Amazon Sued for Discriminating Against Transgender Pregnant Man
Teasing and bullying can often seem like it’s a “macho” thing to do. As a boss or supervisor, you may feel like cracking down on teasing in the workplace makes you seem weak, or doesn’t make you feel like “one of the guys.” But in fact, not only is teasing or bullying (or allowing it to happen under your watch, even if you’re not the one doing the actual bullying) immoral and reprehensible, it can also get you in trouble with the law, as online retail giant Amazon is fining out the hard way.
Man Sues for Discrimination
The case involves a man who was denied a promotion at Amazon—a good lesson that discrimination doesn’t just mean firing, but rather can mean any negative workplace consequence, such as a bad evaluation, or being denied a promotion or being denied other workplace benefits afforded to other workers.
The man was transgender. In 2019, he reported to his supervisor that he was pregnant. According to the lawsuit, other workers in the warehouse found out about the pregnancy. Shortly afterwards, the man started to be harassed by his other co-workers.
Not only did Amazon employees allow the teasing to continue, according to the lawsuit, but supervisors began criticizing the man’s work performance, in an attempt to see if they could have him demoted. The man did what he was supposed to do in that situation: he continued to make his complaints up the corporate chain of command, this time to human resources.
Rather than address the problem, Amazon human resources apparently put him on paid leave.
But that wasn’t all. The lawsuit also said that once he returned from paid leave, he was not given his old position back. Rather, he was put in a position where he would have to lift enormous bags of dog food and items of similar size and weight.
The man complained again, and asked for his job duties to be changed, as it was difficult for him to do given the pregnancy. His request for a reasonable accommodation was denied. The lawsuit also says that Amazon has a history of discriminating against pregnant or disabled workers. There have been reports and lawsuits of Amazon firing women after they revealed their pregnancy.
Be Aware of Protected Classes
There are a number of lessons for businesses in this lawsuit, no matter how it plays out. First, recently the United States Supreme Court did determine that LGBTQ individuals are protected under the same anti-discrimination laws that protect against gender discrimination.
Additionally, pregnancy has long been protected by federal law; any discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is prohibited. Pregnant women must be given accommodations for the physical difficulties that pregnancy can cause.
Call Pike & Lustig, LLP at 561-291-8298. Our West Palm Beach employment law attorneys try cases for both employers and employees, and can protect your business and advise how your company can stay out of legal trouble.