Amazon sued by drivers challenging contractor status

That didn't take long. Less than a month after calling for delivery drivers, Amazon's drivers have followed in the same footsteps as Uber and Lyft drivers, suing the company for benefits. The lawsuit is part of a much larger issue, one that is being dealt with by several companies: whether drivers like those making Amazon's deliveries and picking up Uber riders should be classified as employees or contracted workers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon was hit with a lawsuit filed yesterday in the Los Angeles Superior Court. The suit comes on the behalf of four Amazon couriers who are seeking compensation for things related to the job, such as reimbursement for the cost of gas. The lawsuit is also seeking back wages.

At the heart of the matter lies cost: being classified as contractors puts extra financial burdens on the drivers, who don't enjoy the same benefits that come with traditional employment. On the business side of things, however, companies save a significant amount by classifying workers as contractors rather than employees, giving them a big reason to battle against reclassification efforts.

Being a contractor comes with some benefits, though, namely the ability to set one's own schedule, and it is that basis upon which many companies argue that their workers can't be classified as employees. Uber drivers, for example, drive whenever they'd like and don't work whenever they don't want to. The issue has proven difficult for courts, which have previously cited similar suits as being complex and without any immediately recognizable conclusion.

In this case, the lawsuit points toward alleged Amazon requirements for Flex drivers, including requiring them to work specific times and to wear uniforms — things that typically fall within the realm of being an employee.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal