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California fines Amazon nearly $6M, alleging illegal work quotas at 2 warehouses

California has fined Amazon a total of $5.9 million, alleging the e-commerce giant worked warehouse employees so hard that it put their safety at risk, officials said Tuesday.

The two citations issued in May by the California Labor Commissioner's Office said Amazon.com Services LLC ran afoul of the state's Warehouse Quota Law at facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, east of Los Angeles.

The law, which took effect in 2022, "requires warehouse employers to provide employees written notice of any quotas they must follow, including the number of tasks they need to perform per hour and any discipline that could come" from not meeting the requirements, the labor commissioner's office said in a statement.

Amazon was fined $1.2 million at a warehouse in Redlands and $4.7 million at another in nearby Moreno Valley.

The company said Tuesday that it disagrees with the allegations and has appealed the citations.

"The truth is, we don't have fixed quotas. At Amazon, individual performance is evaluated over a long period of time, in relation to how the entire site's team is performing," company spokesperson Maureen Lynch Vogel said in a statement. "Employees can — and are encouraged to — review their performance whenever they wish. They can always talk to a manager if they're having trouble finding the information."

The citations allege that Amazon failed to provide written notice of quotas.

Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower said Amazon engaged in "exactly the kind of system" that the quotas law was put in place to prevent.

"Undisclosed quotas expose workers to increased pressure to work faster and can lead to higher injury rates and other violations by forcing workers to skip breaks," she said in a statement.

The agency began investigating in 2022 after employees at the two Southern California facilities reported that they were subject to unfair quota practices, said the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, a nonprofit that advocates for improving working conditions.

Similar legislation has been enacted in Minnesota, New York, Oregon and Washington, the resource center said. In May, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, introduced a federal version of the warehouse worker protection act in Congress.

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