Amazon Web Services workers petition against workplace harassment and discrimination

Amazon is investigating ongoing harassment cases at Amazon Web Services. After a petition was signed by over 550 employees, the company will look into the division's alleged history of discrimination and harassment.

Reported by The Washington Post, the petition claims that AWS has an “underlying culture of systemic discrimination, harassment, bullying and bias against women and under-represented groups.”

Amazon Web Services has a harassment culture

The petition against AWS cites five separate instances of employees suing the company over discrimination and harassment. Lawsuits have been filed in Seattle, Arizona, California and Delaware, all over harassment and discrimination against gender, race and sexuality.

One lawsuit from ex-AWS human resources employee Pearl Thomas claims that she was disciplined after complaining about racial abuse. In the suit, Thomas explains that she was called the N-word after her manager thought the call had disconnected. After complaining, she was placed in a performance improvement process.

Furthermore, gay executive at Amazon Web Services Cindy Walker was allegedly fired after accusing a manager of homophobia. Walker claims that she was fired after hiring a lawyer to tackle the situation legally.

Another lawsuit was filed by shift manager Emily Sousa. The lawsuit alleges that a manager compared her to an “adult film star" at work. Additionally, a supervisor at the company asked her to spend time with him outside of the workplace. After refusing, she was demoted.

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“No Evidence"

Despite the ongoing list of lawsuits regarding the Amazon Web Services department, the main branch's investigations into the situations have turned up naught.

In response to the allegations, Amazon spokeswoman Jaci Anderson disputed all five lawsuits surrounding AWS. She said:

“We are conducting thorough investigations for each of these unrelated cases, as we do with any reported incidents, and we have found no evidence to support the allegations”

The petition, signed by 550 Amazon employees, claims that the investigations into harassment cases are “not fair, objective or transparent”. It reads: “Despite assertions from HR that the company ‘doesn’t condone harassment and discrimination’, and that claims investigated have been ‘unsubstantiated’... the system is set up to protect the company and the status quo, rather than the employees filing the complaints.”

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