Former Amazon Warehouse Manager Sues for Overtime Pay

AmazonThe former manager of an Amazon warehouse has sued the company, claiming that it failed to pay him for the overtime he worked.

As reported by the New York Times, Michael Ortiz was a shift manager for several Amazon warehouses in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ortiz claims that he was improperly classified as an "exempt" employee and thus considered by Amazon not eligible for overtime pay. He also said he would seek class action status for his case, and include other employees with similar situations as plaintiffs.


The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that most employees in the United States be paid at least the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is, at the moment, $7.25 per hour.

States and municipalities can set their own minimum wages at higher rates, and 29 states do so. The highest minimum wage in the US is $11 per hour, and it's scheduled to go up in a number of places.

In addition, employees covered by the FLSA must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. Section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wages and overtime pay rules. This exempt status applies to employees in certain executive, administrative, computer, and outside sales positions.

To be exempt as an executive, for example:

  • an employee must earn at least $455 per week
  • the employee's primary duty must be managing an enterprise, department, or subdivision
  • the employee must regularly direct the work of at least two other full-time employees
  • the employee must have authority to hire and fire other employees

Amazon Managers

Most Amazon entry-level warehouse workers, who are called "associates," are eligible for overtime pay.

However, salaried managers are not.

Ortiz said that when he was hired as a shift manager he was told most of his work would be supervisory. Instead, he claims, most of his job involved manual labor, and some of it was dangerous.

He was terminated after 11 months on the job when he slipped while climbing on a conveyor belt to clear jammed packages and cut his eye.

Standing on the conveyor belt was a violation of company policy, and Ortiz said he was told to lie about the cause of his injury.

In California, the legal burden is on an employer to prove that an employee is not entitled to overtime. To do that, an employer must prove that more than half of an employee's job involves managerial responsibilities.

Security Checks

A temp agency providing workers for Amazon was previously sued by employees seeking overtime pay for the time they spent waiting to get through security, to be checked for theft. In 2014, the US Supreme Court ruled that the temps were not eligible for extra pay for the security checks, which could take up to 25 minutes per day.

As brick-and-mortar retail is in decline, Amazon is thriving. The company has announced plans to hire 100,000 new employees over the next 18 months.

Photo Credit: By Álvaro Ibáñez from Madrid, Spain (Amazon España por dentro) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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