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New York State agency files unfair labor complaint against Amazon

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New York State agency files unfair labor complaint against Amazon
A state agency in New York has filed a complaint against Amazon over unfair labor practices, Gov. Kathy Hochul, pictured, announced Wednesday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

May 18 (UPI) -- A state agency in New York has filed a complaint against Amazon over unfair labor practices, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday.

The New York State Division of Human Rights filed the complaint, accusing Amazon of discriminating against pregnant workers and workers with disabilities.

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The complaint alleges Amazon denied pregnant women and workers with disabilities "reasonable accommodations," instead forcing them to take an unpaid leave of absence.

New York State law requires all employers to "reasonably accommodate" workers with disabilities or pregnancy-related conditions.

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The complaint accuses the multinational tech company's managers of "overriding" decisions made by so-called "Accommodation Consultants," requiring pregnant employees to continue heavy lifting.

Amazon operates 23 worksites with over 39,000 workers across New York State. Its "Accommodation Consultants" evaluate requests for amended duties based on things like pregnancy, on a case-by-case basis.

The complaint points to an example of one pregnant worker being told by one of the consultants that she shouldn't have to lift anything over 25 pounds, only to have that overruled by a manager.

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The complaint lays out another case where a worker requested and then was denied a modified work schedule related to a documented disability.

"My administration will hold any employer accountable, regardless of how big or small, if they do not treat their workers with the dignity and respect they deserve," Hochul said in a statement.

"New York has the strongest worker protections in the nation and was one of the first to have protections for workers who are pregnant and those with disabilities. Working men and women are the backbone of New York and we will continue to take a stand against any injustice they face."

Amazon, however, told UPI it hasn't yet received the complaint.

"Ensuring all our employees, including those with disabilities and expectant mothers, feel safe and supported is extremely important to Amazon and we have numerous programs to ensure that's the case, and while we don't always get it right with a workforce of over 1.6 million people, we work diligently to offer the best available options to accommodate individual situations," Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement.

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"We're surprised by the governor's announcement this morning because we've been cooperating and working closely with her investigator on this matter and had no indication a complaint was coming," Nantel said.

This is not the first time the company's labor practices have been in the news.

In early May, ​​a labor union that successfully organized an Amazon.com facility in New York City in April, failed to do the same thing at a second workplace in nearby Staten Island.Amazon spokeswoman, Kelly Nantel: "

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