In May 2019, Ahaji Amos set up in a limited liability corporation to create a delivery company for Amazon packages in Durham, North Carolina. Nearly three years later, Amos is suing Amazon Logistics, alleging that the company misled her about the potential for success in the partnership and claiming that Amazon designed the program to make it nearly impossible for the LLC to be profitable or independent.
The suit, filed on Jan. 24 in the Middle District of North Carolina against Amazon Logistics, claims that Amazon relies on the federal Paycheck Protection Program loans to keep DSPs, or delivery service partners, from financial collapse. Amos' lawsuit is not the first to allege that the DSP program misrepresents payment information and is designed to set unmeetable expectations; two DSPs in Oregon sued Amazon Logistics with similar allegations in October 2021.
"Instead of paying DSPs fairly, Amazon relied on the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to keep DSPs operational, thereby using taxpayer’s money to pay for its operations. On information and belief, nearly all DSPs are currently operating at a loss due to Amazon’s control of the DSP program and rely on PPP funds to stay afloat. Amazon knows this because it performs an annual financial review of most DSPs’ accounting records," attorneys Danielle Barbour Wilson and Jesse H. Rigsby wrote for Amos in the complaint.
Amazon had advertised that any individual — but no group — could apply to become a delivery partner and make as much as $300,000 per year, as long as they set up their own LLC or similar corporation, according to the suit. So Amos created Kirk Amos LLC, paid $10,000 to Amazon Logistics to officially join the Delivery Service Partner program, hired delivery drivers and tried to make money delivering packages.
The attorneys alleged in the suit that Amazon made it nearly impossible for the company to achieve the "Fantastic Plus" delivery score that would make it profitable, refused to pay Amos when her workers worked overtime hours and refused to allow Amos to appeal when Amazon decided to discipline, retrain or fire her workers.
The suit also alleges that Amos and her delivery drivers were treated as if they were Amazon employees, required to use Amazon-branded gear, monitored for driving and delivery performance using the Amazon Flex software and disciplined as if Amazon were their employer. Despite that relationship, Amazon required that Amos pay fees for "drivers’ health insurance, Amazon-branded van insurance, dispatcher salaries, manager salaries, driver overtime pay, human resource manager/recruiter, clock in and clock out clerk, payroll processing, driver pay in excess of ten hours per day, and pay for drivers that showed up for work when Amazon canceled a route during pre-route hours," Wilson and Rigsby wrote.
In April 2021, Amazon terminated the DSP partnership with Kirk Amos LLC and claimed that the partnership was ended for three alleged breaches of contract, including "failure to pay employees timely, failure to maintain auto insurance, and failure to properly maintain vehicles," according to the suit. Barbour and Rigsby provided evidence in the suit that they claim proves that all three breaches were false, and they alleged that Amazon tried to fabricate breach of contract incidents in order to make it possible to terminate the DSP contract.
The suit accuses Amazon of breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment and violations of labor laws and asks for more than $25,000 in damages. Amazon and attorneys for Amos did not immediately respond to requests for comment.