As we’ve discussed previously, Amazon has come under scrutiny and been the subject of lawsuits for the conditions in which its warehouse employees have been required to work. This includes the alleged inability in some cases to take restroom breaks due to unreasonable production quotas.
Lawmakers in California decided to do something about that. Last year they passed, and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law, a bill (AB 701) designed to ease the burden on employees in large warehouses and warehouse distribution centers. The law, which is the first of its kind in the U.S., took effect on Jan. 1 of this year.
How does the new law benefit warehouse employees?
The new law targets the production quotas set for employees. These quotas have often been determined by using an algorithm that doesn’t factor in time for restroom and other breaks as required by state health and safety laws.
The new law regulates the production quotas employers are allowed to set for workers employed in large warehouses and warehouse distribution centers. For example, employers are prohibited from setting quotas that don’t take into consideration time for restroom trips or other breaks or that don’t comply with state health and safety laws.
Under the new law, employers must disclose their production quotas and the metrics used to establish them both to employees and the state government. They are also prohibited from penalizing or retaliating against anyone for taking a break to use the restroom or anything else necessary for their health or safety.
One of the concerns that led to AB 701 was the injury rates in some warehouses and distribution centers. Under the new law, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) must report any employer or worksite with “an annual employee injury rate of at least 1.5 times higher than the warehousing industry’s average annual injury rate” to the California labor commissioner.
How can employees seek justice and compensation?
The law also helps employees who have lost their jobs due to failure to meet unreasonable quotas can take legal action to try to get their jobs back in addition to seeking compensation for damages.
It’s crucial for all California employees to understand their rights under their law and the actions they can take if those rights are violated. Getting sound legal advice can help.