COVINGTON, Ky. (CN) – A transgender woman and her husband claim in court that they were severely harassed at work, had the brake lines on their car severed, and were forced to resign after Amazon outed her to co-workers.
Allegra Schawe-Lane, a transgender woman, and her husband, Dane Lane, say in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Covington, Ky., federal court that their co-workers at an Amazon shipping facility threatened them with physical violence, brought them pornography and sex toys, and propositioned them for sex after they were told Schawe-Lane was transgender.
The complaint alleges the “coworkers were told Ms. Schawe-Lane is transgender by an Amazon employee who was designated as a ‘coach.’”
The lawsuit details the alleged abuse Schawe-Lane suffered after her co-workers were told she was transgender shortly after being hired in October 2014.
“Amazon management, supervisors, and employees directed discriminatory slurs at her, such as ‘it,’ ‘man,’ ‘sir,’ ‘he/she,’ ‘chick with a dick,’ ‘shemale,’ ‘cross-dresser,’ ‘tranny,’ ‘prostitute,’ ‘tranny prostitute,’ ‘gay,’ [and] ‘Dane’s boyfriend,’” it states.
One co-worker also brought Schawe-Lane pornography and sex toys several times, she says, and “on multiple occasions … looked at Mr. Lane’s crotch and visibly licked his lips in a suggestive fashion while Ms. Schawe-Lane was in close proximity.”
Schawe-Lane claims she reported the incidents to human resources, but they were never investigated.
The aggressive behavior allegedly escalated in 2015, when “a male co-worker yelled ‘You should get fucking fired, faggots!’ while Ms. Schawe-Lane and Mr. Lane walked past him.” (Emphasis in original.)
Schawe-Lane was also harassed in the restroom, according to the complaint, when “a group of women entered the restroom and one loudly exclaimed ‘it’s in here right now;’ another woman responded ‘maybe we should just drag it outside the fucking stall.’” (Emphasis in original.)
Schawe-Lane says her co-workers cut the brake lines on her car in August 2015 while it was in the Amazon parking lot.
She alleges Amazon failed to identify the perpetrator and instead decided to place Schawe-Lane and her husband on administrative leave and transfer them to another facility.
Amazon then allegedly imposed “special rules” on Schawe-Lane and her husband requiring them to report any discrimination on the day it happened under threat of termination.
In addition, the complaint states, “Amazon made improper deductions from Ms.
Schawe-Lane’s paychecks or improperly recorded her hours, resulting in lower pay.”
Schawe-Lane says she was hospitalized several times in 2015 because of medical conditions caused by the harassment and discrimination, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Eventually, in October 2015, “she found the conditions so intolerable that she had no choice but to resign,” she says.
Dane Lane claims Amazon denied his request for paid disability leave after he developed “physical manifestations of extreme stress” brought on by the alleged harassment.
He was also put under heightened scrutiny when he lodged complaints with HR, transferred to less desirable departments, and ultimately forced to resign because of health complications caused by the harassment, according to the lawsuit.
Schawe-Lane and her husband seek punitive damages for claims of a hostile work environment, retaliation, and violations of the Americans with Disability Act and Kentucky Civil Rights Act.
Amazon.com.KYDC LLC is the only defendant in the complaint.
Amazon did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.
Schawe-Lane and her husband are represented by Amanda Walker and Bradley Zoppoth of the Zoppoth Law Firm in Louisville, Ky.