A former Amazon warehouse employee is suing the online retail giant alleging that scheduling issues routinely led to workers missing large chunks of their lunch breaks – or missing them entirely – and then working unpaid overtime to complete their tasks for the day. The case is the latest in a long line of wage and labor related lawsuits dogging the company even as workers in Alabama voted down an attempt at unionization of the Bessemer warehouse.
The lunch break lawsuit was originally filed in California state court but was moved to federal court in the US Northern District of California and is seeking class-action status. It alleges a wide variety of violations that led to employees working time they were not being compensated for while also being told to tend to their jobs during uncompensated time. In response to employee complaints about not getting time off for breaks and meals, the lawsuit alleges the employees were merely told to take a break “when they could get it.”
Long lines at timecard stations led to employees missing significant portions of their lunch breaks while waiting to punch out, at times upward of half their allotted break time. For those lucky enough to actually find some time to sit down and eat their lunch, those breaks were often interrupted by ongoing work obligations since the employees were told to keep their walkie-talkies on them at all times, including meals.
In addition to missed and interrupted lunches, the lawsuit alleges that constant understaffing at the California facility led to frequent inability to take 10-minute breaks allotted for every four hours worked. According to the complaint, this discrepancy along with the loss of lunch breaks created a situation where employees were actually working overtime but never compensated for it.
At the time of this writing, Amazon has not responded to any of the outlets that are reporting on the California lawsuit. In its defense, that may be because the company’s PR department is too busy spending its time trolling members of the US Congress on Twitter over taxes and, unironically, labor issues.