Suit: Amazon Discriminated Against Pregnant Trans Employee

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday October 8, 2020

An Amazon fulfillment center processes orders in Aurora, Colorado, May 3, 2018
An Amazon fulfillment center processes orders in Aurora, Colorado, May 3, 2018  (Source:AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A suit that's now in federal court alleges that a pregnant transgender worker at an Amazon warehouse in Princeton, New Jersey, faced discrimination on the job, NBC News reports.

The suit, brought by Shaun Simmons, claims that after Simmons informed his supervisor, Mike Menno, that he was pregnant, Menno told another supervisor, Tyler Houpt, in turn. Soon, Simmons' pregnancy was common knowledge at the fulfillment center where Simmons was employed. The suit alleges that Simmons began to suffer disparaging comments from co-workers as well as unwarranted job-related criticism and demotion from the supervisors.

Though Simmons went to Human Resources about the treatment he faced, the suit says that the response from HR was to put him on paid leave, after which he was reassigned to heavy physical work that was inappropriate for his medical condition.

The suit alleges "harassment based on gender and on pregnancy" in violation of New Jersey state law, NBC reports. Simmons "is also alleging pregnancy discrimination, failure to accommodate and workplace retaliation," the article adds.

"Simmons' case is rare in that it incorporates claims of both anti-transgender bias and pregnancy discrimination," the story notes.

The article pointed out that Amazon consistently receives "perfect" scores form the Human Rights Campaign for its corporate culture and policies with respect to LGBTQ workers; even so, the story said, the company faced legal action from "a transgender woman and her husband, who claimed they suffered 'cruel and persistent' harassment and threats of violence while working at an Amazon facility in Kentucky," That case was resolved out of court last year.

An Amazon spokesperson told business news site Insider.com that "Amazon does not tolerate discriminatory harassment of any kind.

"We have been, and continue to be, committed to accommodating all employees to perform their duties in a safe and inclusive workplace," the spokesperson added.

Simmons' suit seeks his re-hiring, as well as back pay, benefits, and "punitive damages," NBC reported.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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