Amazon worker loses bid for California class action over remote work expenses

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) – Inc on Tuesday defeated a proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of nearly 7,000 workers in California that claimed the company should have reimbursed employees who worked remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic for home office expenses.

U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria in San Francisco said the named plaintiff, David Williams, failed to show that Amazon had a company-wide policy of not reimbursing employees for internet, cell phone and other costs, and the judge denied his motion to certify the workers as a class.

The judge said that more than 600 of the 7,000 proposed class members were reimbursed $66.49 on average for home internet expenses, and some were reimbursed in full.

Williams’ motion for class certification was denied without prejudice, meaning he can file a renewed motion later on. 

Amazon and lawyers for Williams did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Williams sued Amazon in 2021 individually and added class-action claims last year. He has accused Amazon of violating a California law requiring employers to reimburse workers for reasonable work-related expenses.

Chhabria in January denied Amazon’s motion to dismiss the case. The company had argued that it did not owe reimbursements because the costs resulted from government stay-at-home orders and not any decision by Amazon.

Williams’ lawyers have filed similar lawsuits against several other companies including IBM Corp, Fox Broadcasting Co and Oracle Corp. Some of those cases have settled, with businesses agreeing to give remote workers stipends of up to $83 per month to cover home office expenses.

(This story has been refiled to add the dropped word “in” in paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)