Amazon Flex Drivers Allege They Were Wrongfully Denied Wages

 More than 15,750 people who delivered packages for Inc.’s Flex service filed arbitration claims on Tuesday, arguing the company wrongly denied them wages and other compensation, lawyers for the drivers said.

The cases, filed in California, Illinois, and Massachusetts by attorneys with Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Gibbs Law Group, claim the drivers should have been classified as employees, making them eligible for unpaid wages, overtime, and reimbursement for expenses like personal car mileage and cell phone use. The firms had previously filed 450 such claims with the American Arbitration Association, they said in a statement.

Flex, Amazon’s gig economy package delivery service, launched in 2015. Drivers, who Amazon does not consider employees, use a smartphone app to sign up for shifts delivering packages in their own vehicles.

“The Amazon Flex program gives individuals the opportunity to set their own schedule and be their own boss while earning competitive pay,” Amazon spokesperson Branden Baribeau said in a statement. “We hear from most of the Amazon Flex delivery partners that they love the flexibility of the program, and we’re proud of the work they do on behalf of customers every day.”

Amazon mandates that Flex drivers pursue any claims through arbitration, essentially private courts originally set up as a cheaper venue to settle business disputes. Critics say the forum helps companies avoid potentially costly class-action lawsuits.

In 2021, Amazon stopped requiring customers to make claims against it in arbitration, after tens of thousands of people inundated the company with complaints that the Alexa digital assistant improperly recorded them.

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