Amazon Changes Gatekeeping Policies in Light of Staffing Shortage

06/10/2021

Amazon is suggesting that removing drug testing requirements for couriers may help with the current staffing shortage. Company officials stated that hiring marijuana users could increase the number of job applicants by as much as 400%.

In June 2020, Amazon relaxed its rules regarding cannabis use. They are now discussing the non-monitoring of cannabis use for all delivery drivers that operate their classic blue vans. Amazon says marijuana detection reduces its pool of potential workers by 30%.

Some Companies Hesitate to Remove Drug Screening Requirements

The small partner delivery companies that operate these blue vans are hesitant to eliminate marijuana detection methods because they are concerned about liability if an auto accident occurs, especially in states where cannabis use is still illegal. They are also concerned that the elimination of testing may incite more frequent marijuana use for drivers before and during work hours. One of the delivery partners argues that a positive test for marijuana would create serious liability if a driver crashes and kills someone.

Despite partner liability concerns for using an impaired delivery driver, Amazon wants to hire more drivers and eliminate marijuana testing. They are pressuring the federal government to legalize marijuana in all 50 states. In a recent statement, Amazon officials claimed that marijuana testing disproportionately affects black and Hispanic communities and slows job growth in those sectors. At the same time officials expressed a zero-tolerance for employees who work under the influence of drugs. These confusing statements directly contradict their desire to hire more marijuana users and stop marijuana testing.

Amazon has built a huge logistics operation by creating a network of independent contractors across the country. This allows them to expand and shrink the delivery force as needed while avoiding higher costs for permanent employees. Amazon directs the delivery deadlines, destinations, and routes for its network of contract delivery drivers, but when delivery driver accidents occur they avoid liability. If drivers crash while smoking marijuana, Amazon will also escape liability.