Amazon has been under fire for its working conditions for several years. Now, the Central District Court of California has permitted a pregnancy leave and discrimination class action lawsuit to proceed against the online retail giant, despite its attempt to have the case dismissed.
This is excellent news for anyone who has experienced pregnancy discrimination or protected leave violations while working for Amazon. It demonstrates that California courts remain dedicated to protecting workers’ rights, particularly those of pregnant people. Here’s what you need to know about this case and how you can hold your employer accountable for similar pregnancy discrimination with the help of a skilled attorney.
Background of the Amazon Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit
The putative class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of four plaintiffs, including one Ms. Sattar. These workers were employed at Amazon facilities in central California before 2022 and became pregnant while working for the company. The plaintiffs allege that while working for Amazon, they suffered pregnancy discrimination that impacted their hours, employment, and benefits.
Alleged violations by Amazon include:
- Failing to inform workers of their rights to pregnancy leave under California law
- Refusal to alter shift lengths upon employee request, even with doctors’ notes
- Refusal to grant or extend protected leave as required by state law
- Threats of retaliation for requesting or taking leave
- Demotions, cut hours, and firings related to their pregnancies
The plaintiffs believe they are far from the only employees at Amazon warehouses to experience these issues. As such, they have filed their class action lawsuit to hopefully achieve justice for themselves and others who suffered similar discrimination and retaliation for becoming pregnant.
Amazon attempted to get the case dismissed on technical grounds. However, the Central Circuit Court denied the motion and is permitting the plaintiffs’ claim to continue.
Key Points of Employment Law Relevant to Pregnancy Leave
The class action lawsuit hinges on California’s unique pregnancy leave laws. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) all provide protections for workers who are or may become pregnant. Among these protections include key rights such as:
- The right of eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave to recover from labor or welcome a child under the CFRA.
- The right to up to four months additional protected disability leave for disabling conditions related to pregnancy under the PDLL, including emergency leave for acute conditions.
- The ability to request and receive reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions under the PDLL.
- The freedom from discrimination for pregnancy and related conditions under FEHA.
Crucially, employers cannot retaliate against workers for requesting protected leave. Retaliation includes demoting someone, cutting their shifts, firing them, or otherwise penalizing them for asking for disability or family leave. Furthermore, failing to approve leave or provide reasonable accommodations like reducing a pregnant person’s hours are considered violations and grounds for legal action.
Analysis of Amazon’s Alleged Violations
Ms. Sattar’s experiences demonstrate exactly how many ways Amazon may be violating pregnant workers’ rights at its California warehouses. According to Ms. Sattar’s allegations, her ordeal began when Amazon failed to inform her of her right to any form of parental or pregnancy disability leave (PDL), violating FEHA’s notice requirements.
Ms. Sattar learned about her rights elsewhere. Upon determining that her pregnancy may put her at risk, she submitted a doctor’s note requesting three months of PDL several months in advance, following the PDLL. However, her request was allegedly denied, which appears to be in violation of FEHA and the PDLL.
Later, when Ms. Sattar began experiencing pain related to her pregnancy, her doctor asked Amazon to provide her with the reasonable accommodation of shortening her 10.5-hour shift by at least one hour. This request was also denied.
When Ms. Sattar attempted to stand up for her rights, her manager threatened her employment directly related to her request for leave. Just days later, she was demoted to part-time, causing her to lose her health coverage. This appears to be an upsetting but unfortunately common example of pregnancy discrimination.
Ms. Sattar’s issues are not unique. Her fellow plaintiffs have remarkably similar stories. This mistreatment by Amazon not only violates employees’ rights to fair employment, but also puts its employees’ health at risk.
Possible Implications and Outcomes of the Amazon Case
While the lawsuit has a long way to go, it seriously affects workers. If Amazon is found to have violated California employment rights laws, it could be ordered to pay damages to workers for their lost pay and benefits. Damages in pregnancy discrimination and protected leave cases often reach hundreds of thousands of dollars per plaintiff.
Additionally, this case highlights how important it is for workers to stand up for themselves. If Ms. Sattar and her colleagues had not banded together, it could have been years before Amazon was called to account for its abusive practices. Now, workers may receive justice by pursuing their own claims even if the class action does not succeed.
Standing Up Against Pregnancy Discrimination in California
Despite Amazon’s best efforts, Ms. Sattar’s class action lawsuit will continue. The plaintiffs can now pursue their case and demonstrate how the retail company’s discriminatory behavior has harmed them. If you have experienced pregnancy discrimination or retaliation for requesting protected leave, you can do the same.The first step is to talk to an experienced California pregnancy lawyer at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to defending workers’ rights to fair employment and freedom from discrimination in San Francisco and throughout California. Get in touch to discuss the issues you face and learn more about how we can help you hold your employer accountable for violating your rights.