Five female Amazon employees filed discrimination lawsuits against the company Wednesday, Recode reports. The women worked at vastly different areas of the business, ranging from a warehouse to corporate HR. All say they were retaliated against by white managers after bringing forward complaints of racial discrimination, sexism, or sexual harassment.
One of the plaintiffs, a 64-year-old Black woman named Pearl Thomas, said she was placed on a performance improvement plan after complaining about her boss’s racist remarks. Thomas, who worked in HR, claimed her boss used the “n-word” in reference to her, and told her and another Black colleague “you don’t want to be an angry Black woman.”
Diana Cuervo, a 40-year-old Latina warehouse manager, said she was fired after reporting her white boss for racism. He allegedly made comments like “Latins suck,” and “How is a Latin like you working here?” in front of her, according to Recode.
Three of the women still work at Amazon. Two have left the company. Their cases are all being brought by Wigdor LLP, the law firm representing Charlotte Newman — a Black Amazon manager who is also suing the company for race and gender discrimination.
“Women and employees of color at all levels of Amazon have had their complaints of harassment and discrimination brushed under the rug,” said Wigdor LLP partners Lawrence M. Pearson and Jeanne M. Christensen in a statement to Recode. “Amazon can no longer dismiss abusive behavior and retaliation by white managers as mere anecdotes. These are systemic problems, entrenched deep within the company and perpetuated by a human resources organization that treats employees who raise concerns as a problem.”
The lawsuits follow similar allegations of gender discrimination and bias at companies such as Pinterest and Google. In December, Pinterest settled a lawsuit brought by former COO Françoise Brougher for $22.5 million. Brougher said she was fired after complaining about sexism and unequal pay. Timnit Gebru, a prominent Black AI ethics researcher, was fired from Google in December while writing a paper about the dangers of large language models. She has publicly accused the company of racism, gaslighting, and retaliation.
On May 26th, Amazon shareholders will vote on a proposal from the New York State Common Retirement Fund calling for an independent audit into how the company’s civil rights, equity, and diversity and inclusion policies impact the business.
In a statement emailed to The Verge, an Amazon spokesperson denied any claims of wrongdoing. “We are conducting thorough investigations for each of these unrelated cases, as we do with any reported incidents, and we have found no evidence to support the allegations,” they said. “We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment in any form, and employees are encouraged to raise concerns to any member of management or through an anonymous ethics hotline with no risk of retaliation.”
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