Within the confines of an Amazon warehouse in Massachusetts, a concerning pattern of worker injuries has emerged, with many employees grappling to receive due compensation for injuries sustained during their Amazon employment. These challenges include Amazon’s failure to adequately inform workers why they are denied compensation or, at times, payment for only a singular medical treatment despite initial promises of comprehensive coverage.
The labor environment within Amazon warehouses is known for its rigorous demands, posing the first of several hurdles for workers navigating workplace injuries. According to a report by the Boston Globe on July 24, 2021, Amazon faced one of the highest injury rates in its Massachusetts warehouses, standing at 11.8 injuries per 100 workers.
Amidst these injuries, workers encounter difficulties in obtaining proper support from the company for medical bills and fair compensation. Instances include a worker struggling for two years to secure payment for medical bills after a bed frame accident, another facing challenges in obtaining workers’ compensation for shoulder injuries, and a third initially approved for physical therapy only to face non-payment and session cancellations.
The Fall River warehouse, specifically, has garnered attention for having one of the highest injury rates among all Amazon facilities. Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation even investigated the facility’s safety measures. One injured worker remarked that it becomes disheartening when hurt, as injured employees seem to become less valuable to the company.
The primary sources of workers’ discontent revolve around Amazon and the firm handling their cases, Sedgwick Claims Management Services. In various incidents, workers experienced hurdles in accessing promised payments and healthcare benefits, leading to confusion and frustration.
Workers’ compensation attorneys and experts suggest that these challenges are widespread, particularly within large employers like Amazon. Instances of delayed payments and prolonged disputes over claims seem to be part of a broader pattern of denying injuries and making workers undergo challenging processes.
When an Amazon worker is injured, the standard compensation process should follow a specific method. Employers are mandated to notify the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) within seven days when an employee misses over five days of work due to a workplace injury or illness. State law requires employers to pay 60% of the employee’s average weekly wage and cover medical treatment if the employee cannot work for over five days due to the injury.
However, Amazon workers have accused the company and its claims management firm of making access to legally mandated payments and healthcare convoluted and difficult. Many employees endure months of minimal benefits, exacerbating their struggles.
The establishment of the Fall River Amazon warehouse in 2017, one of the city’s largest employers, came with a 15-year tax exemption, valued at approximately $100 million. This decision, approved in less than three minutes by the Fall River City Council, was contingent on Amazon guaranteeing 500 jobs by 2019, a commitment that was quickly surpassed.
Amid calls for better working conditions in new Amazon warehouses, labor groups in Massachusetts have faced challenges as Amazon resisted employee unionization efforts. OSHA complaints against the Fall River Amazon warehouse were filed, citing safety concerns, but none led to full investigations. Workers have expressed frustration with the alleged pattern of Amazon denying injuries and complicating claims, underscoring the need for systemic changes to ensure the well-being of Amazon’s workforce.
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