Federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees because of a number of protected characteristics, including pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act mandates that any decisions related to hiring, firing, promotion or demotion, transfer, salary, or benefits cannot be based on an employee’s pregnancy status. Online retailer Amazon has recently come under fire for alleged pregnancy discrimination, facing seven lawsuits in the past eight years.
Amazon is a vast company of more than 600,000 employees that has built its success on productivity. With its guarantee of two-day shipping for Prime customers – recently reduced to one day – the company’s fulfillment centers operate at a fast pace and demand that workers reach high packing quotas. Critics of the company say that this productivity often comes at the expense of employees’ well-being.
Pregnant Workers Penalized for Reduced Productivity
Workers in Amazon’s fulfillment centers often work 10-hour days, most of which is spent on their feet; and they are frequently moving heavy objects. They are typically allotted 30 minutes each shift for non-work tasks, such as going to the restroom. Any additional time could affect an employee’s rate, a metric used to measure their productivity. According to the lawsuits, pregnant employees, who need some accommodations for their condition, were disproportionately affected by these policies.
In the most recent case, an employee at Amazon’s Golden State Fulfillment Center in California was fired two months after informing management that she was pregnant. Her lawsuit alleges that, during those two months, her supervisors chastised her for taking too many bathroom breaks and reducing her productivity. Another employee filed a lawsuit after requesting not to climb ladders or lift boxes over 20 pounds, at the advice of her doctor. Her managers put her on unpaid leave for over a month while they claimed they were trying to accommodate her requests; when she returned, no accommodations had been made, and she was terminated a month later. Two others were fired after taking sick days during their pregnancies.
Amazon released a statement refuting the allegations in the lawsuits, saying that they would not terminate an employee due to pregnancy. The company claims that they accommodate work restrictions for pregnant employees based on their individual needs, and that they do not keep tabs on employees’ bathroom breaks. The statements made in the lawsuits tell a very different story, in which managers stood waiting for employees to return from breaks and rejected doctors’ notes requesting accommodation. Six of the seven lawsuits were settled out of court.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Advocate for the Rights of Pregnant Workers
Employers are required by law to make reasonable accommodations for workers’ medical conditions, including pregnancy. If you have been subjected to pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, call the law offices of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case and work to ensure that your rights are protected. With offices located in Center City, Philadelphia, we represent victims of workplace discrimination throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to discuss your case with a Philadelphia employment lawyer.