Arbitration with Amazon

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Arbitration with Amazon

I was a delivery driver for Amazon and had a very solid service record over the course of about 8 months. I delivered about $7,000 packages. However, early this month, my contract was suddenly terminated. The only reason given was that I had violated its terms because customers reported not receiving packages. They refused to act upon information that I have about those packages – exact locations of delivery, phone calls with customers, phone calls with Amazon support, etc. This information proves that I did what Amazon and/or it’s customers instructed me to do, yet it has been ignored. If I take them to arbitration, what do I need to win and should I try to get my job back or should I seek damages? If so, how much should I seek considering that this was my full-time job and this has left me out of work?

Asked on November 25, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

First, do you have a contract giving you the right to arbitration in the event of an employment dispute? If you don't, you cannot force them to arbitrate: you could possibly sue, but arbitration is voluntary unless there is a contract requiring it.
Second, whether it gives you the right to arbitration at all, do you have a written employment contract which either I) stated that you could be only be terminated for certain defined reasons and/or II) guaranteed your job for some set period of time (e.g. a one-year contract)? The reason this is critical is that without written limitations on why you may be terminated or a written guaranty of work for a period of time, your employment may be terminated at will--at any time, for any reason. So while you mention a "contract," unless the contract is in writing and contains one or both of these protections, Amazon could simply decide to terminate you and you would have no recourse; they would not have to look at or act upon any information you believe you have, but could elect to go straight to termination.
If you do have a contract which stated you could only be terminated for certain reasons or which otherwise guaranteed your employment for a set period of time, then to prevail, you would have to sue for breach of contract (or as stated, invoke arbitration if the contract provides for it) and in the court case/lawsuit or arbitration, prove that Amazon violated the terms of the contract: that is, fired you in some way or for some reason not permitted by the contract. The documentation you mention showing that you did deliver properly, etc. would be very helpful in this regard. In either a lawsuit or an arbitration (which differ mostly in the rules/procedures: arbitration is no generally bound by the rules of court or evidence), the key is that as the person suing, you have to prove the other side violated the contract.
In arbitration, you would likely seek your job back plus some protection against being re-fired. In a lawsuit (if you can't go to arbitration), you'd ask for damages or compensation equal to several month's pay--for several technical, procedural reasons, it is easier to get monetary compensation in a lawsuit than an order requiring re-employment, though Amazon could offer to settle by taking you back. Good luck.


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