Amazon Hit With Discrimination Complaint Over Reasonable Accommodations
ALBANY, N.Y. — A pregnant woman working for Amazon was injured on the job and forced to take unpaid leave, according to a new complaint filed by the New York State Division of Human Rights.
Gov. Hochul announced this week that the state has filed a discrimination complaint against the online retailer, accusing the company of failing to offer reasonable accommodations to workers who are pregnant and those with disabilities.
“My administration will hold any employer accountable, regardless of how big or small, if they do not treat their workers with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Hochul said in a statement.
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The complaint accuses the company of forcing a pregnant worker to continue lifting heavy items despite granting a reasonable accommodation to avoid lifting packages over 25 pounds.
As a result, the woman suffered an injury on the job. Rather than modify the woman’s workload following the incident, Amazon forced the employee into indefinite unpaid leave, the complaint claims.
Another worker faced similar pushback after requesting a modified work schedule because of a documented disability, the document alleges.
The employee’s condition necessitated a specific sleep schedule, and the worker submitted supporting medical documentation along with the request, according to the complaint.
The worker was swapping shifts with a co-worker without objections from management until an accommodations consultant recommended a modified schedule, the legal papers say.
However, a work site manager allegedly refused to implement the accommodation without an explanation.
A third worker who requested a reduction of work hours due to disability was denied an accommodation, despite an initial approval, the complaint shows.
“Since the 1970s — years before the Americans with Disabilities Act — New York State has prohibited discrimination against pregnant employees in the workplace,” said Melissa Franco, the Human Rights Division’s deputy commissioner for enforcement. “The division will work to ensure that everyone in our state is fully afforded the rights and dignities that the law requires.”
The state is seeking a decision requiring Amazon to cease its allegedly discriminatory conduct and to adopt nondiscriminatory policies and practices regarding the review of requests for reasonable accommodations.
Amazon would also have to train its employees on the provisions of the state Human Rights Law and pay civil fines and penalties.
A representative for the retailer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company, which pulled out of a massive Queens corporate campus after political pushback in 2019, has weathered several labor-related storms recently as workers sought to unionize at a pair of Staten Island facilities.
Earlier this month, workers at one Staten Island warehouse overwhelmingly rejected a union bid, a blow to organizers who successfully unionized a larger facility just weeks before.
The unionization effort was sparked by employees who protested the e-commerce giant’s paltry pandemic-related workplace safety precautions over the past two years.
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