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California Bill Protects Warehouse Workers from Unsafe Quotas

September 14, 2021
By Michelle Michelle Perez-Yanez

On September 8, 2021, the California Senate passed AB 701, a bill aimed at providing limitations on companies that enforce speed quotas on warehouse workers in warehouse distribution centers. 

The purpose of the bill is to ensure that employees not be required to meet quotas that prevent compliance with meal or rest periods, use of bathroom facilities, or occupational health and safety laws. 

If Signed Into Law, What Protections Will Be Required?

The bill requires employers to provide a written description of each quota employees are subject to, including the quantified number of tasks to be performed or materials to be produced or handled, and any potential adverse employment action that could result from failure to meet the quota within 30 days of hiring or within 30 days after the law comes into effect. 

The bill provides transparency between the company and the employee as to the productivity levels expected of each employee. It will also prevent companies from terminating employees for failing to meet unrealistic quotas that force employees to compromise their health and safety to meet a company’s bottom line.

Employees Have the Right to Request and Review Quotas

Under AB 701, if a current or former employee believes that meeting a quota caused a violation of their right to a meal or rest period or required them to violate any occupational health and safety law or standard, they have the right to request, and the employer is required to provide, a written description of each quota to which the employee is subject, as well as a copy of the most recent 90 days of the employee’s personal work speed data.

In addition, there is a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employer in any manner discriminates, retaliates, or takes any adverse action against any employee within 90 days of the employee:

(a) Requesting the employer provide information about a quota or personal work speed data; or

(b) Making a complaint related to a quota alleging any violation the law, to the employer, commissioner, the division, or local or state governmental agency.

Attorney’s Fees 

Notably, the bill provides for attorneys’ fees for those who seek legal action pursuant to AB 701 which creates access to justice for affected employees. 

Publication of Data by the Labor Commissioner

By January 1, 2023, the Labor Commissioner is required to report: (1) the number of claims filed with the commissioner under this bill; (2) data on warehouse production quotas in warehouses where annual employee injury rates are above the industry average, and (3) the number of investigations and enforcement actions initiated.

If passed into law, AB 701 will expose unsafe work quotas set by companies like Amazon and give power to employees who depend on these jobs to provide for their families and until now have had no alternative but to prioritize quota compliance over their own safety.

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