Amazon's “last-mile” warehouse in Carle Place.

Amazon's “last-mile” warehouse in Carle Place. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Warehouse workers in New York State cannot be fired for reporting violations of a new law that permits them to take breaks for meals and to use the restroom, even if by doing so they miss a work quota, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced.

The Warehouse Worker Protection Act applies to employers with a single warehouse where 100 or more people work or with a network of warehouses with a total workforce of 1,000 or more people, such as Amazon.

The law, signed by Hochul in December, requires employers to comply with employee requests for written information about the work quotas that they are expected to meet, including work speed data for current and former employees.

The law also forbids the firing of employees who don’t meet quotas that they’ve not been told about or that don’t permit them to take meal breaks and to use the bathroom.

The law went into effect on Monday. To file a complaint, go to https://dol.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2023/06/sh210_2.pdf or bit.ly/3NjHjF4.

On Long Island, more than 11,000 people are employed by warehousing and storage companies, according to the state Department of Labor.

“Our warehouse workers play a significant role in keeping our supply chain moving, and they deserve to be treated fairly and equitably …[The new law will] ensure these workers are not taken advantage of and are given the protections they deserve,” Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said on Monday.

The authors of the new law, State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Jackson Heights, Queens) and Assemb. Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx), cited workplace injury rates at Amazon warehouses across the state, including on Long Island.

Statewide, the rate of injuries per 100 Amazon warehouse employees was 8.2 in 2022. On the Island, the rate was 6.4 and 5.5 at the online retailer's two Bethpage warehouses, 9.9 in Westhampton Beach, 9.2 in Holbrook, 8.3 in Shirley-East Yaphank, 5.7 in Syosset, 4.8 in Carle Place and 1.1 in Melville, according to data that Amazon voluntarily reported to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said on Monday that the retailer doesn’t have fixed quotas for its warehouse personnel.

“It’s our top priority to keep our employees safe,” she said. “That comes before everything else we do, and it’s why we invest, invent and innovate in safety, going above and beyond the basics.”

Lighty said Amazon “agrees with the goals” of the new law despite the law being “based on a misunderstanding of our business performance metrics. Amazon does not have fixed quotas at our facilities. Instead, we assess performance based on safe and achievable expectations and take into account time and tenure, peer performance, and adherence to safe work practices,” she said.

Amazon had nearly 2,000 employees at eight warehouses on Long Island last year, according to OSHA records. The company has since closed one warehouse in Bethpage, and warehouses on Route 110 in Melville and in Woodmere "are not active yet," spokeswoman Smitha Rao said on Tuesday.

More information about the new law is available at https://dol.ny.gov/WWPA.

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