Amazon has reportedly been sued for being racial discriminatory by its business development head at Amazon Web Services, Charlotte Newman. According to Reuters, Newman claimed that Amazon has a “systemic pattern of insurmountable discrimination", where Black people are hired for lower positions and promoted slower than white workers.
Reuters cited Newman who said Amazon held back her promotion by two and a half years. This was done by hiring her for a junior role that she was overqualified for. Seeking compensatory and punitive damages, Newman added that she was a victim of workplace harassment. According to her, a male supervisor used racial topes by labelling her as "aggressive" and "too direct", while a separate male co-worker sexually harassed her. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Amazon for a statement.
Amazon's accusation of practising systemic racism comes as the company denounces the very act publicly. Last year in June, the eCommerce company showed its support to the Black Lives Matter movement. It donated a total of US$10 million to organisations that work to improve the lives of Black and African Americans. According to a press release, recipients of the donations were selected with the help of Amazon's Black Employee Network, and include groups focused on combating systemic racism through the legal system, as well as those dedicated to expanding educational and economic opportunities for Black communities. In addition to the US$10 million, Amazon also said its employees from 33 countries have banded together donated US$8.5 million through the company’s campaign to match donations and support organisations focused on combating systemic racism. With the matched donations, Amazon said it will be donating an additional US$17 million to the cause.
"Black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with our Black employees, customers, and partners, and are committed to helping build a country and a world where everyone can live with dignity and free from fear," Amazon said in its press release.
Besides its sizable donations, Amazon also showed support towards the cause through its social media. In a tweet posted, the company said: "The inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people in our country must stop. Together we stand in solidarity with the Black community — our employees, customers, and partners — in the fight against systematic racism and injustice." This was in response to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck despite his cries of help.
Earlier last year, Amazon made headlines for allegedly mistreating its workers in its warehouses. According to The Guardian, 600 workers at the Amazon warehouse signed a petition to its management calling on Amazon to improve their working conditions. The petition highlights that there are reports of high injury rates at Amazon's facility, which were found to be three times the national average for warehouses. This was based on the company’s injury reports to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The petition reportedly called on Amazon to consolidate its workers’ two 15-minute breaks into a 30-minute one, as it can take up to 15 minutes just to walk to and from the warehouse break room. Amazon's workers have also asked the company to provide more reliable public transit services to the warehouse.
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