Amazon Accused Of ‘Systemic’ Racism In Corporate Offices In A Lawsuit By A Manager

A case was filed against the largest online retailer of the world Amazon.com Inc by a manager of the company over discrimination. 

In the litigation, the manager has alleged that the company hires Black people for lower positions while also promoting them more slowly compared to white workers. The manager also alleged that she was also subjected to harassment.

Despite the promise of the company to address the issue of racism and statements of solidarity from Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, the company suffers from a “systemic pattern of insurmountable discrimination,” alleged the complainer Charlotte Newman in the lawsuit. Newman is a black woman and posted as a business development head at Amazon Web Services.

The claims made in the law suit are being investigated by the company, said the Seattle-based Amazon. The company reiterated that it attempts to achieve an equitable culture and there is no tolerance for discrimination,

“These allegations do not reflect those efforts or our values,” the company said.

The complaint was filed in Washington, D.C., federal court.

The administration at Amazon had intentionally delayed her promotion to senior manager by two and half years by hiring her in 2017 at a more junior role for which her qualifications were much higher, said Newman, who is a Harvard Business School graduate and a former adviser to US Senator Cory Booker. Newman alleged that this hiring at a lower role was described as a “de-leveling” that brings down the chances of being awarded company stock.

In the case, the woman also alleged that she faced racial tropes from a male supervisor who called her “aggressive,” “too direct” and “just scary” while another male co-worker was accused of sexually harassing her who had even pulled on her braids while saying, “You can leave this behind.”

Both these men have also been named as defendants in the lawsuit.  The supervisor was required to undergo training while the co-worker was terminated, according to the lawsuit.

Newman has approached the court for getting compensatory and punitive damages. Douglas Wigdor, who also the lawyer of the women who sued the former movie producer Harvey Weinstein and Fox News over accusations of harassment or discrimination, is her lawyer.

There were enough signals from Amazon to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The keynote address at a Black Employee Network entrepreneurship conference was delivered by the company’s cloud computing chief Andy Jassy in September. Jassy is slated to become the next chief of the company after Bezos.

Accusations of racial disparities in promotions and performance reviews at Amazon were levelled in a report last week published by the news site Recode. There are also lawsuits against Amazon in which it has been claimed that the company mistreated workers in its efforts to handle the novel coronavirus pandemic at its facilities.

(Adapted from Reuters.com)

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