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Amazon (& Integrity Staffing) warehouse worker lawsuit can proceed

Amazon (& Integrity Staffing) warehouse worker lawsuit can proceed

Long security lines at warehouses could end up costing the company more than $100 million, attorney says

Online retailer Amazon.comgoes to great lengths to prevent employee theft, requiring thousands of its warehouse workers to pass through metal detectors at the end of their shifts.

The threat of theft at its warehouses is significant because employees have access to vast inventories of valuable merchandise. At the online retailer's Breinigsvillewarehouse alone, police have arrested several workers who allegedly pilfered thousands of dollars in video games, watches, electronics, clothing and other merchandise.

The Seattle company's efforts to minimize such losses could end up having a huge cost, as well. Attorneys representing warehouse workers who were required to clock out before passing through security estimates some 100,000 people are owed more than $100 million in back wages and penalties for time spent on security lines.

At issue is whether warehouse employees should be compensated for the time they spend on lines going through security check points. For years, the company has required workers at its warehouses to clock out before going through security to make sure they weren't stealing.

That practice prompted a class-action lawsuit in 2010 in Nevada on behalf of warehouse workers hired through the employment firm Integrity Staffing Solutions, which also recruits workers for Amazon's Breinigsville warehouse.

Nevada employees Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro alleged that the security check often took up to 25 minutes for which they were not compensated. Their complaint was filed as a federal class-action lawsuit potentially on behalf of Amazon warehouse workers around the country.

"If Integrity or Amazon had to pay people, they would make it convenient and get them out as quickly as possible," said Joe Buck, an attorney with The Thierman Law Group in Reno, Nev., which is representing workers. "But they don't, so they don't give them any consideration."

The Seattle, Wash. online retailer had 2012 sales of $61 billion.

The Nevada district court in 2011 dismissed the case, saying the workers were not entitled to payment for time on security lines. But the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month reversed that decision, saying that the workers have a "plausible claim for relief."

Attorneys for the Wilmington, Del.-based Integrity Staffing Solutions have been busy trying to get the appeals court to reconsider its decision. Attorneys for the warehouse workers, meanwhile, plan to take the lawsuit nationally, potentially enlisting every worker from every Amazon warehouse in the country, whether they worked directly for Amazon or through a staffing firm.

Integrity Staffing Solutions and Amazon declined to comment for this story.

By Spencer Soper, Of The Morning Call


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