month after she suffered warmth exhaustion and also lost her job in an Amazon.com warehouse in Breinigsville, Rosemarie Fritchman satellite in a little conference room pleading for unemployment benefits of around $160 a week.

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Opposing she at the hearing before a state referee, who would decision whether Fritchman was eligible for the benefit, to be a human resources agent representing she employer.


The testimony the Gwen Golbreski, the person resources representative, was brief and procedural: "She to be terminated for attendance," claimed Golbreski, that attended multiple hearings involving Amazon warehouse workers that day. "We have actually a no-fault attendance policy."


Fritchman, 67, remained poised and gave a detailed account about how she struggled functioning in brutal warmth until clinical personnel check her and also told her to go home. Following agency policy, she listed a doctor"s keep in mind upon return to work, and she to be still terminated there is no explanation, she said.


"I go the finest I could under those working conditions," stated Fritchman, speaking an ext forcefully in she closing remarks. "I didn"t want to end up in one ambulance."


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This scene has come to be commonplace due to the fact that Amazon opened a Lehigh sink warehouse in 2010. But the human being resources certified dealer is no from Amazon. She functions for truth Staffing Solutions, a company paid by Amazon to recruitment workers who unload boxes, process orders and pack shipments for the gigantic online retailer.


The short-lived staffing for sure plays a an important role in Amazon warehouses around the country, especially throughout the busy Christmas shopping season. Its partnership with Amazon has made truth Staffing services the greatest temporary-employment for sure in the Lehigh Valley and one of the fastest-growing organ of its type in the country.


component of its duty is fighting to save its workers from collecting unemployment benefits after they have lost a project at Amazon.


truth Staffing remedies is affiliated in more unemployment compensation very nice one hearings — hundreds every year — than virtually all other employers in Pennsylvania, according to a state resource with access to the confidential records. It even surpasses Walmart, the state"s largest private-sector employer the has much more than 50,000 workers in Pennsylvania, the resource said.


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In the an initial nine months of 2012, integrity Staffing options was associated in an ext than 200 unemployment compensation appeals, the resource said. No other temporary-staffing for sure in Pennsylvania come close to that number.


The exercise reveals one of the methods Amazon keeps prices down and one tactic supplied by a short-term staffing certain to success Amazon"s ongoing business. Big employers such together Amazon have the right to bid short-lived firms against one another, forcing them to look for ways to contain costs, industry specialists said.


The press to keep prices down method many that take temporary tasks at one Amazon warehouse hope it will an outcome in irreversible stability and independence instead find themselves jobless and also fighting because that a public advantage that represents their last jae won resort.


The Morning speak to attended 23 unemployment compensation hearings this year involving temporary Amazon warehouse employees hired by verity Staffing Solutions, including hearings for numerous employees who shed their work following disease or injury. Many workers were fighting for benefits of between $100 and $200 a week.


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supporters for the working poor say the company"s aggressive view on unemployment compensation exploits low-wage earners who need the advantage for food, housing and also other necessities if they find for various other jobs. The employees are frequently outmatched in the unemployment process.


"It"s plain and also simple, play the odds," said Maurice Emsellem, policy co-director the the nationwide Employment law Project. "A lot of of human being don"t display up and a lot of civilization don"t recognize the law. They"re play the odds due to the fact that it helps them financially. Does that cost an ext to have someone show up to the hearings and also win a couple of or does that cost much more to have folks collecting benefits?"


Temporary-staffing experts, top top the various other hand, to speak the industry deals with unique obstacles when it involves unemployment compensation expenses that pressure firms to closely monitor all claims, not simply as a routine company practice however for their very own survival. Precisely how many cases Integrity Staffing options defeats is no public. However, beating even a small fraction of the insurance claims they problem can conserve firms a the majority of money, professionals say.


"Staffing firms room uniquely prone to unemployment insurance claims since people come in and also come out," stated Edward Lenz, an elderly vice president for legal and also public work of the American Staffing Association, one Alexandria, Va., trade association. "We deserve to be disproportionately affected by the nature of our company … . We absolutely tell firms is part of their ideal cost management."


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The Morning contact sent questions and requested interviews through both verity Staffing Solutions and also Amazon.


