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December 19, 2014

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Employee files lawsuit against Amazon.com, seeks class-action status

Employee says workers’ time on the clock rounded to quarter hour

A former Amazon.com worker in Las Vegas is seeking class-action status for a lawsuit claiming the company's warehouse workers nationwide have been shorted on overtime pay.

Attorneys for Richard Austin filed suit in federal court in Seattle, where Amazon.com is based, on Nov. 25.

The suit said Austin was a warehouse associate for Amazon.com from September 2008 through August at its "Nevada Distribution Center.''

It wasn't clear which warehouse Austin worked at and his attorneys couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Amazon.com has a warehouse that opened last fall in North Las Vegas, as well as a warehouse in Fernley in Northern Nevada. This spring, Amazon.com announced plans to close another warehouse in Red Rock, Nev., near Fernley.

Austin's suit charges Amazon.com required warehouse workers to clock in and out before their scheduled start and end times and then rounded their times to the nearest quarter hour.

"For example, if an employee clocked in seven minutes or less before their scheduled start time, Amazon.com would treat the employee’s time as though he/she clocked in at their scheduled start time and consequently would not compensate the employee for the preliminary time prior to their scheduled start time,'' the suit charges.

"Conversely, if an employee clocked out seven minutes or less after their scheduled end time, Amazon.com would treat the employee’s time as though he/she clocked out at their scheduled end time and consequently would not compensate the employee for that postliminary time,'' the suit says.

"Defendant failed to pay plaintiff and other members of the class overtime compensation for the hours they have worked in excess of the maximum hours permissible by law ... even though members of the class regularly worked, and did in fact work overtime hours,'' the suit says.

"The employment practices of defendant were and are uniform throughout the United States in all respects material to the claims asserted in this complaint,'' the lawsuit alleges.

A request for comment on the allegations was placed Tuesday with Amazon.com.

The suit was filed by Seattle attorney Matthew Ide as well as attorneys who have sued other employers over wage claims in Nevada: Mark Thierman in Reno, David Markham of Clark & Markham in San Diego and Walter Haines of United Employees Law Group in Long Beach, Calif.

The lawsuit alleges that besides its Nevada warehouses, the allegations cover Amazon.com warehouses in Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

The timeclock rounding allegations are similar to those pending in a 2008 lawsuit against Station Casinos Inc. of Las Vegas covering as many as 20,000 current or former workers.

Action on that suit -- now being litigated in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas -- has been delayed by Station's bankruptcy.

Station has said in court filings the timeclock rounding system slightly over-compensates employees in some case and slightly under-compensates them in others, but overall "averages out so that employees are fully compensated for all the time they actually work."

Besides its Amazon.com warehouses in Nevada, the company last month completed its acquisition of footwear and apparel retailer Zappos.com of Henderson, a deal value at $847 million when it was announced in July.

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