Posted August 19th, 2015.
SANFORD HEISLER IS INVESTIGATING AMAZON.COM FOR POSSIBLE VIOLATIONS OF TITLE VII OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964, THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA), AND THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA)
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NEW YORK, August 19, 2015—Sanford Heisler, LLP today announced an investigation into the employment practices at the world’s largest retailer, Amazon.com. According to recent reporting from The New York Times, Amazon’s employment practices may involve discrimination against women who become pregnant, discrimination against women in promotions, discrimination against employees who are caregivers, and discrimination against employees who take protected medical leave. Discrimination on these bases is illegal, and attorneys at Sanford Heisler, LLP are available to speak with those who believe that they may have witnessed such practices or been victimized by them.
The New York Times reports widespread use of “‘performance improvement plan[s]’ — [allegedly] Amazon code for ‘you’re in danger of being fired’” to punish employees who consider taking leave to recover from life-altering experiences such as miscarriages or cancer. One woman “who had breast cancer was told that she was put on a ‘performance improvement plan’ . . . because ‘difficulties’ in her ‘personal life’ had interfered with fulfilling her work goals,” the Times claims. The article also reports that managers even admit telling other employees that “this is [not] the right place for you” if you have or are considering having a child.
“Amazon’s conduct reported in this article, if true, is outrageous,” said David Sanford, Chairman of Sanford Heisler, LLP.
The article also reports that these practices seem to be having a particularly negative impact on women: “[U]nlike Facebook, Google or Walmart, [Amazon] does not currently have a single woman on its top leadership team.”
Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender as well as discrimination against women who are pregnant, discrimination against people who are caregivers to parents or children, discrimination against people who take medical leave, and discrimination against people with disabilities. Federal law also prohibits retaliation against employees who complain about discrimination. Employees who have suffered such discrimination may be entitled to compensation, including lost wages, damages, reinstatement, and court-ordered changes in working conditions.
“No woman should be put on a performance improvement plan because she takes leave to seek treatment for breast cancer,” said Deborah Marcuse, New York Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler Kimpel. Felicia Medina, San Francisco Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler said, “we have known for a long time that technology companies impose additional and illegal obstacles to the advancement of women. But if the Times’s reports are accurate, then Amazon’s conduct is beyond the pale. Nothing makes this clearer than reports that a male manager asked a woman to leave on a business trip the day after she miscarried twins,” Medina added, referring to the story of one woman discussed in the article.
Sanford Heisler has a track record of representing individuals and classes in high-stakes discrimination cases. The firm is currently pursuing class action cases against industry leaders such as KPMG, Boston Scientific, Merck, and Forest Pharmaceuticals alleging discrimination against women in pay and promotions.
In the largest gender discrimination case to ever go to trial, Sanford Heisler successfully represented a class of 7,000 female sales representatives of Novartis Pharmaceutical Company in their gender pay and promotion and pregnancy discrimination claims. A jury found the company liable and awarded the more than $250 million in damages, the largest verdict ever in the U.S in an employment discrimination case.
Attorneys from Sanford Heisler are interested in speaking with current and former Amazon employees about the company’s employment practices. If you believe that you may have been a victim of illegal gender discrimination or discrimination on the basis of your status as a caregiver or person with disabilities, attorneys from Sanford Heisler are on call to defend your rights. You can reach our offices by calling 646-402-5650 or via our Contact Us page.
“This investigation seeks to ensure that Amazon is complying with federal employment law,” said David Sanford, Chairman of Sanford Heisler. “We do not intend to close this investigation until we are satisfied that the rights of all Amazon employees are protected,” he concluded.