A pair of former delivery drivers has filed a class action lawsuit against the trucking company that employed them and against Internet behemoth Amazon, the merchant whose cargo they were delivering and who they allege acted as their "joint employer," saying the companies wrongly didn't pay overtime, making them earn less than what state and federal law requires.
In the lawsuit filed Nov. 1 in Cook County Circuit Court, drivers Theron Bradley and Tommy Jenkins sued on behalf of themselves and other drivers against sister companies Silverstar Ltd. and Gold Standard Transportation Inc., as well as against Amazon.com LLC as a joint employer. The drivers are claiming they were not paid overtime they were due under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.
Silverstar and Gold Standard operate a carrier and logistics business that, among other things, provides trucks and drivers to make deliveries to customers of Amazon in Illinois. According to court documents, the two logistics companies are intertwined, sharing human resources, common management and office space in Crestwood.
Though Bradley and Jenkins appear to have been employed by Silverstar/Gold Standard, the lawsuit makes the case that Amazon is a joint employer, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to court documents, Silverstar and Gold Standard drivers who handle Amazon deliveries are trained by Amazon staff and report each morning to an Amazon warehouse in Chicago, where Amazon employees give them their days’ deliveries and instructions. The drivers drive trucks and wear uniforms branded with Amazon’s logo and their performance is tracked and supervised by Amazon personnel in conjunction with Silverstar and Gold Standard personnel. The lawsuit states Amazon’s influence on drivers’ employment even extends to the company having a hand in employee evaluations and discipline.
Neither of the plaintiffs worked for the companies for long – the lawsuit states that they were employed for a little more than a month each last summer. During that time, however, the lawsuit claims they regularly worked more than 40 hours per week, but were never paid overtime for the additional hours.
In their attempt to certify the suit as a class action, the plaintiffs assert more than 70 people experienced similar treatment from the same three companies and that they may hesitate to bring their own actions for “fear of retaliation.”
Under the FLSA, the lawsuit seeks judgment in the amount of all unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages in the same amount. Under the IMWL, plaintiffs seek back wages and statutory damages. The plaintiffs also seek court costs and any other damages the court deems appropriate.
The plaintiffs are represented by Alvar Ayala and Christopher J. Williams of Workers’ Law Office P.C. in Chicago.
An Amazon spokesperson responded Nov. 3 to the allegations within the lawsuit, saying in a prepared statement:
“The small and medium sized businesses that partner with Amazon Logistics have their own employees and are required to abide by applicable laws and Amazon’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which focuses on compensation, benefits, and appropriate working hours.
"We investigate any claim that a provider isn't complying with these obligations.”