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Amazon Has to Disclose How Its Algorithms Judge Workers Per a New California Law

The new "anti-productivity quota" mandates "mega-retailers" to disclose how they monitor, reward, and discipline workers.

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that will bar "mega-retailers" like Amazon, from firing warehouse workers for missing quotas, according to the San Francisco Gate. Mega-retailers, those companies that employ more than 1,000 warehouse workers, will now have to disclose how their algorithms judge worker productivity.

“We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people,” Newsom,  said in a news release announcing he had signed the law according to the San Francisco Gate.

The new law will also ensure that mega-retailers cannot discipline workers for following health and safety laws and will allow employees to sue for suspension of unsafe quotas or combating retaliation. 

The bill, AB 701, goes into effect on January 1 and gives mega-retailers just 30 days to disclose "each quota to which the employee is subject." Mega-retailers will now have to outline "the quantified number of tasks to be performed, or materials to be produced or handled, within the defined time period, and any potential adverse employment action that could result from failure to meet the quota."

Going forward, warehouse workers who think their quotas lead to unsafe behavior will be able to ask for 90 days' worth of documentation of how their work meets or fails the quotas. Although the new bill targets all major mega-retailers, it seems like it will have the most effect on Amazon.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a lawyer and former labor leader who authored the law, said that several labor advocacy groups such as the Warehouse Worker Resource Center and the Strategic Organizing Center have revealed that Amazon employees are far more likely to suffer serious injuries than those working in other warehouses such as Walmart.

The new bill would also allow California's workplace regulators to investigate a worksite that had an annual employee injury rate at least 1.5 times higher than the warehousing industry’s average. No word was said about how the new law plans to regulate employee surveillance.

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