WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Jarrell Dillard reports, “Six U.S. senators are calling on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate allegations that Amazon.com Inc. fails to make adequate provisions for pregnant employees at its warehouses.”
In a letter to the commission, Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand, Bob Casey, Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren and Independent Bernie Sanders cite “what appears to be a concerning pattern of mistreatment of pregnant employees at Amazon fulfillment centers” that may be illegal.
They asked the commission to examine allegations that Amazon has failed to shield pregnant workers from physically strenuous tasks that may threaten their health and claims the company has punished employees for pregnancy-related medical absences. The practices may violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the senators said.
“Between 2015 and 2019, former Amazon employees filed at least seven lawsuits alleging that Amazon wrongfully terminated them during their pregnancies and failed to accommodate rudimentary requests such as more frequent bathroom breaks and fewer continuous hours on their feet,” the senators wrote in a letter published Friday.
“While Amazon settled several of these suits outside of court, a repeated pattern of publicly-reported pregnancy discrimination and pregnancy-related disability discrimination complaints has emerged at Amazon fulfillment centers as a product of the strenuous demands of the fulfillment center model.”
Kelly Nantel, an Amazon representative, said in a statement that “we work hard to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone. While we know we’re not perfect, the anecdotes mentioned in this letter aren’t accurate.”
The senators cited two cases in which employees complained about their treatment at Amazon facilities while pregnant.
Michelle Posey, an Amazon employee in Oklahoma City, filed an EEOC complaint last year alleging denied requests to transfer to a different position during her pregnancy, punishment for pregnancy-related absences and unauthorized contact with her doctor.
Patty Hernandez, a former Amazon employee in California, alleged in July that she was denied lighter duties during her pregnancy when she submitted a request along with a doctors note.
Nantel said that Hernandez never responded to company requests to discuss accommodations and resigned. Nantel said that Amazon made several arrangements for Posey, including approved medical leave, and that “we strongly dispute the allegations that she was discriminated against in any way.”
The senators said records show that Amazon routinely places injured workers unable to perform their regular job functions on light duty. In light of that treatment, “Amazon is obliged to provide equivalent modifications to similarly impaired pregnant employees who request them,” the senators said.
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