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Woman claims Amazon fired her after stroke at work

The former warehouse worker claims nameless "accommodation consultants" on Amazon's human resources app deny accommodation requests without engaging with the employee.

DALLAS (CN) — A disabled Texas warehouse worker has sued Amazon, claiming she was fired after having a stroke at work and that the company’s human resources app is designed to “weed out” disabled employees.

Othea Jones filed the employment discrimination class action in Dallas federal court on June 21, claiming the Seattle-based conglomerate requires employees to use the Amazon A to Z app to request any accommodation.

“Requests for accommodation are routinely denied and defendant does not engage in the interactive process as the app simply is not designed to allow such an interactive process,” Jones says in her 13-page complaint.

Jones says she was sent home after she became dizzy and collapsed during a shift in November. Her doctor and Amazon’s own doctor concluded her high blood pressure and hypertension caused a stroke, and she says she was to submit her doctor’s note and accommodation request in the app. Jones’ doctor concluded she needed limited standing time and no lifting of over 50 pounds over her head.

“Defendant denied plaintiff her accommodations through the A to Z app without any explanation or justification,” Jones says in her complaint. “Plaintiff repeatedly submitted her accommodation request and each time it was denied.”

Jones says she was abruptly fired two months after the stroke because “she had accrued too many absences,” specifically the month of the stroke when Amazon is accused of refusing to allow her to work.

She claims Amazon’s website identified an unspecified team of “accommodation consultants” to provide “accommodation support” for employees.

“Defendant’s decentralized human resources model does not allow for appropriate conversations about class member disabilities,” Jones says in the complaint. “This team of accommodation consultants simply weeds out requests for accommodation, and does not engage in any interactive process.”

Jones claims federal law requires a continued dialogue with the employee after an accommodations request is made, and that an employee is not required to jump through “voluminous channels, automated responses and appeal procedures” before being able to speak with a live person.

The lawsuit comes 18 months after the U.S. Department of Labor fined three Amazon warehouses in Florida, New York and Illinois for failing to provide safe workplaces. A labor union coalition called the Strategic Organizing Center concluded that 49% of all U.S. warehouse injuries in 2021 involved Amazon workers.

Amazon did not immediately respond to an email message requesting comment Monday afternoon.

Jones is represented by Walker Harman with Harman Green in Dallas. She seeks compensatory damages as well as damages for wages and emotional distress under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code.

Follow @davejourno
Categories / Business, Employment

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