Senators Urge Investigation Into Amazon Over Alleged Discrimination Against Pregnant Warehouse Workers

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  • Six senators are urging the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate Amazon's treatment of pregnant warehouse workers.
  • The lawmakers cited news reports and a previous EEOC complaint filed by an Amazon worker as examples of a "concerning pattern of mistreatment of pregnant employees" at Amazon warehouses.

Six senators sent a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission urging the agency to probe Amazon's treatment of pregnant warehouse employees.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Bob Casey, Jr., D-Pa., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Friday requested the EEOC investigate Amazon's "systemic failure to provide adequate accommodations" for pregnant warehouse workers.

The lawmakers claim Amazon fails to adequately modify job duties for pregnant employees who are subject to physically strenuous work that could threaten their health and safety. They also claim Amazon doesn't allow pregnant workers to take time off without punishment for pregnancy-related medical needs.

Both actions could be in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the lawmakers say.

The letter cites various news reports and a previous EEOC complaint filed by an Oklahoma Amazon employee in 2020 as examples of a "concerning pattern of mistreatment of pregnant employees at Amazon fulfillment centers."

In the 2020 EEOC complaint, the Amazon worker claimed the company denied her requests for a job transfer, penalized her for pregnancy-related absences, and "engaged in unauthorized contact with her doctor in an attempt to change her work restrictions," according to the letter.

Representatives from Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. An EEOC spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the letter.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in April addressed workplace safety concerns in his final letter to shareholders, pledging to make the company "Earth's Best Employer and Earth's Safest Place to Work."

The company has also previously said it's investing billions of dollars in new safety measures and technologies, including adding more than 6,200 employees to its workplace health and safety team.

The letter comes as Amazon faces growing pressure from lawmakers to address concerns around warehouse working conditions.

Earlier this week, California's state Senate passed a landmark bill that would require warehouse employers such as Amazon to disclose productivity quotas to employees and government agencies, and prohibit the use of unsafe quotas that prevent workers from taking breaks. The bill passed a final vote in the state Assembly on Thursday and is now headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk for signing or veto.

In May, Washington state workplace regulators fined Amazon $7,000 for safety violations at a warehouse in Dupont, Washington, the Seattle Times reported. Regulators tied the "very high pace of work" to a rise in employee injuries at the facility, according to the Times.

Amazon also faces increasing scrutiny from its employees. Warehouse workers at an Amazon facility in Alabama raised concerns around safety and inadequate breaks amid a high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful union drive.

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