New York’s Division of Human Rights filed a complaint against Amazon over allegations of pregnancy discrimination.
A complaint alleging pregnancy discrimination has been filed against Amazon by the state of New York’s Division of Human Rights. According to the complaint, the company “forces workers who are pregnant and workers with disabilities to take unpaid leave instead of making accommodations for them that would allow them to continue working.” If true, the company would be in violation of state and federal law.
Under the state’s Human Rights Law, companies are required to “make changes to work schedules and job functions when workers request them because of a pregnancy or a disability.” Additionally, the law “gives the state the power to investigate and then prosecute companies that don’t abide by the law’s requirements.”
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), a federal law, “forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment,” according to the EEOC.
What happened, exactly? For starters, during an investigation, the state claims it learned that one of Amazon’s ‘accommodation consultants’ “proscribed appropriate modifications for a pregnant worker, but the worksite manager refused to follow those recommendations.” As a result, the pregnant worker was injured and “forced onto unpaid leave.”
Morgan Rubin is a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General James. When commenting on the complaint, she said:
“Throughout the pandemic, Amazon has failed to provide a safe working environment for New Yorkers…Attorney General Letitia James remains committed to protecting Amazon workers, and all workers, from unfair treatment.”
In response to the allegations and the complaint filed by the state’s Division of Human Rights, Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said:
“We’re surprised by the governor’s announcement this morning because we’ve been cooperating and working closely with her investigator on this matter and had no indication a complaint was coming. Since we haven’t received the complaint ourselves yet, we’re not in a position to comment further.”
At the moment, the state of New York, in filing the discrimination complaint, is demanding that Amazon set “new standards for reviewing accommodations requests, train employees on the state’s Human Rights Law, and pay fines.”
The complaint and discrimination allegations come amidst news that the serious injury rate at Amazon’s warehouse is almost double what Walmart’s rate is. To make matters worse, the company’s serious injury rate is more than double the national average for warehouse work, according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To cut down on serious injuries, many states have begun to propose bills aimed at curbing productivity expectations that are often blamed for injuries.