Amazon Accused Of Systemic Discrimination In Lawsuit

Amazon is facing fresh legal troubles after a black female executive at Amazon Web Services filed a discrimination lawsuit against it on Monday.

The lawsuit was filed in a Washington DC federal court by Charlotte Newman, a business development head at AWS, Reuters reported.

Newman alleges that Amazon hires black people for lower positions and promotes them more slowly than white workers. Newman also alleges she was subjected to harassment.

Discrimination lawsuit

Her complaint alleges that Amazon suffers from a “systemic pattern of insurmountable discrimination,” despite its pledge to fight racism and statements of solidarity from CEO Jeff Bezos.

Seattle-based Amazon was quoted by Reuters as saying it was investigating the claims. It said it strives for an equitable culture and has no tolerance for discrimination:

“These allegations do not reflect those efforts or our values,” a company spokesperson reportedly said.

Newman is reportedly a Harvard Business School graduate and former adviser to Democrat US Senator Cory Booker.

She alleges that Amazon delayed by 2-1/2 years her rise to senior manager by hiring her in 2017 for a more junior role for which she was overqualified – a “de-leveling” that reduces awards of company stock.

According to Reuters, Newman also accused a male supervisor of using racial tropes by calling her “aggressive,” “too direct” and “just scary,” and another male co-worker of sexually harassing her and once pulling on her braids while saying, “You can leave this behind.”

Both men were also named as defendants, and according to the lawsuit the supervisor was required to undergo training while the co-worker was reportedly terminated.

Newman is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

And she has hired a notable lawyer, namely Douglas Wigdor, who also reis best known for representing women suing the former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and Fox News over alleged harassment or discrimination.

Staff safety

It should be remembered that Amazon is already facing lawsuits over allegations it mistreated staff in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic at its facilities.

Last month New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, filed a lawsuit against Amazon alleging that that Amazon during the pandemic carried out ‘disregard for health and safety requirements’ and retaliation against employees who raised alarms

In December California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also petitioned a court to force the e-commerce giant to comply with outstanding subpoenas over a state investigation.

It should be noted that Amazon has already successfully fended off allegations over the alleged lack of Covid-19 protections.

In early November a staff lawsuit against Amazon over its alleged lack of Coronavirus protection for warehouse workers at the Staten Island facility was dismissed by a US District Judge in New York.

Pandemic response

There is no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in a boom for Amazon’s business, with many households around the world forced into lockdowns.

But that came at a price, despite Amazon’s protection measures.

For example, Amazon built its own Coronavirus testing labs to monitor the health of its staff back in April 2020, when the pandemic was raging around the world.

Yet despite this, last October the firm revealed that nearly 20,000 staff had been infected by Covid-19, despite undertaking a large number of steps to protect its workforce during the pandemic.

This included Amazon taking the temperature of staff upon their arrival at work and spraying disinfectant on work stations.

Yet criticism persisted, particularly about cleanliness in warehouses, and working conditions.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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