Amazon and Washington AG reach agreement on criminal background check notices for Flex drivers

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Amazon has made voluntary changes to its app for Flex delivery drivers in accordance with a Washington state law designed to provide a more level playing field for job applicants with criminal records, a new court filing shows.

The changes resolve an investigation launched by the office of Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson in March 2020, according to the Nov. 17 filing by Assistant AG Marsha Chien in King County Superior Court in Seattle.

The investigation focused on Amazon’s compliance with Washington state’s Fair Chance Act, which prevents companies from mentioning criminal background checks in job advertisements and application forms before determining that job applicants are otherwise qualified for a particular role.

Amazon admits no wrongdoing, according to the filing. The company says it didn’t seek information on Flex drivers’ criminal history until after the sign-up process, or until it determined that they were otherwise qualified, the filing says.

The state, however, cites examples including a welcome page in the Flex app that “explained that eligibility for delivery opportunity was dependent on passing a criminal background check.” The state says Amazon’s statements were made before determining prospective Flex drivers’ basic eligibility for the role.

Beyond this, Amazon denies that it qualifies as an “employer” of Flex drivers under the law, the filing says. Flex drivers, who deliver Amazon packages in their own vehicles, are classified by Amazon as independent contractors.

Nonetheless, to resolve the investigation, Amazon made changes to the Flex app “which include removing any requirement or reference to the need for a criminal background check as part of the sign-up process for a prospective [Flex driver] prior to collecting information necessary to Amazon’s determination of whether the individual is otherwise qualified for a delivery opportunity,” according to the filing.

In conjunction with the legal filing, known as an “Assurance of Discontinuation,” Amazon will pay $18,714 to the Washington AG, which includes a $750 fine and covers costs of investigating the case and monitoring compliance.

We’ve contacted Amazon for comment on the case.


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