- 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 to one of the women — Beverly Rosales, a worker in Amazon’s Golden State Fulfilment Centre in California — who filed her suit in January. The rest either did not respond to CNET’s request for comment or didn’t speak to the reporter for fear it would violate their settlements with Amazon.
Rosales told CNET that the major problem which led to her termination was her need for more frequent bathroom breaks. Rosales said she was told by her manager 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 of allotted breaks when workers aren’t carrying out their duties.
Read more: Amazon warehouse employees speak out about the “brutal” reality of working during the holidays, when 60-hour weeks are mandatory and ambulance calls are common
“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… After that, I would just hold it towards the end of the day because I didn’t want to get fired,” Rosales said. Rosales claims 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 said in a statement to CNET. “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 claimed that 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 flu while pregnant, and while at the hospital a doctor said 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.
Christy Hoffman, the general secretary of workers union UNI Global Union, told Business Insider: “This apparent discrimination against pregnant women is a particularly disturbing part of an overall problem at Amazon.
“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 organizing. They want to be treated with dignity, not like robots.”
Read CNET’s full report here.
SEE ALSO: Missing wages, grueling shifts, and bottles of urine: The disturbing accounts of Amazon delivery drivers may reveal the true human cost of ‘free’ shipping
Join the conversation about this story »
NOW WATCH: Facial recognition is almost perfectly accurate — here’s why that could be a problem