"Thank you really much for your inquiry," truth Staffing solutions spokeswoman Megan Couch said. "We don"t have anything come offer."


Amazon decreased to attend to its short-lived staffing provider"s authorized in joblessness compensation disputes. Together of July, Amazon had 2,180 employees in its Breinigsville warehouse operation, 1,937 of whom were full-time, long-term employees, Amazon spokeswoman mar Osako said. That the full-time workers in Breinigsville, 70 percent began as temporary employees, she said.


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The agency expected to include 2,000 seasonal work in Breinigsville this year, temporarily copy the size of its regional workforce, Osako said.


"Our operations team wanted me to pass on their thanks for the chance to comment and that they expect the above helps with your story," Osako said.


verity Staffing Solutions" partnership with Amazon goes back an ext than a decade. The big customer has catapulted the firm indigenous a three-person shop come an sector powerhouse. As Amazon has added warehouses transparent the nation to meet growing sales demand, truth Staffing Solutions has recruited momentary employees to execute the grunt work-related in Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee and Virginia, and also in warehouses in Breinigsville and Hazleton.


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The Wilmington, Del., company"s president, CEO and co-founder Todd Bavol in 2011 winner the Philadelphia region Ernst & Young businessman of the Year award. In ~ the time, that attributed his company"s success to "proprietary technology" for regulating large-scale projects.


In a 2009 question-and-answer item in the Philadelphia organization Journal, the talked about driving a BMW and owning a coast house. Bavol said he hoped to boost his company"s annual revenues to $300 million and create a sanctuary for abandoned animals. Put on a marine blazer and no tie, the is pictured next to his dog Lucy, a black and also white Newfoundland.


Bavol, 46, decided "competitive" as words that finest describes him, and said Amazon is the company he admires most because it is a trendsetter willing to take it risks.


on the professional networking website LinkedIn, Bavol explains himself as a "visionary CEO … v a passion for making the impossible possible." post on the profile space accolades that Bavol from various people, including several the his employees at verity Staffing Solutions, his wardrobe consultant and also someone who served as his sales coach.


an English major with a degree from the university of Florida, Bavol to write a workforce blog title "HR Ninja."


In one blog post, the wrote, "At times, complaints deserve to be daunting to hear, yet they"re most regularly the best means to for sure the company has the details it requirements to make the best possible decisions for the future the the organization."


In 2011, integrity Staffing Solutions had actually revenues the $265 million, up 34 percent native the vault year, do it among the fastest-growing temporary-staffing firms in the country, follow to Staffing market Analysts, a company research certain in mountain View, Calif.


most temporary industry expansion is in the an innovation sector, stated Jon Osborne, vice president of research and also editorial at Staffing industry Analysts. What renders Integrity Staffing Solutions" expansion stand out, the said, is the it offer the commercial sector, a competitive and crowded field providing low-skilled employees for hand-operated labor.


There room thousands that such carriers in the country, and also no dominant player. Vain is fierce because it takes small money to start a temporary-staffing business and also clients pick one for sure over an additional primarily on price.


Rosemarie Fritchman"s experience started like the of countless temporary Amazon warehouse workers. She applied for a short-term position hoping the would lead to something better.


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"They to be the just ones that hired me," claimed Fritchman, a widow. "Most civilization think at my period you should be retired and living on a pension. I"m still out there, and it"s not that great."


Fritchman, of Walnutport, deserve $12.75 every hour packing products at the warehouse for around a month in the summer the 2011. At the time, commonwealth regulators to be investigating workers" complaints around brutal warmth that make it feel hotter than 110 degrees in the warehouse some days. Several workers were required to hospital emergency rooms and Amazon had actually ambulances and also paramedics stationed in the parking many on hot days the year come respond to workers suffering heat-stress.


Fritchman stated she experienced heat fatigue on Aug. 8, and warehouse clinical personnel told her to leaving work early after examining her.


temporary workers in ~ the warehouse accumulate points prefer demerits because that being late, leaving work early on or missing shifts. Those who accumulate six points room terminated. Truth Staffing Solutions policies say points for absences will be erased if the worker provides a doctor"s note.


