Next up in “news, no one is surprised to hear,” Amazon has been withholding delivery drivers’ tips for some time. Amazon – already infamous for treating employees like cattle – is liable for $60M in damages after United States Federal Trade Commission ruled in favor of the delivery drivers on Tuesday.
Amazon withholds tips from Amazon Flex delivery drivers
The Drive cites the FTC as the regulatory body responsible for suing Amazon for the damages from withheld delivery driver tips. The announcement states that allegations were made against Amazon Logistics, alleging that the company failed to fully pay tips that drivers in its Amazon Flex program had earned.
The allegations specifically cite the company keeping delivery driver tips for over two and a half years. The company is said to have stopped withholding delivery tips in 2019 when the investigation started.
Is Amazon guilty of the allegations?
The case never came to court becuase Amazon settled and agreed to pay $60M in withheld tips to qualifying drivers. In total, Amazon will pay 141,128 employees. According to the FTC announcement, the FTC will send checks to 139,507 employees and 1,621 Paypal payments. Drivers who had more than $5 withheld by Amazon will receive the full amount of their withheld tips. The highest amount going to a single Amazon Flex driver is more than $28,000, but the average payout is $422.
What is Amazon Flex?
Many of you (including myself) may wonder how Amazon delivery drivers get tips in the first place. Amazon Flex is a service similar to Post Mates or some other such catch-all delivery service. In this verison of Amazon delivery, drivers are allowed tips, and it is for these drivers that Amazon is being punished.
Similar to DoorDash or Uber Eats, Amazon Flex drivers use their own vehicles for delivery. This service, like many other similar services, is not offered everywhere. According to The Drive, Amazon Flex is currently offered in 80 cities across the United States.
However, these drivers can be tapped to execute Amazon Prime Now deliveries that the big trucks are too bogged down to complete in some areas. After the onslaught of COVID-19, services like grocery delivery have blown up. These drivers who got stiffed by Amazon can also deliver groceries and other essentials the same day as opposed to within days like normal Prime deliveries. Knowing the extent of these delivery drivers’ work makes perfect sense that they would be tipped, making Amonzon’s alleged cash grab all the more heinous. However, unlike most other delivery drivers, Amazon Flex drivers are said to make between $18-$24/hour.
Amazon has a history of mistreating its workers
This alleged greed from Amazon at its employees’ expense is far from shocking. Grim stories of cruel working conditions for Amazon employees are commonplace. The mega-corp and its founder Jeff Bezos, are infamous for stories like this. Earlier this year, investigations found that 74 percent of warehouse employees would avoid using the bathroom for fear of missing their quotas. Other stories include delivery drivers using the bathroom in their cars and trucks for fear of getting behind schedule.
This settlement is a major win for the workers. This isn’t likely to fix the corporation’s greed, but at least it can provide some hope for future cases.