Amazon had humble beginnings as an online bookstore based out of its founder Jeff Bezos’ (and ex-wife Mackenzie Scott’s) home garage in Seattle, Washington. Now, it is one of the most valuable brands on the planet, valued at more than $1 trillion.
Like many big companies, Amazon has been involved in numerous controversies, rumors, and legal issues. Its huge success, ubiquity in the e-commerce market, and supposedly humble beginnings (Mr. Bezos’ parents helped fund his startup business in 1995) do not appear to endear it to many people. The company has, in fact, gained some negative press for its allegedly unfair treatment of workers and shady business practices.
Unfulfilling jobs at fulfillment centers
Online purchases surged due to the ongoing pandemic, prompting Amazon to hire more staff, putting its company size at over one million employees. That number would suggest that many people find it to be an attractive company to work for, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Amazon employees in the United States allege that working at the company’s fulfillment centers entails unreasonably long hours and extremely strenuous labor. The same can be said of other jobs — such as being the lead actor in a Mel Gibson film. What some Amazon workers have complained about, however, are otherwise preventable safety hazards. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s 2018 finding that cited Amazon as one of the most unsafe places to work in the United States seems to support these complaints.
Hardworking employees like Jennifer Lawrence and Jackie Chan can tell you that workplace injuries aren’t uncommon, but injuries suffered in Amazon fulfillment centers seem especially egregious. A staff member in Amazon’s New Jersey warehouse claimed that sitting is not allowed while on the clock and that breaks are unfairly short. Other Amazon employees concurred, claiming that they’ve suffered from leg, feet, and back strain from having to stand and walk for 10-12 hours during a shift.
Some employees have also raised concerns about the company’s sick leave policies concerning COVID-19. According to some staff, the company allows them to stay at home if they feel sick but they wouldn’t be paid. There were also complaints about the company’s insufficient protocols in keeping the workplace safe against the spread of coronavirus.
This is probably why over a thousand of its employees have tested positive for the virus, with some staff members citing that the company failed to provide them with protective equipment. Some workers also claimed that basic hygiene measures aren’t encouraged if it means they have to step away from their workstations. The company was sued for “flagrant disregard for health and safety requirements”.
Products that you can’t Add to Cart
It’s not just Amazon employees finding fault in the retail giant but also consumers of its digital content, specifically Amazon Prime subscribers.
Contrary to what people might think, you don't actually get to own the video or other digital content you bought from Amazon Prime. In other words, you don’t get to own an Amazon Prime movie that you purchased the same way that you own a DVD or a Blu-ray disc that you bought.
Upon realizing that the digital media bought from Amazon Prime are not hers to keep forever — due to content provider licensing restrictions or for other reasons — California resident Amanda Caudel filed suit against Amazon. She claimed that this is a misleading business practice that tricks unsuspecting consumers into thinking that they would have actual ownership of the content.
e-books with e-nflated prices
Another lawsuit delivered straight to Mr. Bezos’s inbox comes from some unhappy bookish folks and some lawyers who filed a class-action lawsuit against his $1 trillion-empire. The crime: engaging in an illegal price-fixing scheme in the sale of e-books.
The lawsuit alleged that Amazon and five of the country’s largest publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin-Random House, and Simon & Schuster) were illegally inflating the prices of e-books, forcing bookworms to pay higher prices. It would appear that the goals of the defendants were to make an astonishing amount of profit by eliminating competition.
Interestingly, in 2011, the Big Five publishers had been involved in a similar lawsuit but with a different partner-in-crime: that other trillionaire, Apple Inc. Apple settled for $400 million while the publishers settled for a few million dollars more. For the e-book consumers who won the class-action lawsuit, it was a triumphant day worth celebrating. For the trillion-dollar company, it was just another day that happened to involve more legal paperwork than usual. And the same outcome could be reasonably expected from Amazon’s case.
You can order anything you could possibly need from Amazon.com, except legal advice. For family law or personal injury issues in the Evergreen state, contact attorneys Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams to make sure that favorable results come your way.