You might be shocked to discover that in this day and age, some employees are forced by aggressive production quotas to originate in water bottles in order to avoid being fired. Unfortunately, not only is this happening at one of the world’s biggest companies—Amazon—but Amazon was forced to publicly apologize and admit that it was doing just that to its drivers and warehouse employees.
Prompted in part by these—and other instances—of horrific working conditions at distribution facilities of all kinds, the California Legislature recently passed AB 701, a bill that introduces new protections for employees who work in a warehouse distribution center and are required to meet a production quota at work.
Who is Protected under AB 701?
The law applies to any non-exempt employee who works at a warehouse distribution center that employs more than 100 employees at the center or at least 1,000 employees in multiple centers throughout the state. The law applies broadly, including to warehouse distribution centers used for general warehousing and storage, for wholesalers selling durable and nondurable goods, and for electronic shopping and mail-order businesses.
The law specifically includes staffing agencies and temporary service agencies, so even if the owner of the distribution center isn’t the employer on your paystub, you are likely still protected.
What AB 701 Prohibit?
AB 701 provides two basic protections to covered employees.
First, employers must provide to employees upon hire with a written description of any quotas that apply to the employee. This notice must include: the quantified number of tasks to be performed or materials to be produced or handled; the defined time period for those tasks; and any potential adverse employment action that could result from failure to meet the quota.
Second, the law makes illegal any quota that would prevent an employee from exercising their right to take meal or rest periods, prevent them from complying with occupational safety laws, or prevent them from getting to or using a bathroom.
Moreover, it prohibits employers from disciplining employees who fail to meet quotas that were not previously disclosed, that do not allow a worker to take their meal and rest periods, or otherwise violate health and safety laws.
That is, the law essentially prohibits terminating an employee for failing to meet a quota when the quota demands cannot be accomplished during A shift while still allowing the employee to take legally required breaks or use of the bathroom. In other respects, quotas generally remain legal.
A “quota” is defined as “a work standard under which an employee is assigned or required to perform at a specified productivity speed, or perform a quantified number of tasks, or to handle or produce a quantified amount of material, within a defined time period and under which the employee may suffer an adverse employment action if they fail to complete the performance standard.” Basically, it applies to any requirement governing how many items or tasks must be completed by a given employee in a given shift or other time period.
Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for Complaining About a Quota?
No. You can’t be retaliated against for asserting rights under AB 701. The law specifically protects employees who request information about a quota or make a complaint about a quota. Even if the quota is found to be lawful, retaliating against an employee for raising reasonable complaints is illegal.
Talk to an Experienced Employment Attorney Today
At King & Siegel LLP, we have helped hundreds of workers stand up to their employers. If you believe you have been adversely affected by an excessive or illegal quota, or retaliated for asserting your rights, we are here to help.
Need legal help? We provide free, confidential consultations to California workers. You should contact us as soon as possible to make sure your claim is still within the time limits set by law. Contact us today through our website or give us a call at (213) 214-3757 to schedule a free consultation.