Amazon Violating its OWN Policies

Has Amazon violated its own policies?

Has Amazon violated its own employment policies?

Were you fired because of one bad day at work?

Were you denied paid or unpaid leave because of Amazon’s messed up leave system?

If so, here are some things to think about if you’re deciding whether to make a claim against Amazon.

“At Will” Employment

Most employees at Amazon and other US companies are “at will.” This mean they can be fired at any time for any legal reason, or for no reason. They can also quit at any time.

Thus, firing someone for violating an Amazon policy is often perfectly legal. Also, inconsistency in enforcing or failing to enforce an Amazon policy isn’t automatically grounds for a lawsuit.

However, it can be illegal employment discrimination if some employees are allowed to get away with violating Amazon policies and others aren’t.

Employment Discrimination

As the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity)
  • National Origin

Thus, enforcing (or not enforcing) Amazon policies based on the race, color, etc. of the employee could be a violation of laws against employment discrimination.

You may also want to read our articles on discrimination on the basis of:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Marital Status
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability, including Mental Illness
  • Country of Origin
  • Credit History

One Bad Day

Were you fired for having one bad day at work?

As the New York Times reported,

an employee named Dayana Santos, … had been praised by managers and then was fired for one bad day when for various reasons she wasn’t consistently producing. She’s someone the company should have wanted to keep. Amazon has since changed the policy that led to her firing, but the example shows that the company has built systems that cannot always effectively assess who is a capable worker.


Amazon also changed its use of a productivity metric that some workers said had been arbitrarily applied. Someone can no longer be fired for one bad day.

Problems with Amazon’s Leave Programs

Since there is (sadly) no national right to paid leave for illness, vacation, and other reasons, leave is governed by state and local laws and by company policies and employment contracts.

As the New York Times notes,
As the country’s second largest private employer, Amazon offers a wide array of leaves — paid or unpaid, medical or personal, legally mandated or not. While Amazon used to outsource the management of its leave programs, it brought the effort in-house when providers couldn’t keep up with its growth. It is now one of the largest leave administrators in the country.
Employees apply for leaves online, on an internal app, or wade through automated phone trees. The technology that Amazon uses to manage leaves is a patchwork of software from a variety of companies — including Salesforce, Oracle and Kronos — that do not connect seamlessly.
Your Amazon employment contract or company handbook may say how much vacation and sick leave you’re entitled to. However, you may have a hard time getting what you deserve.

As the Times reported, Amazon’s system for tracking paid and unpaid leave has been plagued with problems:

For at least a year and a half — including during periods of record profit — Amazon had been shortchanging new parents, patients dealing with medical crises and other vulnerable workers on leave, according to a confidential report on the findings.

For example,

Workers across the country facing medical problems and other life crises have been fired when the attendance software mistakenly marked them as no-shows, according to former and current human resources staff members, some of whom would speak only anonymously for fear of retribution. Doctors’ notes vanished into black holes in Amazon’s databases.

These problems are not just a huge hassle for Amazon workers. They could also violate the FMLA as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Amazon is aware of these problems. As the Times reported,
In internal correspondence, company administrators warned of “inadequate service levels,” “deficient processes” and systems that are “prone to delay and error.”
Amazon’s new CEO, Andy Jassy, said an event that the process “didn’t work the way we wanted it to work.”

The personnel responsible for administering Amazon’s leave programs may not all be properly trained. As the Times reported,

An external assessment last fall found that the back-office staff members who talk with employees “do not understand” the process for taking leaves and regularly gave incorrect information to workers. In one audited call, which dragged on for 29 minutes, the phone agent told a worker that he was too new to be eligible for short-term disability leave, when in fact workers are eligible from their first day.

Policy Violations at Amazon

The New York Times reported that because of the broken leave process at Amazon,

a Tennessee warehouse worker abruptly stopped receiving disability payments, leaving his family struggling to pay for food, transportation or medical care.

The employee had worked at Amazon for six years before repeated heart attacks and strokes forced him to go on disability leave. Because he stopped getting paid, his car was repossessed, and he and his wife had to sell their wedding rings to afford food and doctors’ bills.

In another case, said the Times,
Leslie Tullis, who managed a subscription product for children, faced a mounting domestic violence crisis and requested an unpaid leave that employers must offer under Washington State law to protect victims. Once approved, Ms. Tullis would be allowed to work intermittently; she could be absent from work as much as necessary, and with little notice; and she would be protected against retaliation.
Amazon granted the leave, but the company didn’t seem to understand what it had said yes to. It had no policy that corresponded to the law of the company’s home state, court documents show. Ms. Tullis said she spent as many as eight hours a week dealing with the company to manage her leave. At one point, she was moving regularly to keep her children safe. Despite the legal protections, her bosses would become visibly frustrated when she was behind on work, “like I was betraying them every day,” she said.

What can you do if Amazon has violated its own policies or applied them in a discriminatory fashion?

If Amazon has violated its own policies, or applied them in a discriminatory manner, and you’ve been negatively affected, call attorney Cj Rosenbaum at 212-256-1109, text 212-256-8492, or email You can also submit a summary of your situation online .

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Rosenbaum, Famularo & Segall, P.C.

Telephone: 212-256-1109


Address: 138 East Park Ave. Long Beach, NY 11561

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