Amazon discriminates against its pregnant and disabled employees by failing to provide reasonable accommodations under the state’s Human Rights Law, the state of New York alleged in court documents Wednesday.
In an administrative complaint sent to the tech giant, the New York State Division of Human Rights outlines multiple accounts of pregnant workers whose requests for job modifications or scheduling were ignored.
In one case pointed out by the state, a pregnant woman asked not to have to lift packages heavier than 25 pounds. Her request was denied and she was subsequently injured while lifting a heavy package, forcing her to take indefinite unpaid leave. In other cases, Amazon turned down requests from disabled workers to modify hours and schedules that had been requested by medical professionals.
Amazon, a company worth $1.6 billion, would only be fined up to $125,000 if a subsequent investigation and administrative hearing process determines it violated New York State Human Rights Law. But ultimately, the company could be forced to change its policies for pregnant workers through a possible liquidation process.
“My administration will hold any employer, no matter how large or small, accountable if they fail to treat their workers with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “Working men and women are the backbone of New York and we will continue to oppose any injustice they face.”
But Seth Goldstein, a lawyer for the Amazon Workers Union, said he doubted a fine would cause the company to change course. It is asking the state of New York to take back the millions in tax breaks it gave Amazon through the Excelsior Jobs Program and other subsidies, estimated to be more than $389 million, according to the nonprofit Good Jobs First. , a national economic policy group.
“While $100,000 for a small employer can be expensive, for Amazon it’s pennies,” Goldstein said. “We need a substantial sanction against them.”