California has become the first state in the nation to ban companies like Amazon from firing warehouse workers who miss quotas due to bathroom and rest breaks. AB 701 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday.
“We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people. The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” Newsom said in a news release announcing he had signed the law.
The bill also prevents mega-retailers from disciplining workers for following health and safety standards and allows employees to suspend unsafe quotas or reverse retaliation. AB 701 was authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who accused Amazon of disciplining warehouse workers based on an algorithm that can track an employee's activities throughout the day. The algorithm can also determine when an employee is 'off-task'.
"Amazon is pushing workers to risk their bodies for next-day delivery, while they can't so much as use the restroom without fearing retaliation," Gonzalez said when the Legislature passed her bill.
The law also requires large warehouses to disclose quotas to employees within 30 days. Workers who believe the quotas are unsafe can ask for documentation of how their work speed meets or fails the quota. If the employee is disciplined within 90 days, it is presumed to be retaliation.