Amazon.com Inc. workers seeking to recoup expenses they incurred while working from home during the pandemic moved a step closer to trial when a California judge threw out the e-commerce giant’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.
California-based engineer, David Williams, claimed in the proposed class-action lawsuit that the company violated state laws by failing to come up with a policy to compensate workers for remote work-related expenses.
The suit reflects the mounting legal headache facing companies, including Amazon and Wells Fargo, that are seeing a flurry of complaints being filed by workers looking to recoup expenses for expenses they paid for while working from home during the pandemic.
The ruling is a blow to Amazon which had argued it isn’t liable because expenses incurred by employees including home internet and equipment costs stemmed from government orders to shelter-in-place and not from the company.
Even if the company’s argument were true, “that does not absolve Amazon of liability,” U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said in his order. “What matters is whether Williams incurred those expenses ‘in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer.'”
A spokesperson for Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Williams said in his complaint that the proposed class-action could cover several thousand workers employed by Amazon in California who ended up footing monthly bills of $50 to $100 to pay for expenses that facilitated remote work.
The ruling allows Williams’s claims on California labor code violations to move forward. Chabbria granted Amazon’s request to dismiss claims that its conduct violated California’s unfair competition law but gave Williams an opportunity to revise the complaint.
The case is Williams v. Amazon.com Services LLC et al, 3:22-cv-01892, in the Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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