Leaving beforehand that day brought about Fritchman"s 3rd point. She testified the she experienced a medical professional Aug. 9 who told her she had actually heat exhaustion and shouldn"t job-related for a few days. She referred to as Integrity Staffing options to explain and also offered to bring a doctor"s note. A manager told her to lug the keep in mind when she was all set to go back to work. Before her next shift, Fritchman checked out the warehouse to gain her paycheck. She available her doctor"s note at that time, and was again said to save it until her next shift, she said.


Meanwhile, she infractions piled up. Fritchman got a total of three points for missing her move on Aug. 9 and also Aug. 11, pass her complete to six, i m sorry calls for termination.


Fritchman claimed she report for she next change Aug. 15 and also was told she assignment had actually been terminated. She stated she left her doctor"s note at the warehouse v Integrity Staffing solutions managers.


adhering to a termination, the burden of evidence in an unemployment conflict is top top the employee to display the worker prove "willful misconduct." A state unemployment cases administrator identify if benefits room warranted based on the worker"s applications for benefits and the company"s response.


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integrity Staffing solutions told the state cases administrator the Fritchman to be discharged because that absenteeism after being warned around her attendance. Warning an employee before firing lock is an important step in proving "willful misconduct," definition the worker knew what castle were claimed to do and also chose not to execute it.


If that is established, the load shifts ago to the employee to show great cause because that the critical absence.


A state insurance claims administrator the November established that Fritchman"s heat fatigue was a great excuse for her final lack and that she to be eligible for unemployment compensation.


~ above Dec. 15, verity Staffing options appealed the state administrator"s decision, despite it did not dispute any of Fritchman"s claims.


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"We would prefer to appeal this decision due to the fact that the claimant Rosemarie A. Fritchman to be discharged due to the fact that he (sic) violated the attendance policy," Jasmine Bond, Integrity"s unemployment administrator, wrote in the request for an appeal hearing. "The claimant exceeded the preferably allowable attendance infraction limit."


Integrity"s request motivated a Jan. 26 hearing before unemployment appeals referee note Brown in a conference room in a reduced Nazareth Township to buy center. Fritchman and also the company"s representative sat at tables in prior of the referee, an arrangement similar to opposing political parties in a courtroom.


truth Staffing Solutions has a streamlined process for disputing claims. It rental an external contractor to assist with paperwork. Its human resources representatives spend hours at periodically back-to-back joblessness compensation hearings. In 23 hearings attended by The Morning Call, the staffing firm"s to represent didn"t contact a solitary witness with firsthand knowledge of one employee"s departure. Instead, they relied on attendance reports and also performance documents in a worker"s personnel file, and also submitted company policies as evidence.


for instance, Golbreski did no dispute any type of of Fritchman"s testimony about suffering heat exhaustion or happen in a doctor"s note.


"I don"t have that information," Golbreski claimed in response to Fritchman"s testimony. "I"m not conscious of that."


attendees in one appeal can question one another and also Fritchman asked Golbreski if employees sent residence early due to health pertains to still acquire demerits. Golbreski responded: "I think that is correct."


Fritchman"s jae won motives to be clear. She essential the $160 weekly benefit to pay rent, to buy food and also put gas in her car.


companies pay a payroll taxes to assistance the joblessness compensation system. The tax rate is identified in a similar manner to rates for auto insurance. A driver with many crashes and speeding tickets pays greater insurance prices than one without. Similarly, a agency with a the majority of employees collecting unemployment insurance pays an ext than one without. The idea is that a volatile employer puts greater demand on the joblessness compensation system, and should pay more to assistance it, than a steady employer.


staying clear of former workers from collecting unemployment represents money in the bank for the carriers that used to rental them.


The an extremely nature of Amazon"s business, which requires thousands of short-lived warehouse workers throughout the busy holiday purchase season, would certainly leave it prone to high costs for unemployment insurance. Temporary-staffing firms create a buffer in between Amazon and higher unemployment insurance allowance costs because temporary warehouse workers are employees the the agency, not Amazon.


In Pennsylvania in 2011, unemployment insurance prices paid by enterprise ranged indigenous 2.7 percent come 10.8 percent on each employee"s early $8,000 in wages. For a company like integrity Staffing Solutions, which hires thousands of workers in Pennsylvania, the difference between a short rate and also a high rate can add up to countless dollars annually. Pennsylvania keeps the rate for individual businesses confidential.


