Date
22 August 2017
Amazon is the subject of a series of complaints relating to transgender bias filed by a former employee and her husband. Photo: Reuters
Amazon is the subject of a series of complaints relating to transgender bias filed by a former employee and her husband. Photo: Reuters

Amazon sued by transgender woman, husband for harassment

A transgender woman and her husband are suing Amazon.com Inc., accusing the company of subjecting them to severe harassment and physical threats when they both worked at the retailer’s warehouse in Kentucky, Reuters reports.

A group representing the couple said their case was striking given the Seattle-based company’s vocal support of LGBT rights.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Kentucky said Allegra Schawe-Lane was subjected to taunts such as “shemale” and “crossdresser” from coworkers. She and her husband Dane Lane also received crass comments about their sex life, it said.

The couple lodged a series of complaints with supervisors during the year they worked at the Hebron, Kentucky warehouse, but the company took no action, the lawsuit said.

Supervisors joined in the harassment and were instructed to “watch them closely.” The two feared for their lives after a coworker cut the brake lines on their car, according to the lawsuit. The couple quit their jobs in 2015 following the incidents.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit comes after Amazon, one of the United States’ largest companies, was lauded by civil rights groups for their drama Transparent, one of the first series to feature a transgender lead character.

“We call on Amazon to examine the disconnect between the message of its hit show Transparent and the discrimination perpetrated against Allegra and Dane,” said Jillian Weiss, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is representing the couple in the lawsuit, and which gave Transparent an award in 2015.

Lane and Schawe-Lane say Amazon violated federal and Kentucky laws banning sex discrimination in the workplace. Several federal courts have ruled that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of unlawful sex bias.

Schawe-Lane also says Amazon violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because supervisors viewed her gender dysphoria as a disability.

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