- Amazon has faced a series of wrongful-termination lawsuits from pregnant workers, CNET reports.
- CNET reviewed seven lawsuits filed over the past four years by pregnant Amazon workers.
- One of the workers, based in California, said her pregnancy became a problem because it meant she had to take more frequent bathroom breaks.
- Amazon said it was “absolutely not true” that it would “fire any employee for being pregnant.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amazon has been hit with at least seven wrongful-termination lawsuits from pregnant warehouse workers over the past four years, CNET reports.
CNET reviewed all seven lawsuits and spoke with one of the women – Beverly Rosales, a worker in Amazon’s Golden State Fulfillment Center in California – who filed her suit in January. The rest either did not respond to CNET’s request for comment or didn’t speak with the reporter for fear it would violate settlements they had reached with Amazon.
Rosales told CNET the major problem that led to her termination was her need for more frequent bathroom breaks. Rosales said her manager had told her it would be “against the rules” for her to use the bathroom more, as this would mean more than her allotted “time off task,” i.e., time outside allotted breaks when workers aren’t carrying out their duties.
“When I had to go to the restroom, she literally stayed in that spot and waited for me to come back so she could talk to me about it,” Rosales told CNET. “After that, I would just hold it towards the end of the day because I didn’t want to get fired.” Rosales said that when she was fired, Amazon said she had been taking too much time off.
“It is absolutely not true that Amazon would fire any employee for being pregnant; we are an equal-opportunity employer,” an Amazon spokeswoman told CNET in a statement. “We work with our employees to accommodate their medical needs including pregnancy-related needs. We also support new parents by offering various maternity and parental-leave benefits.”
Draconian monitoring of workers’ bathroom breaks has been a recurring theme for Amazon. An undercover journalist has said workers in his warehouse “peed in bottles” out of fear that bathroom breaks would affect their productivity targets. Former and current drivers of Amazon-affiliated courier companies also told Business Insider they found bottles of urine left by other drivers.
Bathroom breaks weren’t the only problem named in the various lawsuits. One worker contracted the flu while pregnant, and a doctor told her there were difficulties detecting the baby’s heartbeat, so she was advised to take three days off. The lawsuit alleges that in response a human-resources manager said Amazon “does not accept doctor’s notes” and the worker in question was fired four days later.
Amazon was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.
“This apparent discrimination against pregnant women is a particularly disturbing part of an overall problem at Amazon,” Christy Hoffman, the general-secretary of the union UNI Global Union, told Business Insider.
“In country after country, the company seems to care more about production numbers than the health, safety, and humanity of employees. These horror stories show why Amazon workers around the world are organising. They want to be treated with dignity, not like robots.”
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