The question is whether a particular worker at Amazon is a salaried manager or an hourly laborer. The answer could make all the difference, because managers do not get overtime pay and hourly workers do. If Michael Ortiz was mischaracterized as a manager, when he in fact wasn't, then he may be owed back pay -- and potentially so could others in his position.
According to the New York Times, the suit was filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court by former Amazon employee Michael Ortiz, who accuses the company of failing to pay him overtime wages. The law firm that filed the case said over 1,000 Amazon employees in California could be in the same boat: misclassified workers who are collectively missing out on millions of dollars.
Ortiz's job title was "Level-4 Manager." But in reality, Ortiz said, he wasn’t actually a manager. He said he barely supervised, but instead spent much of his day moving boxes and unjamming conveyor belts. His lawyer, Scott Cole, said that's not salaried manager work. It’s hourly manual labor.
"The company has misclassified these managers and is thereby paying them the same amount of money, whether they work 40 hours per week or 80 hours per week," said Cole. That means no overtime pay, even though Ortiz said he consistently worked more than eight hours per day and 40 hours per week.
"It’s an insidious violation of California's wage and hour laws," said Cole, who has also said he will seek class-action status for the suit. He hopes to expand the case to all those in California who are in a similar position: so-called managers who move boxes.
An Amazon spokesperson said the company does not comment on pending lawsuits.