"The only defensive measure for a agency with a highly fluctuating labor force is to much more aggressively regulate its unemployment compensation process," claimed Steven Whitehead, an Atlanta lawyer who has actually represented short-term staffing firms because 1988. "If you deserve to justify a factor to not be taxation for someone who is not working, friend are enabled to make an discussion … . It"s the method the mechanism is collection up, correct or wrongly."


enterprise are supposed to safeguard the unemployment compensation system from abuse by insurance claims from ineligible workers. Due to the fact that its start in 1935, unemployment compensation was intended to be a safety and security net for workers who shed their tasks through no error of their own, not a cushion because that those who quit without great reason or get fired because that flagrant hurt of rectal rules.


integrity Staffing options made some solid arguments regarding why numerous employees should not be eligible for joblessness compensation at hearings to visit by The Morning Call. At 10 hearings, the workers seeking the benefit didn"t attend. Those failing to show don"t instantly lose your benefits. The hearing proceeds without them and the state referee renders a determination based on the proof presented.


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for example, an employee indigenous Bangor used for joblessness insurance and was denied by a state claims administrator. He appealed the decision, which motivated a February hearing. Top top the morning the the hearing, he asked for a keep going by phone, i m sorry the referee denied. The male did no attend his very own hearing.


integrity Staffing Solutions human being resources manager Jeffrey Benner said the guy worked full time for sooner or later in September 2011 earning $12.50 an hour. He resigned, speak the commute was also far, Benner testified.


A Schnecksville mrs was initially discovered ineligible for unemployment benefits, i beg your pardon she appealed. She did no attend she February hearing.


Benner testified the the woman worked full time as a packer because that 11 job in September 2011. She to be suspended Sept. 30 once she failed to provide proof of education and learning within 14 days as required. The woman initially said she had the forced education, and also later admitted she did not complete high school, Benner testified.


but the insurance claims in conflict were not limited to those that quit without reason or that were fired for great cause. Many people who get sick or injured while working at the Amazon warehouse finish up fighting the agency to collect benefits.


due to the fact that they are temporary employees on temporary assignments, federal regulations that defend most employees from being fired for acquiring sick or hurt don"t apply. Those legislations require 12-months tenure, which many temporary Amazon warehouse workers don"t accomplish because they space hired ~ above contracts that typically range between 1,200 and also 1,500 hours.


Todd Ferryman, 28, the Whitehall Township, started his short-lived assignment in the warehouse in November 2010. In march 2011, he dropped down the measures at his house and also broke his foot. He called Integrity Staffing services to tell them around his injury. They told that they had actually no light-duty positions and also he need to reapply once his foot healed.


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Ferryman reapplied for his task in May and also was said no job-related was available. For this reason he applied for unemployment compensation. Truth Staffing Solutions questioned his eligibility, informing the state that Ferryman quit his job.


If Ferryman had been functioning at the warehouse because that a year, he might have qualified because that Family and also Medical Leave, a federal law that stays clear of companies from automatically firing employees who obtain sick or injured. The law requires employers to hold positions open and continue to administer medical benefits for approximately 12 weeks. Millions of American workers take such leaving annually, but you have to be top top the job for a year or longer and have operated 1,250 hours in the past year to be eligible.


Ferryman had only 5 months" tenure as soon as he broke his foot, for this reason he didn"t qualify because that the commonwealth protection. Instead, the filed for joblessness compensation and also the temporary-staffing firm had a financial attention in staying clear of him from acquiring it.


The unemployment claims administrator reviewing Ferryman"s application uncovered Ferryman ineligible because that benefits, speak he "voluntarily quit due to the fact that he failure to carry out required clinical clearance to go back to work" and "there was poor information listed to indicate whether the claimant had actually a necessitous and also compelling reason for voluntarily leave the job."


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"I was discharged due to being unable to work due to the fact that of a broken foot," Ferryman said in his inquiry for one appeal.


at Ferryman"s unemployment compensation hearing, an verity Staffing options representative explained injured workers room granted as much as 14 job to carry out a "certificate of fitness" indigenous a doctor indicating they have the right to return to work-related without restrictions. Amazon walk not allow temporary employees to return to work with restrictions, that said. Those who can"t provide documentation permitting them to return to work are terminated, Benner said.


