Former Amazon Warehouse Worker files Class Action Lawsuit over Uncompensated Health Screening Time

DENVER, October 5, 2021 – On Friday, October 1, 2021, former Amazon Colorado warehouse worker Jennfier Vincenzetti filed a class action complaint in federal court in Denver. The complaint alleges that Amazon failed to pay its thousands of warehouse workers in Colorado for time Amazon required them to be onsite, on duty, but off the clock. At the height of the pandemic, the complaint alleges that Amazon implemented mandatory COVID-19 health screenings that had to be completed before its warehouse workers could enter the warehouses, clock-in, and proceed to work. The complaint alleges that this was part of Amazon’s effort to appear like it was protecting workers while also refusing to bear the costs of protecting workers. According to the complaint, the screenings resulted in warehouse workers, including Ms. Vincenzetti, typically waiting in line, off the clock and uncompensated, for 20 to 60 minutes per day.

Complaint

Press Release

Press:

The Washington Post: Amazon stiffed Colorado workers for time spent screening for coronavirus, suit charges

Colorado Public Radio: Former Colorado Springs warehouse worker sues Amazon over lack of pay for required COVID-19 screenings

Reuters: Amazon sued by warehouse workers over COVID-19 screening pay

KDVR Local: Lawsuit: Amazon warehouse workers in Colorado forced to work unpaid time

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Pre-rulemaking Comments on Overtime Rights for Agricultural Workers (SB 87)

Towards Justice, a Colorado-based nonprofit legal organization that advocates for and collaborates with workers and workers’ organizations to build worker power and advance economic justice, submits these comments in anticipation of the proposed rules providing meaningful overtime and maximum hours protections for agricultural employees pursuant to SB87. Specifically, we encourage the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) to incorporate agricultural workers into the basic overtime protections enjoyed by other Colorado workers. That is, effective January 31, 2022, agricultural employees should be paid time and one-half of the regular rate of pay for any work in excess of: (1) forty hours per workweek, (2) twelve hours per workday, or (3) twelve consecutive hours without regard to the starting and ending time of the workday (excluding duty free meal periods), whichever calculation results in the greater payment of wages.

Read Towards Justice’s comments submitted to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment on September 28, 2021

Press:

Colorado Public Radio: Colorado’s first overtime rules for farmworkers are coming. But workers question who the changes help most

Fox31: Latino community calls on Polis for equal overtime rights for farmworkers

9News: Latino community leaders call for equal overtime rights for Colorado farmworkers

CBS4 Denver: Farm Workers’ Advocates Claim Proposed Rules By Colorado Department Of Labor Regarding Overtime Is Unfair

Telemundo Denver: Trabajadores del campo piden pago de horas extras en Colorado

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PHEW Whistleblower Complaint against Amazon

Former Amazon warehouse worker Linda Rodriguez filed a complaint against Amazon with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) alleging that the company fired her in 2020 because she repeatedly raised concerns about Amazon policies and practices that were putting warehouse workers at Amazon’s DEN3 facility in Thornton, Colorado at risk from the spread of COVID-19. In particular, Ms. Rodriguez alleges she was fired for complaining about Amazon’s sloppy contract tracing and the company’s failure to provide important workplace health and safety information to Spanish-speaking workers in Spanish.

“It seemed like Amazon just wanted to pressure people to keep coming to work during the pandemic, even though we were terrified, and so they didn’t tell us whether we’d been exposed and didn’t even explain to my Spanish-speaking co-workers in a language they could understand that they shouldn’t come to work if they were sick,” said Complainant Linda Rodriguez.

The complaint alleges that Amazon violated Colorado’s Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Act (“PHEW Act”), which was enacted during the summer of 2020 to recognize workers’ rights to speak out publicly about workplace safety and health concerns related to a public health emergency like COVID-19. The law requires workers to file a formal administrative complaint with the CDLE as a prerequisite to filing a suit in court. A copy of the complaint is available below. Ms. Rodriguez is represented in the case by Towards Justice, a Denver-based non-profit legal organization, and Swain Law LLC.

