Tech retail giant Amazon is facing a lawsuit from two former employees who claim they were harassed and physically threatened by the company.
The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) filed the lawsuit on Wednesday on the couple’s behalf of Allegra Schawe-Lane and Dane Lane, a married couple who were both employed by Amazon.
According to the filing, Schawe-Lane and her husband “experienced escalating and unrelenting discrimination and harassment” by supervisors and managers of the tech retail company after an Amazon employee told co-workers she was transgender. The Plaintiffs claim their car was “tampered with and its break line was severed” while it was parked on property controlled and secured by the company. Additionally, the Plaintiffs allege they were subjected to improper withholding of their wages and also experienced multiple instances of wrongful conduct by fellow employees, supervisors, and managers at the shipping facility where they worked in Hebron, Kentucky.
The filing shows that employees, supervisors, and managers directed discriminatory slurs at Schawe-Lane while also petitioning to ban her from the women’s restroom. They also intentionally referred to her using male titles and pronouns with the purpose of humiliating her despite knowing she was a woman. Despite filing multiple complaints to her superiors and human resource staff, Amazon did not take the necessary steps to investigate Schawe-Lane’s complaints.
The incidents had taken place from October 2014 through October 2015. Schawe-Lane filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in August 2015. Just this past February, the EEOC issued a ruling on the complaint that found there was substantial evidence that showed Amazon had violated Title VII anti-discrimination laws. They also substantiated Schawe-Lane’s charge that “Amazon denied her reasonable accommodation, subjected her to different terms and conditions of employment, retaliated against her for complaining about discrimination, and constructively discharged her.” Additionally, they found that Amazon failed to retain records in accordance with statutory record-keeping provisions.
Amazon is the second Fortune 500 corporation to be sued for transgender discrimination this month. The EEOC has recently ruled that Walmart was responsible for transgender discrimination in one of its Sam’s Club locations. Both companies score very high on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index when it comes to transgender policies, which brings the overall index ratings into question.
*A correction was made to this article. We originally reported that the harassment took place after Allegra Schawe-Lane notified Amazon that she was transgender. The discrimination actually began after an Amazon employee told co-workers she was transgender.