"I to be told that i was discharged due to my damaged foot," Ferryman told the referee, including that the staffing firm never told him about a certificate of fitness.


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The referee claimed Ferryman to be eligible for unemployment benefits because he notified his employer around his injury and also gave the employee an opportunity to accommodate the problem.


Ruth Kull, 51, the Reading, used for joblessness compensation services after quitting her short-term Amazon warehouse project for health and wellness reasons. A state cases administrator awarded her benefits, yet Integrity Staffing services lodged an appeal, which motivated a march hearing prior to a referee.


because Kull quit, she had to display she did so for great reason to keep her benefits. The temporary-staffing firm was there to controversy she was ineligible, i m sorry would save the for sure money and aid keep its expenses competitive for clients such together Amazon.


Kull said she started working at the warehouse Dec. 5 together a gift wrapper, a job that required small walking. Top top Dec. 24 she switched come a pack job, which was additionally stationary. While working as a packer, she was available full-time hours. She embraced the brand-new position after gift told the she would certainly be terminated if she didn"t.


on Dec. 28, Kull stated she began working as a picker, a project that requires extensive walking v the three-story warehouse. On march 4, 2011, Kull said she stepped ~ above a bolt and also twisted her appropriate foot. She went to on-site medical personnel, who wrapped she foot and asked if she might return come work.


The warehouse medical personnel — she walk not recognize their credentials — told her to continue working and also report back daily till she had three pain-free days. Kull said she never had three pain free days.


"A few days later, I had actually a many pain," Kull said. She visited the clinical staff and they gave her aspirin.


"I said them the was difficult to walk pain free with every the walking and also going up and also down stairs," Kull said. She asked if she might be assigned to one floor. Managers told her the was "impossible."


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Kull stated she has heel spur in both feet and tendinitis in her ideal foot, problems she"s had for years. She to be able to execute the packing and gift-wrapping jobs, due to the fact that those positions compelled less walking. She couldn"t execute picking, she said.


The joblessness compensation referee inquiry if integrity Staffing Solutions offered Kull another position, such as a packer, after learning about her condition.


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joblessness hearings occur mostly in secret. While the proceedings are open to the public, just the worker and the employee are notified of them. Unlike in polite or criminal courts, over there is no public docket the cases and also no public document an observer deserve to use to recognize if one firm is affiliated in more disputes than another.


using Pennsylvania"s right to recognize law, The Morning call requested documents from the state department of Labor and also Industry related to Integrity Staffing Solutions" unemployment compensation hearings. The state refuse the request, saying such records were confidential.


The staffing firm unsuccessfully make the efforts to stop a Morning contact reporter native attending several hearings.


Fritchman"s to be the first hearing The Morning contact attended. Golbreski objected to the reporter"s presence, speak he had no interest in the matter. The referee permitted the reporter come remain.


as soon as the 3rd Integrity Staffing solutions hearing was around to begin that day, Benner, verity Staffing Solutions" human resources manager, arrived and also told the referee the agency was withdrawing the rest of the appeals for the day.


in ~ a succeeding hearing, Golbreski objected come a Morning call reporter"s presence, speak she just wanted come make certain the former worker realized his name can be in the newspaper if the reporter remained. The worker did not object come a reporter"s presence.


at the start of a February hearing, referee Sandra Bloszinsky announced that Integrity Staffing Solutions" representative Benner would not attend.


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"When that learned Mr. Soper through The Morning contact was here, he made decision not to participate," she said.


George Gonos, a sociology professor in ~ the State college of new York Potsdam who has actually studied the temporary-staffing market for 30 years, stated staffing firms have tendency to it is in secretive around their operations. Lock work hard to job the photo of themselves together matchmakers who bring workers and also companies together, and they understand which one they need to please to make it through — the businesses that hire them, the said.


"They deserve to treat this workers like a disposable commodity, due to the fact that there room so many much more people in line," Gonos said.


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unemployment compensation referees don"t worry immediate rulings after listening to evidence. Instead, they close the hearing and send your decisions in the mail. The decisions room not easily accessible to the public.

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with the standing of her benefits in limbo, Fritchman was worried she would fall behind on her rent and also lose her home. She still had actually her deceased husband"s pension native Bethlehem Steel however needed to complement her revenue to cover she bills.


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