- California fined Amazon and a delivery contractor $6.4 million for wage theft violations on Monday.
- In a press release, the state’s labor commissioner said more than 700 drivers were owed money.
- The drivers were employed by the contractor, but California law makes both companies liable.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
California’s labor commissioner fined Amazon and Green Messengers, a contractor used by Amazon to deliver packages, $6.4 million for stealing wages from 718 delivery drivers, the regulator announced in a press release Monday.
Its investigation found that the drivers, who were employed by Green Messengers to work 10-hour shifts, often had to work more than 11 hours and skip their meal and rest breaks in order to complete their Amazon delivery routes due to the high volume of packages.
But the investigation also found that, between April 2018 and January 2020, Green Messengers failed to pay them correctly for that extra work, which “resulted in frequent minimum wage, overtime, meal break, rest period and split-shift violations,” the release said.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on this story. As of Monday evening, Green Messengers’ website had been taken offline and a phone number listed for the business had been disconnected. According to the release, both companies have appealed the fines.
While Amazon owns a massive fleet of delivery vehicles, it relies on a complex network of regional contractors like Green Messengers to employ many of the drivers who operate those vehicles.
The arrangement typically allows Amazon to avoid certain labor costs and legal liabilities that come with hiring employees directly, but a California law that went into effect in 2015 prevents companies like Amazon from shifting blame to contractors by allowing them to still be held liable for labor violations.
“Contracting out services does not release employers from their duty to ensure workers are being legally compensated,” California labor commissioner Lilia García-Brower said in the release. “In this case, both Green Messengers and Amazon.com Services are responsible for the wage theft that these workers suffered.”
The fines included more than $5.3 million in damages, wages, interest, and other penalties owed to the drivers, plus roughly $1.1 million in civil penalties owed to the state, according to the release.
Amazon has come under fire before for the working conditions it imposes on delivery drivers, both directly and indirectly through its delivery service partners, which investigations from multiple outlets including Insider and BuzzFeed News have found contributed to increased injury rates.