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'It's dehumanizing': Amazon delivery drivers' lawsuit claims they aren't allowed bathroom breaks

The lawsuit filed in Denver District Court by three Colorado delivery drivers says they're forced to urinate in bottes or risk serious health complications.

DENVER — Three Colorado delivery drivers filed a lawsuit Monday in Denver District Court against Amazon over company policies that discourage bathroom breaks and force drivers to urinate in bottles in their delivery vans.

In the complaint, the drivers asked for class-action lawsuit status against the e-commerce giant, saying the company violates Colorado labor laws that requires employers to provide workers with paid rest breaks for every four hours of work.

The company's work policies "require its delivery drivers in Colorado to urinate in bottles in the back of delivery vans, defecate in bags, and, in  many cases, to restrain themselves from using the bathroom at risk of serious consequences," the lawsuit says.

This is due to Amazon's strict system that requires drivers to meet delivery quotas on a route and schedule set by Amazon that is tracked by GPS and surveillance cameras inside delivery vehicles. Any driver whose vehicle is stopped for more than five minutes gets a call from dispatch "urging them to continue their route so that Amazon's specified timeframes can be met," according to the lawsuit.

Drivers who don't meet delivery goals can be audited and fired, the lawsuit says.

Supervisors tell drivers to take "pee bottles" from delivery vehicles and to urinate where surveillance cameras can't see them. Trash cans at Amazon fulfillment centers are frequently full of bottles of urine that drivers throw away at the end of their shifts, the lawsuit says.

“I fought for this country in Iraq, but I had an easier time going to the bathroom in a combat zone than I did while working for Amazon,” said Ryan Schilling, one of the three drivers suing Amazon. “Twice I’ve had to defecate so badly that I’ve had to use dog waste bags in the back of delivery vans. I knew that if I tried to stop to go to a gas station, I’d get yelled at and maybe lose my job.”

Female drivers face additional difficulty with urinating into a bottle and taking care of menstruation needs, the lawsuit says.

"I was told I couldn’t even stop to pick up some sanitary products," said plaintiff Leah Cross. "With this lawsuit, I’m fighting for Amazon to treat humans like humans."

Amazon spokesperson Sam Stephenson told 9NEWS in a statement: “We want to make it clear that we encourage our Delivery Service Partners to support their drivers. That includes giving drivers the time they need for breaks in between stops, providing a list within the Amazon Delivery app of nearby restroom facilities and gas stations, and building in time on routes to use the restroom or take longer breaks.”

The plaintiffs — who are represented by Towards Justice, Terrell Marshall Law Group and Public Justice — are asking for unpaid wages, damages and court costs. The lawsuit requests class-action status for all Amazon delivery drivers in Colorado over the past six years.

“No worker should have to use a dog waste bag to defecate while working," said Valerie Collins, an attorney with Toward Justice. "It’s dehumanizing and unlawful.”

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