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Forcing Workers Into Arbitration Does Not Align With Amazon’s ‘Day One’ Philosophy

May 30, 2018

Forcing Workers Into Arbitration Does Not Align With Amazon’s ‘Day One’ Philosophy

Public Citizen Delivers Letter Urging Tech Giant to End Forced Arbitration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amazon should use its shareholder meeting today to end the insidious practice of forcing independent contractors into forced arbitration proceedings, Public Citizen said in a letter signed by 8,561 activists delivered today to the tech giant.

Forced arbitration, also known as “rip-off clauses,” can stop justice for systemic wrongdoing in the workplace by forcing workers into “private” courts for workplace claims such as harassment or wage theft. The use of rip-off clauses in the technology sector particularly is egregious because many of these companies go out of their way to nurture reputations as socially responsible corporations seeking to do good in the world.

The letter states:

Amazon is being sued by workers with whom you contract. Amazon has asked the court to force those workers into private “courts” of their choosing and to prevent the workers from banding together to defend their rights. As a service used by millions of people worldwide, Amazon has the power to influence other companies with its actions. Amazon is seeking to build a second corporate headquarters, with one of its criteria that the location must be a diverse and vibrant environment. And as a tech company that prides itself on a progressive work environment, removing forced arbitration provisions for all claims related to the workplace and employees should be no-brainer.

Remington A. Gregg, Public Citizen’s counsel for civil justice and consumer rights, said, “Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is legendary for his ‘Day One’ philosophy – a focus on always innovating, growing and striving to be the best. Sadly, in this #MeToo moment, Bezos and Amazon are far from Number One. They are lagging far behind first place until they recognize that times have changed. All people who work for Amazon – as an employee, contract worker or anyone in between – should be given the same rights and dignity to access justice if they are wronged. As Amazon shareholders meet, they should think seriously about what type of company they want. Do they want one that is built on putting their people first, or a company that keeps policies in place that silence wrongdoers and protects corporate profits? We hope they’ll make the right choice.”

The full letter can be found here.