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Lawsuit claims Amazon cheating workers out of 30-minute lunch breaks

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A lawsuit that accuses Amazon of cheating warehouse workers out of their lunch breaks is moving forward in California, even as the e-commerce giant faces a big vote on whether to unionize a warehouse in Alabama.

A former Amazon logistics specialist in Vacaville, California, has sued the company for failing to ensure that she and others got a 30-minute lunch break. Instead, Amazon required workers to keep walkie-talkies on them at all times, according to the complaint.

Meal breaks routinely got shortened “due to the time spent listening and responding to work-related obligations on their walkie talkies,” according to the suit.

Originally filed in February in California state court in San Francisco, the lawsuit was moved last week to federal court in the US Northern District of California.

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The complaint is seeking class-action status and comes amidst a flurry of labor disputes involving Amazon, which is facing unionization at a warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. and labor strikes abroad and a barrage of criticism from elected officials

A worker packages goods.
This practice of working through breaks and not taking a full 30 minute meal break caused employees to technically work overtime, but they were not paid overtime wages, the complaint says.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The plaintiff, Lovenia Scott, claims that warehouse workers were cheated out of their full 30 minutes because Amazon did not properly schedule the breaks, leading to long lines at the punchout clock that could take up to 15 minutes of waiting. 

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The facility was “chronically” understaffed which resulted in workers not being able to take 10-minute rest breaks for each four hours they worked, according to the complaint. 

Amazon instructed workers to take a break “when they could get it” but because the volume of work was so great, many did not, the complaint alleges. 

This practice of working through breaks and not taking a full 30-minute meal break caused employees to technically work overtime, but they were not paid overtime wages, the complaint says.

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Scott worked at the warehouse from October 2016 to January 2019 overseeing trucks that were loaded and offloaded as they arrived and departed from the warehouse.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a query from The Post.

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