AB 701 Targets Poor Warehouse Work Culture in California

Taking aim at the use of quotas at warehouse distribution centers in California, Assembly Bill 701 requires companies with sizable warehouse distribution centers to disclose pace-of-work standards and quotas to workers either upon hire. As our Los Angeles employee rights attorneys can explain, companies are being required to provide a written description of each quota to which the employee is subject – including:

  • Quantified number of tasks to be performed/materials to be produced/handled within a defined period of time.
  • Any potential negative consequences that could result from failure to meet that quota. Los Angeles employee rights attorney

By regulating warehouse performance metrics, state lawmakers have sought to hold huge warehouse conglomerates, such as Amazon, accountable for logistics facilities quotes that many argue make these workspaces unsafe.

The bill faced sharp opposition from business interests, but nonetheless passed and was approved by the governor. The measure is intended to empower warehouse workers against unsafe quotas set by algorithms. High workplace injury rates have been closely associated with unreasonable productivity goals.

Supporters of the bill call it a historic victory for warehouse workers, with potential national implications given that California is known to set the precedent for other states with regard to significant legislative efforts. The bill bars any quota that would prevent workers from taking mandated breaks or obtaining access to the bathroom as needed. Quota provisions that prevent companies from maintaining compliance with health and safety laws are also prohibited.

Those who opposed the measure spent months and a fair amount of money lobbying against it. The state’s Chamber of Commerce was among the entities who rallied against the bill, arguing it would kill jobs. That organization did eventually back down, but only once supporters agreed to axe a provision that would have required state worker regulatory agency Cal/OSHA to establish a rule minimizing musculoskeletal injuries among warehouse employees. Supporters say the high rates of musculoskeletal injuries among warehouse workers is still deeply concerning, and evidence additional action may be necessary in the future to improve warehouse safety.

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can further explain, the law also gives current and former employees alleging illegal labor practices an opportunity to pursue injunctive relief. In other words, instead of simply suing for damages or even penalties, workers who lose their jobs as a result of dangerous or unfair quotas that violate the law could pursue legal action to reverse their firing and get their jobs back.

Warehouse company lobbyists are warning that consumers are going to pay higher prices because the costs of manufacturing, storage, and distribution will increase as a result. But the treatment of warehouse workers at companies like Amazon was already under increased scrutiny in the wake of the pandemic, though it had been on the radar and under the microscope of labor rights leaders for years. Efforts are still underway to organize and potentially unionize warehouse workers, which might give them more bargaining power in dealing with massive companies with seemingly infinite legal resources.

Workers whose rights have been violated should seek the advice of an experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Newport Beach, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

California takes on Amazon, advancing a bill that regulates tough warehouse work metrics, Sept. 8, 2021, By Shuhuana Hussein, The Los Angeles Times

More Blog Entries:

Worker Says California Pregnancy Discrimination at Amazon Caused Her to Miscarry, Aug. 29, 2021, Los Angeles Employment Lawyer Blog

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