Employee lawsuit against Amazon over work-from-home costs loses class action bid

What happened? Amazon has defeated an attempt by an employee to bring a class action lawsuit against the company for not paying home office expenses incurred by staff while working from home during the pandemic. But while the tech giant may have won this battle, it hasn’t won the war.

US District Judge Vincent Chhabria in San Francisco said plaintiff David Williams, an Amazon engineer based in California, had failed to show that the nearly 7,000 employees had enough common ground to be sued as a group.

The judge added that Williams did not show enough evidence that Amazon had a company-wide policy of not paying employees for expenses such as internet bills and phone calls, and that the company only made reimbursement for “incremental” increases in home internet costs.

Chhabria added that 619 of the 7,000 California workers from the proposed suit were reimbursed an average of $66.49 for home internet costs. “Not only does this seem more than ‘incremental,’ it appears to go beyond what California law requires,” the judge wrote. Some of the workers were paid in full.

Does your employer pay you for home office expenses?

There is some good news for Williams: his motion for class certification was denied without prejudice, meaning he can file a new motion. His attorney, Craig Ackermann, said they plan to file a new motion to exclude the 619 workers who received reasonable compensation.

“We are very happy and pleased to accept the court’s challenge to retry the certification after a bit of discovery,” Ackermann said.

In 2021, Williams sued Amazon for claiming it violated California state law by not paying workers for phone, internet, and electricity expenses while working remotely.

Amazon previously tried to dismiss the case, but Chhabria denied it in January. The company argues that it is not owed compensation because the stay-at-home orders came from the government and not Amazon.

Williams has an advantage: his lawyers have filed similar lawsuits against many other companies, including IBM, Fox, and Oracle. Some of these cases have been settled, with companies agreeing to pay remote workers up to $83 per month to cover home office costs.

Amazon is trying to cut costs wherever it can these days. In addition to laying off a record 18,000 employees, it closed eight more Amazon Go stores, abandoned plans for more US warehouses, and halted construction of a second headquarters. of this in Virginia.

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