Aizenman Law Group Secures Landmark Ruling in Federal Arbitration Case Involving Amazon Delivery Drivers

Tulsa, OK – June 25, 2024 – Caleb Salmon, partner at the Aizenman Law Group, announced a significant legal victory today as the Oklahoma Supreme Court rendered a groundbreaking decision on Amazon delivery drivers’ right to a trial by jury. The court’s ruling addresses critical first impression questions, providing clarity on whether employees who deliver Amazon packages are exempt under federal arbitration law and whether Oklahoma law precludes the enforcement of employment arbitration agreements in such cases.

Key Rulings

  • Federal Arbitration Exemption: The court held that federal law exempts employees who deliver Amazon packages from arbitration. This decision aligns with recent rulings by the United States Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which recognized that Amazon delivery drivers are engaged in interstate commerce and thus fall within the arbitration exemption outlined in the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
  • Exclusive Jurisdiction of Oklahoma District Courts: The court also determined that Oklahoma law precludes arbitration of worker’s compensation retaliatory discharge claims. This ruling emphasizes that the district courts hold exclusive jurisdiction over such claims, reinforcing the statutory protections for employees under Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation laws.

Case Background

The plaintiffs, Spencer Mathis and Jaden Fenstermaker, were employed as local delivery contractors for Amazon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After Mathis was injured by a dog while delivering packages and subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim, the Amazon contractor fired Mathis for making the claim and fired Fenstermaker (his manager) because Mathis filed the claim.  Following their dismissal, Kerr’s actions prevented them from securing employment with other Amazon contractors.

The employees filed a lawsuit in Creek County District Court, seeking a trial by jury. The Amazon contractor moved to compel arbitration based on employment agreements so a jury would never hear the case. However, the plaintiffs contended that their roles as delivery drivers exempted them from arbitration under federal law and that Oklahoma law mandated the district court’s jurisdiction over their claims. The Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed with plaintiffs’ contentions and ruled in their favor in an 8-1 decision.

Implications of the Ruling

This landmark decision not only safeguards the rights of Amazon delivery drivers in Oklahoma but also sets a precedent for similar cases nationwide. It underscores the importance of state and federal protections for workers engaged in interstate commerce and affirms the legislative intent behind Oklahoma’s exclusive jurisdiction over workers’ compensation retaliation claims.
Caleb Salmon, who represented the plaintiffs, stated, “This ruling is a significant step forward in protecting the rights of Amazon delivery drivers and ensuring that their grievances are heard in the appropriate legal forums.”

For more information, please contact Aizenman Law Group at 918-426-4878.

About Aizenman Law Group: Aizenman Law Group is a leading award-winning law firm specializing in civil litigation. With a commitment to justice and client advocacy, the firm has successfully represented numerous clients in complex legal matters across Oklahoma and beyond.

Aizenman Law Group has secured verdicts and settlements for tens of millions of dollars and has proudly obtained numerous record-setting recoveries for a variety of injury and insurance denial cases.