Case Documents:

Complaint

Press Release

Press:

Colorado Public Radio: Amazon Didn’t Provide COVID-19 Information In Spanish, Ex-Thornton Employee Alleges

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MiLB Amicus Brief

National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Shawne Alston, et al., Amicus Brief

Case Documents:

Amicus Brief

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Medical Debt Collection in Colorado

ZACHARY WAITE, CATHERINE WOODS-SULLIVAN v. CREDIT SERVICE COMPANY, INC.

Press Release:

UCHealth Patients Sue Debt Collector in Denver District Court

Case Documents:

Complaint

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PHEW Whistleblower Complaint against Denver Health

Heroic healthcare workers on the front line of a pandemic working in near-capacity ICUs have taken a stand and filed Colorado’s first whistleblower or qui tam complaint against Denver Health, alleging that the medical center has a policy of preventing workers from raising concerns about COVID-19 safety and systemic racism.

Under Colorado’s new Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Law it is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who speak out about public health emergencies. Workers at Denver Health allege that their employer systematically squelches workplace speech when they raise concerns about workplace safety and health issues related to COVID-19 and systemic racism—both of which have been declared public health crises by Colorado and the City of Denver. 

Towards Justice supports Denver Health Workers United—a union of workers employed by Denver Health—in filing the first “qui tam” complaint under the Colorado Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Law

Case Documents:

Complaint

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Navajo Truck Drivers Seek Order Determining Coercive Contract Provisions Are Illegal And UnenforceableE: Boswinkle v. Navajo Express, Inc.

Complaint alleges that the “loser pays provision” and “class waiver” in truck drivers’ contract with Navajo Express are illegal and unenforceable.

Two truck drivers are asking a Colorado court to declare that two provisions of their contract are unenforceable. The workers allege that the “class waiver” and “loser pays provision” they challenge are designed to, and in fact do, prevent workers from holding Navajo Express accountable for legal violations, including misclassifying their workers as independent contractors. Far too often employers pack contracts with illegal terms designed to chill their workers from coming forward to report violations and recover unpaid wages. Towards Justice is proud to represent these workers, along with partners at The Kelman Buescher Firm, P.C.

Case Documents:

Complaint

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Workers Seek Order Forcing OSHA to Intervene to Protect Them from COVID-19: Jane Does I, II, III, et al v. Eugene Scalia, in his official capacity as United States Secretary of Labor

Workers at the Maid-Rite Specialty Foods facility and Friends of Farmworkers, Inc. d/b/a Justice at Work, in its capacity as the workers’ authorized employee representative, allege that Maid-Rite’s practices endanger their safety on a daily basis. These practices include configuring the production line in such a way that workers cannot social distance, failing to provide cloth face coverings, failing to provide adequate hand-washing opportunities, creating incentives for workers to attend work sick, and rotating workers from other facilities in a way that increases the risk of spreading the virus.

(more…)

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Complaint Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Food Chain Workers Alliance, et al v. Tyson Foods, Inc., et al

Towards Justice along with legal partners Public Justice and Nichols Kaster filed a Title VI complaint against meat processing corporations for their alleged racially discriminatory practices. This complaint asks the Office of Civil Rights to investigate disparate impact & treatment of Black, Latino and Asian meat processing workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (more…)

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Protecting Supply Chain Workers during COVID-19: Derrick Palmer, et al. v. Amazon.com, Inc., et al

Our clients allege that Amazon’s operations at its JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, NY are inconsistent with state law and public health guidance. We allege that Amazon’s conduct has contributed to the spread of COVID-19 among workers at the plant and in their communities. Dozens of workers have already gotten sick and at least one has died. The plaintiffs seek an injunction to force Amazon to comply with public health guidance. (more…)

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In The Courtroom

Our litigators help workers advance legal claims that address systemic injustice. We use antitrust, anti-slavery, fraud, wage-and-hour, and common-law challenges to address the wide variety of practices that nickel-and-dime low-wage workers out of their hard-earned wages. We have represented a hundred thousand childcare workers alleging wage suppression, tens of thousands of immigrant detainees alleging forced labor, and hundreds of construction workers, shepherds, manicurists, janitors, and kitchen hood cleaners. We are leaders in challenging anti-competitive practices that reduce worker bargaining power and support marginalized people who challenge structural impediments to their advancement.

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