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Amazon delivery drivers around the country are being told they can be fired for leaving behind or forgetting bottles filled with their urine in Amazon delivery vans. In recent days, Amazon delivery drivers have been posting in online forums about the unfairness of this being a fireable offense. Many Amazon delivery drivers say peeing in bottles is an unfortunate, but unavoidable aspect of delivering packages for Amazon typically under extreme time constraints. The topic of getting fired for leaving behind pee bottles has popped up recently after someone posted what they said was a letter from an Amazon delivery service partner on an Amazon driver subreddit.
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“Under no circumstances will a Delivery Associate urinate in bottles and leave the human waste in delivery vans,” the message said. “Amazon’s policy for urine bottles found in delivery vans is immediate termination.” Motherboard was unable to verify the validity of the message, but the person who posted it said that it came from an Amazon delivery service partner in northern Virginia. Regardless, according to four Amazon delivery drivers who reached out to Motherboard, their Amazon delivery companies will fire drivers for leaving pee bottles in vans. Other drivers said their companies don’t care, will fire drivers after a few offenses, or fine them.Paula, an Amazon delivery driver in Indiana, told Motherboard that her delivery company will fire drivers who leave pee bottles in their vans. “If they can prove whose it is, yes. We have people that inspect the vans and no one wants to touch someone else’s pee bottle. I use a she-wee and just keep dumping it when needed.” Last year, Amazon's corporate news account tweeted denying that its workers pee in bottles. “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” the tweet said. The company publicly apologized, but since then the image of Amazon workers peeing in bottles has become a common reference point for discussing unreasonable productivity expectations and poor working conditions at Amazon.
According to drivers, it’s not technically Amazon who is firing the workers for peeing in bottles. Amazon delivery drivers are technically employed by contractors, known as Amazon delivery service partners, who fire workers for leaving behind pee bottles. Still, Amazon controls delivery drivers’ routes, package quotas, and the terms of their employment, and Amazon plays a direct role in leaving drivers with few options other than to pee in bottles. Under pressure to deliver hundreds of packages during 10 hour shifts, Amazon’s drivers need to make every second on their shift count in order to avoid termination. Many drivers skip, or are denied, 30-minute lunch and 15-minute rest breaks. And instead of spending time locating a bathroom and parking, which can set a driver behind schedule, as Motherboard has previously reported, a driver will pee in a cup, bag, bottle, or she-wee, a pee contraption for females, in the back of their van.
Damian Bailey, an Amazon delivery driver for Pioneering Logistics in the United Kingdom who quit last week, said his employer fined drivers 15 pounds for leaving behind pee bottles in vans. “There’s nothing fair about Amazon,” he said, adding that there was no time to pee elsewhere, “with 180 stops and 300 parcels” per route. The owner of an Amazon delivery company wrote to Motherboard that he has fired drivers for leaving behind their pee in bottles, but only “on a rare basis.” “We have a 2 strike rule. First time you get a warning, the second time you can get terminated. It’s a gross bio hazard and should not have to be dealt with by other drivers or mgmt staff.” In a Reddit post, with a photo of an email from an Amazon delivery company with the subject line “Pee Bottles,” said “Hi Rockers, with lots of newbies on the team, I’m going to officially state [the] policy on pee-bottles in vans. YOU WILL 100% be TERMINATED if you are the last person to drive a van and you leave a Pee bottle in the van.” The driver who posted the email wrote, “I Quit! After receiving this email, I really had to look inward and reflect on what I was doing… That day I said I couldn’t do it anymore.”
In another post titled “Fired over a pee bottle?,” a person who identified themselves as an Amazon delivery driver also recently wrote that a colleague lost his job because he left behind a pee bottle in a van. “My buddy left his pee bottle in a trash bag but accidentally forgot it, he got fired for peeing in a bottle?” Three people responded to the post saying that it was a fireable offense at their Amazon delivery companies. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment about whether it has a policy related to drivers peeing in vans or leaving their pee behind in vans.