Add another story to the growing list of gig economy workers trying to make the companies that control much of their working lives own up to that responsibility.
In a complaint filed in King County Superior Court, two package delivery drivers say their company Jungle Trux failed to pay them overtime, undercounted their hours, and failed to provide them with required breaks. And they say tech giant Amazon is liable, too.
The drivers work directly for Jungle Trux but they deliver Amazon packages, wear Amazon uniforms, and use Amazon devices, according to the complaint. The drivers say Amazon also has some control of their schedules and work hours. Drivers must arrive at an Amazon distribution center to pick up Amazon packages, then load those packages into orange Amazon totes, and scan the packages with Amazon's "Rabbit" device. The companies require drivers to deliver the packages by a certain time and then return to the distribution center. There, they "unload orange totes and go through a debriefing with Amazon officials regarding packages not delivered," according to the complaint.
"The economic reality is that Plaintiffs and members of the Class and Subclass are dependent on Amazon—the entity to which they render package pick‐up and delivery services—for virtually every aspect of their jobs," the complaint reads.
The workers say Jungle Trux, and by extension Amazon, failed to give workers meal and rest breaks or pay them for that time in lieu of breaks. The complaint says drivers deliver 150 to 200 packages a day, often leaving no time for the required 10-minute rest breaks and 30-minute meal break. Drivers "often eat only while on‐the‐go to ensure they can complete all their necessary work," the complaint says.
The complaint also says Jungle Trux pays drivers $13 per hour with a $4 per hour bonus if drivers meet "certain objective standards." Because Jungle Trux calculated overtime based on $13 instead of $17, the complaint alleges the company underpaid overtime. "Until recently," the company required drivers to do pre-trip inspections of their delivery vans and drive those vans to a distribution warehouse before clocking in for their shift, according to the complaint. A similar process took place at the end of a shift with drivers clocking out before returning their vans and doing post-trip inspections. The complaint says the company owes drivers pay for that work.
The drivers seek class action status and backpay, interest, and attorneys fees. Amazon has not returned a request for comment. (I'll update this post if I hear back.) Jungle Trux could not immediately be reached.
The complaint is part of a trend of drivers trying to get Amazon to take responsibility for their working conditions. Contract drivers in Chicago named Amazon in a lawsuit. Amazon Prime Now drivers in California sued over their status as independent contractors. And Amazon Flex drivers have filed a similar suit, saying they should be considered employees. Uber drivers have made a similar push.
"There’s been a significant increase recently in the number of companies using intermediaries to keep labor costs down," attorney Marc Cote said in a statement about the new suit naming Amazon. "When workers are economically dependent on the principal companies that use intermediaries, those principal companies are responsible as employers for complying with wage and hour laws."