Amazon Finds Themselves in Hot Water Over Labor Laws

Frederic Legrand - COMEO/

Amazon has everything. Food, clothing, home décor, and anything else that you might need for your home or business. They often have the lowest prices and can almost guarantee that you’ll get everything within two business days. The number of small businesses they have put out of business since coming online is unthinkable.

The large corporation has been untouchable. They do what they want because they think that by paying the amount of taxes that they do, lawmakers will look the other way.

That’s not the case.

It turns out that in order to get the two-day delivery service and provide the best prices, Amazon has been cutting more than a few corners. Labor laws? Do they need to abide by those? Absolutely. Despite getting so many of their products from China, the warehouses in the U.S. need to operate under U.S. labor laws.

They’ve been guilty of quite a lot – including shorting employees on their breaks and providing unsafe working conditions.

New York was one of the first to suspect that Amazon wasn’t adhering to all of the necessary laws, particularly as multiple complaints were lodged. Now, federal prosecutors in New York along with the Department of Labor are inspecting warehouses across the country as part of an ongoing civil investigation.

Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York provided a statement to ABC News. “This morning, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration entered Amazon warehouses outside New York City, Chicago, and Orlando to conduct workplace safety inspections.” They will be looking for such things as workplace hazards and the required “pace of work for its warehouse employees.”

It is suspected that Amazon has even gone as far as hidden injuries from OSHA and other government entities, which would mean that Amazon has committed fraud.

A number of referrals have been received by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) that alleges Amazon has committed various safety and health violations. The spokesman has said that since the investigations taking place in New York, Illinois, and Florida are ongoing and active, they cannot provide a lot of information.

Many who work at Amazon – or who are former employees – have complained that the pace they are expected to keep is grueling. Some have even said that they are banned from using the bathroom unless it is on a scheduled break. Others complain that the warehouses (known as fulfillment centers) are uncomfortably hot and there’s a significant potential for injury.

Amazon was quick to respond to the investigation, telling ABC News that “We’ll of course cooperate with OSHA in their investigation, and we believe it will ultimately show that these concerns are unfounded.”

Hmmm…that would be nice for Amazon, but there are a lot of unhappy former employees willing to raise their hands and complain about the shady activities that happened in their fulfillment centers. It may be that once the investigations conclude in New York, Illinois, and Florida, dozens more may be opened up elsewhere in the country. After all, Amazon is everywhere – and they have Prime members to keep happy.

Current and former employees of the Amazon warehouses who have issues about safety and the pace of work they have been expected to keep are being asked to come forward. SDNY is ready to listen to all of the complaints, including those who may have been injured or who knows when an injury failed to be reported.

Amazon may finally be taught a lesson that no matter how big they are, they can still be taken down.