The three workers, who are Somali-American, say their civil rights have been violated.
By Erin Adler Star Tribune
Wednesday May 15, 2019
Three Somali-American women working in Shakopee are accusing Amazon of violating their civil rights by passing over East African workers for promotions and failing to accommodate Muslim employees’ religious needs.
In their complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the women also are charging the retail giant with retaliating against workers who participated in protests against workplace discrimination, according to a news release from Muslim Advocates, a group representing the women.
The three employees claim they weren’t given the space or time to take prayer breaks, which is part of the practice of their faith. They said they stopped taking bathroom and prayer breaks because they worried about being written up for not meeting packing quotas, which could ultimately result in termination.
In addition, the women allege that white employees were given chances for promotions beyond the level of shipment packer, while qualified black Muslim workers instead received tougher job assignments. This created a “discriminatory, two-tiered system” at the warehouse, the news release said.
Workers at the southwest metro facility have previously protested about discrimination and working conditions, the latter a complaint made by Amazon employees at other locations across the country.
After taking part in one such protest in December, the women said managers began harassing them in retaliation. The harassment included harder assignments along with more supervision and disciplinary measures.
Ashley Robinson, an Amazon spokesperson, told the Washington Post that short prayer breaks — those under 20 minutes in length — are paid and that workers can ask for longer unpaid prayer breaks.