More than 200 delivery drivers are suing Amazon and one of its third-party courier companies, TL Transportation, over claims of unpaid wages, according to lawyers for the drivers.
A class-action lawsuit against both companies is moving forward in federal court in Pennsylvania after a judge ruled last month that TL Transportation, a Maryland-based courier company that delivers packages for Amazon, failed to properly pay drivers for overtime hours they worked.
The suit claims that TL Transportation paid drivers a flat rate of $160 per day, regardless of the hours they worked. TL Transportation claims this rate included eight hours of regular pay at $14.55, and two hours of overtime pay at $21.82, according to legal filings.
This pay system led to widespread wage shortages, because it placed a limit on how much overtime pay drivers could earn, the lawsuit alleges.
For example, plaintiff and former driver Shanay Bolden clocked 30 hours of overtime during a seven-day work week in 2016, but TL Transportation paid her only 14 hours of overtime, according to the lawsuit.
“Bolden received overtime payment for less than half of the 30 overtime hours that she actually worked,” US District Court Judge Gerald Austin McHugh wrote in a summary judgement in August.
Labor laws require companies to pay overtime rates — which is one-and-a-half times the regular pay rate — to employees who work more than 40 hours per week.
“Under TLT’s system, an employee receives the same pay each day, even if unforeseen challenges require the employee to work more than ten hours in a day to complete a route,” McHugh wrote. “Under this system, TLT has no incentive to limit an employee’s hours. The pay policy allows TLT to schedule routes with little concern for the inconvenience an employee may experience in working an 11 or 12-hour day.”
The suit also claims that workers were under such intense pressure to deliver high package volumes that they were unable to take breaks to eat meals or use a restroom on the road. The allegations are similar to those reported by Business Insider earlier this week.
“During my route, I was unable to eat lunch, take breaks, and I had to urinate on the side of the road or in a bottle,” former delivery driver Tyhee Hickman claimed in the lawsuit.
More than 200 drivers have joined the lawsuit, which names Amazon.com and Amazon Logistics as co-defendants, along with TL Transportation, according to Sarah Schalman-Bergen of Berger & Montague, a Philadelphia-based firm that is representing the drivers along with Willig, Williams & Davidson.
“Amazon is using third-party contractors to push off any responsibilities for being good employers on these small, thinly capitalized companies,” Schalman-Bergen said. “One repercussion of that is that these companies use pay schemes that potentially violate the law.”
TL Transportation did not immediately respond to requests for comment. An Amazon representative said the company could not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit.
The company said it regularly audits courier companies to ensure they abide by applicable laws and takes immediate actions to support small businesses when they are not in compliance.
TL Transportation, like other Amazon-affiliated courier companies, operates out of Amazon facilities and handle wage-setting, payroll, and delivery van maintenance. Amazon, in turn, provides the courier companies with packages, delivery routes, navigation software, and scanning devices.
Amazon also helps train drivers, provides support on the road, and tracks drivers throughout the course of their delivery routes using their handheld package scanners, called “rabbits.”