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Amazon Flex Drivers File Actions Against Amazon

More than 15,750 individual claims filed simultaneously against Amazon, alleging drivers were misclassified as independent contractors. 

More than 15,750 Amazon Flex drivers in California, Illinois and Massachusetts have deluged Amazon, the e-commerce and delivery market leader, with individual wage and hour arbitration actions, alleging that Amazon misclassified them as independent contractors instead of employees. Approximately 450 such claims are already on file with the American Arbitration Association, bringing the total driver claims to well over 16,000. The drivers are seeking compensation for unpaid wages, overtime, and reimbursement for eligible expenses, such as mileage and cell phone usage. 

Amazon asserts that Flex drivers are independent contractors, not employees. They have the flexibility to choose their own schedules, work locations, and the frequency of their deliveries. Drivers enter into contracts with Amazon to deliver packages using the Flex app. Amazon argues that this arrangement is consistent with independent contractor status.

As independent contractors, Flex drivers are not entitled to benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, or workers’ compensation, which employees typically receive.

Drivers argue that they should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. They argue that they are effectively controlled by Amazon, as the company sets the terms and conditions of their work, including pay rates and delivery routes.

This dispute is part of a larger conversation about the gig economy and the rights and protections afforded to workers in non-traditional employment arrangements.

Amazon Flex was launched in 2015 and is a cornerstone of Amazon’s national delivery operation, which, according to the Wall Street Journal is now the largest U.S. package delivery company, outpacing rivals FedEx and UPS.  Since the inception of Amazon Flex, more than 2.9 million drivers in the U.S. have downloaded the Amazon Flex app. onto their phone. A hallmark of Amazon delivery service is to offer Amazon Prime and other customers premium “last-mile” deliveries from Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired in 2017, and Amazon warehouse hubs to customers’ doorsteps. However, unlike its main delivery rivals, Amazon classifies the Flex drivers as independent contractors, not employees, requiring the drivers to bear all expenses of their work and engage in work that is uncompensated. 

The drivers claim that the laws prevailing in California, Illinois, and Massachusetts require that the Amazon Flex drivers should be classified and compensated as employees. 

“As Amazon exerts considerable control over the Flex Drivers in their deliveries and the deliveries are part of Amazon’s usual business, the drivers qualify as Amazon employees, not independent contractors, and should be paid accordingly,” said Joseph Sellers, partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and attorney for the drivers. “That Amazon fails to pay these Flex Drivers wages and reimburse expenses that the law requires is inexcusable, exploiting some of the most vulnerable workers in our society.   By doing so, Amazon gains a competitive advantage in pricing these delivery services that has contributed to its success as the leading package delivery company in the country.” 

Thus far, Amazon Flex drivers have successfully tried seven bellwether arbitration trials, addressing the same misclassification claims. Each driver has been awarded, on average, $9,000 in damages. [24×7]