A group of former Amazon delivery drivers have filed a proposed class action lawsuit in state court claiming the company’s policies have broken state labor law around rest breaks and disproportionately impact certain employees.
The lawsuit, filed May 22 in Denver District Court, was brought by three former drivers, Leah Cross, Marco Granger-Rivera and Ryan Schilling. They are asking the court to certify two classes, a rest break class that would include all employees who delivered packages for Amazon in Colorado dating back six years from filing (May 2017) and until the case resolves and a disparate impact class that would include all Colorado employees who delivered packages from amazon and have typical female anatomy.
The plaintiffs also on May 22 filed a charge of discrimination against the company with the Colorado Civil Rights Division alleging sex-based discrimination in violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.
The drivers are represented by Colorado nonprofit legal advocacy firm Towards Justice and Seattle-based civil litigation firm Terrell Marshall Law Group. The case has been assigned to Denver District Court Judge Kandace Gerdes.
According to the lawsuit, the national retailer contracts with more than 3,000 delivery service partners that employ more than 275,000 nationwide workers for the last leg of package delivery. The lawsuit claims that while the company doesn’t directly employ last leg drivers, the contracts require each contractor to meet delivery quotas set by the company along delivery routes created by Amazon and vehicles are equipped with cameras and GPS trackers to ensure delivery routes stay on track. The plaintiffs allege taking breaks could’ve opened them up to disciplinary action for not meeting quotas.
The lawsuit claims delivery drivers avoid drinking water on shift to avoid taking bathroom breaks and “when they inevitably do need to use the bathroom, drivers urinate in plastic bottles and even defecate in dog waste bags in the back of their delivery vans to ensure that they do not face discipline for failing to stay on pace with their deliveries.”
In a press release announcing the lawsuit, Schilling said he was unable to stop at gas stations or other rest stops to use the bathroom. “Twice I’ve had to defecate so badly that I’ve had to use dog waste bags in the back of delivery vans. I knew that if I tried to stop to go to a gas station, I’d get yelled at and maybe lose my job,” said Schilling.
The pressures of staying on track for delivery routes, the lawsuit claims, means drivers work through 10-minute paid rest breaks required under state law and aren’t paid for missed breaks. The lawsuit specifically brings claims under the Colorado Wage Claim Act and the Colorado Minimum Wage Act.
The other proposed class from the lawsuit would apply to workers with typical female anatomy such as internal urethras. For those workers, the lawsuit alleges, pressures to stay on track for delivery routes mean they can’t use water bottles or other containers to relieve themselves in the back of vehicles.
In the press release, Cross said she was disproportionately impacted by the policies. “As a woman, I can’t just easily pee in a bottle,” Cross said. “When I worked for Amazon, I had to bring a change of clothes in case I peed my pants while trying to hit Amazon’s delivery metrics.”
The lawsuit is asking a court to order Amazon to award the former drivers and other potential class members lost wages, compensatory damages and attorney fees and costs.
This isn’t the first time former Amazon workers have sued the company claiming it broke labor laws. In October 2021, a former worker filed a proposed class action over the company’s clock-in policies that is currently pending in district court for the U.S. District of Colorado.
A similar lawsuit, also represented by Terrell Marshall Law Group brought by delivery drivers, was filed in Washington state court last September. Drivers employed by contracted delivery service providers in California and Pennsylvania have also filed similar complaints.