DENVER (KDVR) — Amazon warehouse workers in Colorado were forced to spend up to an hour at work each day — unpaid — while they waited in line for pandemic health screenings, a former employee claims in a lawsuit.
Jennifer Vincenzetti, a former employee at two of Amazon’s warehouses in Colorado Springs, filed the lawsuit on Friday in Colorado federal court. The lawsuit claims she and her colleagues were already forced to work several minutes each day without pay, and the practice only got worse when the pandemic hit.
The lawsuit seeks class-action status and estimates damages in excess of $5 million for the tens of thousands of Amazon employees in Colorado.
“During the pandemic, Amazon’s warehouses remained open as essential services and I kept working as an essential worker. There were constant quarantines, and my coworkers and I feared exposure on a daily basis. During this time of unprecedented demand for Amazon’s services, the least Amazon could do is pay us for this time spent in COVID screenings, which were necessary to keep their pandemic-fueled supply lines uninterrupted by sick workers,” Vincenzetti said in a release announcing the lawsuit.
Denver-based nonprofit legal group Towards Justice and the Law Offices of Brian D. Gonzales, PLLC, are the plaintiff attorneys on the case.
Up to an hour of unpaid time each day
In the lawsuit, Vincenzetti claims that she and her coworkers had to work 2-5 unpaid minutes a day while getting their badge and meeting with a shift assistant for daily job duties. Some employees also would be subjected to unpaid security screenings after clocking out, the lawsuit claims.
Those unpaid times “increased dramatically” once the pandemic hit, as workers were required to undergo a health screening before clocking in, according to the lawsuit.
Employees “would have to arrive early, wait in a line outside the facility, enter the facility and continue to wait in line, answer health screening questions and have their temperature checked,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims this practice happened at every Amazon warehouse in Colorado, where employees were required to avoid overtime and were subject to “policies that punished employees for clocking in early or clocking out late.”
Vincenzetti, the plaintiff, worked 10-hour shifts four days a week and was paid hourly to sort packages and route them for delivery. She was hired in 2018 but was fired in 2020 “for returning from a break late,” according to the lawsuit.
Lawsuit: Colorado law violated
The lawsuit cites Colorado law that defines any time an employer requires workers to be on the premises as “time worked.”
It alleges the unpaid time violates Colorado’s wage and minimum wage laws and constitutes civil theft.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
According to the lawsuit, Amazon operates several warehouses in Colorado:
- DDV5 – 2889 Himalaya Dr., Aurora
- DEN2 – 24006 E. 19th Ave., Aurora
- DEN3 – 14601 Grant St., Thornton
- DEN5 – 19799 E. 36th Dr., Aurora
- DCS3 – 4303 Grinnell Blvd., Colorado Springs
Amazon has said it employs more than 16,000 people in Colorado and plans to hire 3,000 more this year across its warehouse and delivery networks.