Five women who have worked in various roles at Amazon are suing the company, citing racial and gender discrimination.
In separate suits filed Wednesday, the diverse group of women, who worked either corporate positions or warehouse management and range in age from 23 to 64, each allege they faced retaliation by their white managers for complaining about the sexual harassment and discrimination they faced.
Two of the women are Black, and the others are white, Latina and Asian American. They are being represented by Wigdor LLP, the New York firm that’s also representing Charlotte Newman, a senior-level manager at Amazon who sued the tech giant and two executives over alleged race and gender discrimination, as well as pay inequity in March.
In a statement, the women’s lawyers, Lawrence M. Pearson and Jeanne M. Christensen of Wigdor, said Wednesday that women and employees of color at all levels at Amazon have long had their complaints brushed under the rug.
“Amazon can no longer dismiss abusive behavior and retaliation by white managers as mere anecdotes,” the lawyers said. “These are systemic problems, entrenched deep within the company and perpetuated by a human resources organization that treats employees who raise concerns as a problem.”.
In an emailed statement, Amazon said: “We are conducting thorough investigations for each of these unrelated cases, as we do with any reported incidents, and we have found no evidence to support the allegations. Amazon works hard to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment in any form, and employees are encouraged to raise concerns to any member of management or through an anonymous ethics hotline with no risk of retaliation.”.
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According to one of the suits, Pearl Thomas, 64, a Black Human Resources Partner in Washington state, alleged that her white male supervisor in Amazon Web Services HR called Thomas the “n-word” after he apparently thought she had hung up on a video call in March.
Thomas also claimed that in other meetings, she and another Black female employee were told by an Amazon general manager that “You don’t want to be an angry Black woman.”.
In another lawsuit, Diana Cuervo, 40, a Latina warehouse manager, said her white male supervisor repeatedly made racist comments to her.
The supervisor allegedly said, “Latins suck,” “How is a Latin like you working here?” And, “You are a Latina woman, I need to be careful every time I talk to you.”.
Cuervo further alleged that she was fired weeks after reporting the supervisor’s alleged harassment to human resources, a few days after she reported a gas leak at her Amazon facility despite her boss’s alleged attempt to downplay the situation and demand she keep quiet.
A third woman, Cindy Warner, 59, who was a Global Leader at Amazon Web Services’ ProServe Advisory in Irvine, California, alleged in her suit that despite a successful first year at Amazon, she was subjected to verbal and gender discrimination by white male managers, including being called a “bitch,” and “idiot,” and a “nobody.”.
Warner, who is gay and white, alleged in her suit that she was prohibited from applying for a higher position and fired in retaliation for complaining about being discriminated against, and apparently just three weeks after Amazon learned she decided to get a lawyer to fight her claims.
A fourth woman, Tiffany Gordwin, 38, a senior human resources specialist in Avondale, Arizona, who is Black, alleged in her suit she was treated like a second-class citizen by the majority of her white supervisors and passed over for numerous promotions in favor of her white male peers.
Gordwin’s suit also said she was accused of speaking in “aggressive” tones as she allegedly saw younger and less qualified white men land higher roles and was retaliated against for complaining about racial bias by her white supervisor.
A fifth woman, Emily Sousa, 23, a shift manager at Amazon’s facility in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, alleged in her lawsuit that she was repeatedly sexually and racially harassed by another male manager.
Sousa, who is Asian American, said the manager would initiate lengthy phone calls with her and attempt to discuss her personal life, and ask her to spend time together outside work. After she rejected his advances for a few months, she was demoted by three levels in retaliation and sent to work temporarily at a facility in New Jersey, her suit alleged. She also claimed Amazon refused to take any action against the manager.