Amazon wants to compete not only with other sellers, but with delivery companies like UPS and FedEx. To do it, they have a program called Amazon Flex, which pays drivers to make deliveries for them. However, a number of those drivers are now suing, saying that Amazon violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA.

Contractors or Employees

The issue at the heart of the lawsuit is whether or not the drivers are actually employees. Amazon says that they can "be their own boss" and claims that they're contract workers. This means that they don't actually work for Amazon, but are given individual contracts for each job that they can fulfill if they desire. This also, theoretically, gives them the option to work when they want and to take time off when they want. Amazon says the drivers like the freedom this provides.

The drivers, though, say that they are actually employees. They can be fired by Amazon at any time, the company trains them to do the job, and they have supervisors with whom they work closely the whole time. In short, they don't feel like they are "their own boss" at all, thinking of themselves as employees.

What's the Problem?

The big issue here, according to the drivers, is that they're being mis-classified. By calling them contract workers, Amazon doesn't have to give them benefits, insurance, paid time off, or overtime pay. Amazon gets to cut its own costs and still get the work done, they say, by violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Gig Economy

The so-called "gig economy" has been in the news a lot lately, with companies like Uber and Lyft facing some of the same questions about their contract workers. With a giant like Amazon now involved, this case could go a long way toward defining what an employee really is, how contract workers can be used, and what employee rights these individuals have.