New York accuses Amazon of discriminating against pregnant, disabled workers

New York state’s human rights watchdog filed a complaint against Amazon on Wednesday, accusing the e-commerce giant of discriminating against pregnant and disabled workers.

“My administration will hold any employer accountable, regardless of how big or small, if they do not treat their workers with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in statement. 

“New York has the strongest worker protections in the nation and was one of the first to have protections for workers who are pregnant and those with disabilities,” she added.

The complaint alleges that Amazon, which employs nearly 40,000 New Yorkers, has not reasonably accommodated pregnant or disabled workers who may need their job duties to be modified.

It also claims that Amazon accommodations policy forces some disabled employees to take unpaid medical leave even when in-house staffers determine they could do their jobs with some accommodations.

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said that “Ensuring all our employees, including those with disabilities and expectant mothers, feel safe and supported is extremely important” to the company.

“We’re surprised by the governor’s announcement this morning because we’ve been cooperating and working closely with her investigator on this matter and had no indication a complaint was coming,” she added. “Since we haven’t received the complaint ourselves yet, we’re not in a position to comment further.”

In one case, the New York State Division of Human Rights alleges that a pregnant worker was approved for an accommodation to not have to lift packages over 25 pounds. A worksite manager allegedly ignored that accommodation and the worker suffered an injury while working with heavy packages.

The worker was subsequently denied further accommodations and forced to take indefinite paid leave, the complaint alleges.

Updated at 4:28 p.m.

Tags Kathy Hochul Kathy Hochul New York

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