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California fines Amazon $5.9 million for alleged labor law violations

California has fined Amazon $5.9 million for 59,017 alleged violations of a state warehouse quotas labor law. Amazon denied it uses "fixed quotas." But California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said in a statement Amazon's peer-to-peer quota system increases pressure to work faster leading to higher injury rates and illegally forcing workers to skip breaks. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
California has fined Amazon $5.9 million for 59,017 alleged violations of a state warehouse quotas labor law. Amazon denied it uses "fixed quotas." But California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said in a statement Amazon's peer-to-peer quota system increases pressure to work faster leading to higher injury rates and illegally forcing workers to skip breaks. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

June 19 (UPI) -- California's Labor Commissioner fined Amazon $5.9 million for unsafe warehouse operations that violated the state Warehouse Quotas law.

The commissioner's office said Tuesday that state inspections and an investigation found 59,017 violations at two Amazon warehouses in Moreno Valley and Redlands, Calif., in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

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The violations occurred between Oct. 30, 2023, and March 9, 2024, according to the Department of Industrial Relations. The law provides $100 penalties for each violation.

The quotas law requires warehouse employers to provide workers with written notice of any labor quotas that exist in warehouses like the number of tasks per hour along with any disciplinary action for not meeting quotas.

The law protects worker safety by not allowing quotas to stop meals, rest breaks, bathroom breaks and compliance with safety standards.

California's Department of Industrial Relations said that Amazon didn't provide the quotas notice required by state law, instead using what the company called "a peer-to-peer evaluation system."

California's enforcement action alleges that using peer pressure among workers to enforce unwritten company quotas violates the state quotas law.

"The peer-to-peer system that Amazon was using in these two warehouses is exactly the kind of system that the Warehouse Quotas law was put in place to prevent," California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said in a statement. "Undisclosed quotas expose workers to increased pressure to work faster and can lead to higher injury rates and other violations by forcing workers to skip breaks."

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Amazon denied it uses warehouse worker quotas.

"The truth is, we don't have fixed quotas," Amazon spokesperson Maureen Lynch Vogel wrote in an email to CNBC. "At Amazon, individual performance is evaluated over a long period of time, in relation to how the entire site's team is performing."

In January 2023 the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration found Amazon violated federal worker safety law at warehouses in Deltona, Fla., Waukegan, Ill., and New Windsor, N.Y.

OSHA proposed total penalties of $60,269 for those alleged violations after inspecting the facilities.

"Each of these inspections found work processes that were designed for speed but not safety, and they resulted in serious worker injuries," said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker in a statement.

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