On May 19, 2021, Wigdor LLP filed five discrimination and retaliation lawsuits on behalf of women who alleged that they were mistreated by primarily white, male managers at Amazon and retaliated against for reporting discrimination. The women range in age from 23 to 64 and worked in various Amazon corporate offices and warehouses around the United States.
Unfortunately, as the lawsuits allege, abusive managers are routinely protected and abetted by Amazon’s top leadership and Human Resources (“HR”) organization by means of retaliation, particularly after complaints are raised.
The cases come as Amazon shareholders are preparing to vote on whether an independent racial equity audit should be conducted at the company. The New York State Common Retirement Fund filed the proposal to help Amazon assess civil rights, equity, diversity and inclusion and how those issues affect Amazon’s business. Amazon is urging shareholders to reject the audit proposal.
Tiffany Gordwin, a Black woman and Senior HR Specialist at Amazon who works from Avondale, AZ, alleges that she was duped into accepting a lower role at the company than the one she applied for and treated like a second-class citizen by the majority of her supervisors. Ms. Gordwin’s Complaint includes data showing racial disparities in terminations and promotions for a group of roughly 13,500 Amazon employees in the U.S. that work at corporate levels, as alleged.
Diana Cuervo is a Latinx woman who worked for Amazon as a warehouse manager in Everett, WA. Ms. Cuervo alleges she was subjected to shocking and racially discriminatory comments made by her white male supervisor, such as “Latins suck,” and “How is a Latin like you working here?” Just weeks after Ms. Cuervo complained about this racial discrimination, and just days after she reported a dangerous gas leak in Amazon’s facility, she was unlawfully terminated, her lawsuit alleges.
Cindy Warner worked at Amazon Web Services (“AWS”) as Global Leader, ProServe Advisory in Irvine, CA. Ms. Warner, a tremendously successful executive and gay woman, applied for a Level 10 corporate role but was told, falsely, that those jobs were reserved for internal candidates, her lawsuit alleges. Despite a highly successful first year at Amazon, the Complaint alleges that she was subjected to horrific verbal abuse and gender discrimination by white male managers, including being called a “bitch,” an “idiot,” and a “nobody” by a hostile male colleague in front of others. She also claims she was prohibited from applying for an L10 role for which she was qualified. Ultimately, Amazon fired her in retaliation for her legally protected complaints of discrimination and just three weeks after Amazon learned of her decision to retain counsel to pursue legal claims, according to her lawsuit.
Emily Sousa, an Asian-American woman, worked as a Level 4 Shift Manager at Amazon’s Harleysville, PA facility and within days was compared to an adult film star by a male manager, her lawsuit alleges. She further claims that she was repeatedly sexually harassed and asked to spend personal time outside of work by another male manager, and was demoted by three levels after months of rebuffing the manager’s advances. Ms. Sousa reported the harassment to HR, but the company conducted a sham investigation and failed to remedy the harassment, according to her legal complaint.
Pearl Thomas, a Black woman, worked in Amazon’s HR organization in Washington State. Ms. Thomas alleges that she encountered the worst abuse and displays of racial discrimination in her life and decades-long career in HR, including being called the “n-word” by her direct supervisor, apparently after he thought she had ended the call. She further alleges that she was placed on a performance improvement plan in retaliation for complaining about this racially hostile work environment, and that she faced further retaliation from her manager who attempted to overwhelm her with emails and assignments.
The lawsuits come on the heels of a high-profile lawsuit filed by Wigdor LLP on behalf of Charlotte Newman, a rising executive at AWS, alleging a pattern of institutional racism in Amazon’s corporate offices.
BREAKING: Wigdor LLP represents five courageous women who today filed individual lawsuits against #Amazon alleging mistreatment and retaliation by primarily white, male managers.
Abusive managers at Amazon are routinely protected by HR, the suits allege. https://t.co/oEDaFAFLH8
— WigdorLaw (@WigdorLaw) May 19, 2021
Statement from Lawrence M. Pearson and Jeanne M. Christensen, Partners at Wigdor LLP:
“Women and employees of color at all levels of Amazon have had their complaints of harassment and discrimination brushed under the rug and met with retaliation for years. Amazon can no longer dismiss abusive behavior and retaliation by white managers as mere anecdotes. These are systemic problems, entrenched deep within the company and perpetuated by a human resources organization that treats employees who raise concerns as the problem. This must be addressed immediately. Until then, we look forward to vigorously litigating our clients’ discrimination and retaliation claims against Amazon.”
Read the full complaints below:
KING 5 News Seattle
May 25, 2021