Amazon can’t compel individual arbitration in an independent contractor misclassification lawsuit filed by its drivers, a federal judge in Washington ruled last week, JDSupra reports.
The case, Rittman v. Amazon.com is a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action alleging that Amazon misclassified its delivery drivers as independent contractors. Originally filed in 2016, the case took on new direction following the US Supreme Court ruling that carrier companies cannot enforce arbitration agreements because the Federal Arbitration Act exempts transportation workers.
According to court documents, all but 165 of the thousands of putative class members of Rittman were parties to a contract that contained a provision mandating individual arbitration.
US District Judge John Coughenour denied Amazon’s motion to compel arbitration last week in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, saying that the Federal Arbitration Act was inapplicable and that Washington state law can’t be used to enforce the arbitration provision.
The exclusion of transportation workers from the Federal Arbitration Act is for “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” Because the workers did not cross state lines, Amazon argued the exemption did not apply.
However, because the workers delivered goods shipped from around the US to the ultimate consumer, the court reasoned the transportation worker exemption did apply, even if the workers never crossed state lines. Further, the court determined a strike by the workers would interrupt interstate commerce.
JDSupra discusses the ruling in more detail.