Labor disputes with Amazon continued this week, this time with New York State filing a complaint against Amazon accusing the e-commerce giant of discriminating against pregnant workers and workers with disabilities. New York’s Division of Human Rights filed a complain alleging that instead of accommodations, the company forces them to take unpaid leaves of absence. The New York agency listed instances of situations where the company failed to accommodate these workers as well. For example, one pregnant worker received an accommodation not to lift anything over 25 pounds, but a manager refused to honor the accommodation, so she was forced to keep lifting. Worse, she then became injured at work and instead of agreeing to additional accommodations, Amazon simply forced her on unpaid leave. The State alleges this conduct violates New York’s human rights law and demands Amazon “pay civil fines and penalties to the State of New York” and stop the discriminatory conduct.
The United States’ Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, announced that the U.S. will be asking Mexico to review whether management at the Panasonic Automotive Systems de Mexico facility are violating workers rights. The plant, located in Reynosa, State of Tamaulipas, is accused of denying their workers the right to the freedom of association and collective bargaining. This is the third time this year the U.S. has made such a request to Mexico under various bilateral trade agreements, known as the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism. Trade Representative Tai stated, “[W]hen concerns arise, we will work swiftly to stand up for workers on both sides of the border. . . . Along with Secretary Marty Walsh and his team at the Department of Labor, we have worked closely with the Mexican government to address Rapid Response Labor Mechanism matters quickly, and I look forward to doing the same on this issue as well.”
Instacart lost its bid this week to forced claims made by the San Diego City Attorney into arbitration. San Diego has sued Instacart alleging that it intentionally misclassifies workers as independent contractors. Instacart argued in state court that the City is no different from individual plaintiffs under the State of California’s Private Attorneys General Act. The judge agreed in part, and came to a different conclusion. Instead, that commonality meant that arbitration cannot be compelled because lawsuits deriving from that statute are closer to suits between the employer and the state, note the employer and the employee. Hence arbitration could not be compelled. The judge wrote, “The [Federal Arbitration Act] does not require courts to expand the contours of the agreement to compel non-parties, here the government, to arbitration.”