Amazon employee claims he was passed up for promotions and unable to wear his glasses to work.
Denard Norton, a Black Amazon warehouse employee, has filed a lawsuit alleging he was “passed up for a promotion and his immediate supervisors at the East Windsor facility where he worked used a racist remark to describe him,” according to court documents. Norton filed the suit against Amazon and his white supervisors, David Fritz and Jonathan Biggs, last month.
The lawsuit contends Zouhair Bennani, a co-worker of Norton’s of Middle Eastern descent, was promoted to a manager position “even after he was formally reported to corporate for saying the n-word around Norton.” Norton said he tried reporting the issue to Amazon’s ethics hotline, but of the more than “30 complaints he filed, 22 were deleted from Amazon’s employee portal.”
The lawsuit includes a dozen complaints made this year, including two complaints filed in August concerning racial discrimination. Days later, he overheard Bennani say “All these n—— are the same” and filed another complaint.
Norton claimed Biggs “denied him vacation time the following month without explanation even though he followed the correct procedure to request time off.” In the beginning of October, “Norton submitted another complaint claiming he overheard Biggs call him the n-word.”
As cited in the lawsuit, “Mr. Norton’s concerns began in February, when he suffered an injury and reported it to a supervisor whose refusal to report what had happened for several hours led to treatment being delayed. In the last two months he has repeatedly been subjected to the use of racial epithets by two of his supervisors, as well as denial of promotions in favor of white candidates and denial of vacation requests, both of which he has interpreted as retaliation for his complaints to the company about his harassment…In addition to citing a hostile work environment due to race and a failure to provide accommodation due to a disability. Mr. Norton was also retaliated against for having complained about the treatment that he has consistently faced since the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. He has worked at the fulfillment facility for over three years, but his most concerning struggles in the workplace have only been occurring over the last several months.”
As part of the filing, the Amazon employee is claiming disability discrimination after he was “told in May he could not wear tinted glasses he prescribed by his doctor for glaucoma.” Fritz, told him to “take them off or go home,” according to the lawsuit, so Norton “worked without the glasses.” Within a few days, Norton produced a doctor’s note indicating he had to wear them, but Fritz still refused to let him.
“Weeks later, Norton’s manager allowed him to wear the glasses after he filed another ethics complaint about the situation,” the lawsuit reads. “Norton suffered headaches, anxiety, blurred vision, nausea, eye watering and pain during the weeks he wasn’t allowed to wear his glasses.”
The Amazon employee is suing for damages, including for emotional distress, personal injury, back pay and reinstatement.