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Amazon accused of religious discrimination in federal complaint

Allegedly poor working conditions at Amazon warehouses and distribution centers in California and around the country have been a thorny public relations problem for the online retail giant, and a federal complaint filed on May 8 is likely to lead to yet more bad press for the company. The complaint was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission by the nonprofit group Muslim Advocacy on behalf of three unnamed women of Somali descent who work at an Amazon facility in Minnesota.

The complaint alleges that Amazon rewarded white employees with promotions and more attractive assignments while black Muslim workers from Somalia and East Africa were denied these opportunities. The women also allege that they were discouraged from practicing their faith at work and feared reprimand if they even spent a few minutes praying. When workers protested what they saw as unfair working conditions on Dec. 14, Amazon allegedly retaliated by assigning the protestors more demanding and unpleasant tasks to perform. The workers say that they were also issued written warnings following the protest.

Amazon denies the allegations and claims that all of its workers are entitled to take paid prayer breaks of 20 minutes or less and can request longer unpaid prayer breaks. A company representative said that religious diversity is taken seriously by the online retailer, meetings were held with Muslim workers and diversity training was made available to all employees before the start of Ramadan on May 5.

Attorneys with labor and employment law experience may seek to resolve disputes when employees believe they have been discriminated against. Attorneys may push for swift settlements to not only spare workers who have been treated unfairly from protracted and public legal battles but also to allow employers to address discriminatory policies and practices.

Source: Gizmodo, Three Muslim Amazon Workers Allege They Were Unfairly Punished for Raising Workplace Discrimination Concerns, Catie Keck, May 8, 2019

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