New York State Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday announced lawsuits against Amazon for discriminating against pregnant employees and employees with disabilities.
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The legal procedure was launched by the state agency in charge of respect for civil rights (Division of Human Rights), which accuses the online sales giant of not offering suitable measures for these employees.
She says team leaders frequently ignore recommendations made by Amazon's "fit consultants" who are supposed to facilitate workplace accommodations.
The group founded by Jeff Bezos employs more than 39,000 people in New York State and operates 23 work sites there.
The agency also believes that pregnant employees and those with disabilities are forced to take unpaid sick leave even though accommodations could avoid such situations.
The complaint cites the example of a pregnant employee forced by her supervisor to lift packages weighing more than 11 kilos and injured herself on the job, prompting her to stop working "for an indefinite period" without being paid.
In another case, an employee who had to follow a specific sleep pattern, benefiting from medical advice on this subject, was not authorized to swap working hours with one of his colleagues.
“My administration will hold any employer, regardless of size, accountable if they fail to treat their employees with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Ms. Hochul said in a statement.
The agency demands that Amazon reform its practices, train its employees to comply with New York law and pay compensation to the state.
Working conditions in Amazon's warehouses, where a third of the group's employees work, have been the subject of complaints and criticism in the past in the United States and around the world.
According to a report by the Strategic organizing center (SOC) published in April, workers in Amazon's logistics centers suffered more than 34,000 "serious injuries" in the workplace in 2021, a rate twice as high as that of American warehouses not belonging to the group in Seattle (Washington).
This is nearly half of the work accidents recorded in the country on this type of site.
Contacted by AFP, Amazon did not react immediately.
The online sales giant must face the emergence of a wage movement in this same state, with the creation of the first union within the company in the United States in early April in a warehouse in New York City .