Watch CBS News

Amazon fined nearly $6 million for alleged violations in Inland Empire warehouses

Amazon fined nearly $6 million for alleged violations in Inland Empire warehouses
Amazon fined nearly $6 million for alleged violations in Inland Empire warehouses 03:05

Technology giant Amazon was hit with $5.9 million in fines for reported violations at two Inland Empire warehouses, the California Labor Commissioner's Office announced. 

Lilia Garcia Bower, the state Labor Commissioner, said Amazon warehouses in Moreno Valley and Redlands operated in violation of the Warehouse Quotas Law, established in 2021 under Assembly Bill 701, which is a state law intended to prevent overworking employees.

Amazon said Tuesday the fines were unjustified and will be challenged.

"The peer-to-peer system that Amazon was using in these two warehouses is exactly the kind of system that the ... law was put in place to prevent," Bower said. "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."

Inspectors alleged Amazon failed to notify employees of "any quotas they must follow, including the number of tasks they need to perform per hour, and any discipline that could come from not meeting the quota," according to the commissioner's office.

Inspections on Sept. 22, 2022, Oct. 20, 2023 and March 9, 2024, led to the identification of 59,017 violations, according to the commissioner's office.

Amazon issued a statement in response, saying the company disagrees "with the allegations made in the citations and have appealed."

"The truth is, we don't have fixed quotas," spokeswoman Maureen Lynch Vogel said. "At Amazon, individual performance is evaluated over a long period of time, in relation to how the entire site's team is performing. Employees can -- and are encouraged to -- review their performance whenever they wish. They can always talk to a manager if they're having trouble finding the information."

The commissioner's office said Amazon's "peer-to-peer evaluation system" amounted to quotas because work had to be "performed at a specified speed, or the worker suffers discipline."

"A quota may be illegal if it is not disclosed to workers or precludes employees from exercising ... statutory rights," the commissioner's office stated.

Officials noted that the Ontario-based nonprofit Warehouse Worker Resource Center provided unspecified assistance to state regulators around the time of the inspections.

The WWRC is aligned with unions, including the Service Employees International Union, according to published reports.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.