Amazon faces renewed charges of pregnancy discrimination

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Imagine this: You’re pregnant. The law — and your employee handbook — guarantee you at least three 10-minute breaks during your shift. To take your break to go to the bathroom, you have to call your supervisor over and let them know that you need to leave, then navigate your way across a massive warehouse floor to the bathrooms, hope that you don’t have to wait and somehow manage to navigate your way back to your assigned station within that 10-minute period.

This was a reality for a number of pregnant women working in Amazon warehouses. One woman found her supervisor glaring at her every time she returned because it took her five full minutes to make it from her station to the bathroom — giving her only seconds to actually use the bathroom — before she headed back. She often didn’t make it within the 10-minute time frame. When she tried to give her supervisor a note from her doctor saying she needed additional bathroom breaks and time, she was flatly told: “It’s still against the rules.”

She’s far from the only woman who has stepped forward to say that Amazon routinely discriminates against pregnant women. Critics say the company’s warehouse system — which is designed for maximum efficiency — doesn’t support accommodations very well. Anything that gets in the way of speed — like a pregnancy — is seen as a performance problem on the part of the employee.

Numerous women — at least seven — have filed lawsuits in California and other states over pregnancy discrimination. However, litigants say that they’re just a handful of women compared to the real number of victims who have been forced to work against doctor’s orders, had medical limitations ignored or were otherwise penalized simply for being pregnant.

Pregnancy discrimination is against the law. If you were demoted, fired or otherwise treated unfairly by your employer once you became pregnant, find out more about what you can do to fight back.