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Have you been wrongfully terminated by Amazon?
Do you feel you were wrongfully terminated from your job at Amazon?
To help you decide whether you have grounds to bring a legal claim, here are some things to consider.
Understanding “At Will” Employment
As the NCSL explains,
Employment relationships are presumed to be “at-will” in all U.S. states except Montana. The U.S. is one of a handful of countries where employment is predominantly at-will.
About 74% of US workers are considered at-will workers. Employment contracts and job offers often use the expression “at-will” to make this clear.
Some jobs are not “at-will.” High-level employees are more likely to have contracts that specify a term of employment. This means that employment is “guaranteed” for a number of years or months and the employee can only be fired for a good reason, such as failing to do their job properly or breaking the law.
Collective bargaining agreements (i.e., employment agreements for employees in a labor union) will usually say that an employee can only be fired for cause.
As the NCSL notes,
At-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason without incurring legal liability. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
At-will also means that an employer can change the terms of the employment relationship with no notice and no consequences. For example, an employer can alter wages, terminate benefits, or reduce paid time off.
Thus, simply firing someone for “no reason” isn’t necessarily wrongful termination. For the firing of an at-will employee to be grounds for a wrongful termination claim, the reason the employee was fired must be illegal or otherwise improper.
What is illegal employment discrimination?
Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
Both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in relation to:
As the EEOC explains,
An employer may not take into account a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information when making decisions about discipline or discharge. For example, if two employees commit a similar offense, an employer many not discipline them differently because of their race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
When deciding which employees will be laid off, an employer may not choose the oldest workers because of their age.
Employers need to make reasonable accommodations
Employers need to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless this could cause more than a minor burden on the company’s operations.
As the EEOC notes,
Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.
Employers also need to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities unless this would cause an undue burden to the employer. Reasonable accommodations can include things like:
As the ADA National Network explains, accommodations for mental illness can include:
According to the EEOC,
Undue hardship means that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer’s size, financial resources, and the needs of the business. An employer may not refuse to provide an accommodation just because it involves some cost. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant wants. If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide.
Failure to Accommodate as Constructive Discharge
A failure to accommodate can result in a “constructive discharge.” This means that the employer made the working conditions that any reasonable person would feel forced to resign. This is considered to be equivalent to being fired.
In a case from the Sixth Circuit, a former cashier with severe arthritis and other health issues couldn’t stand for more than 15 minutes without extreme pain. She requested a stool to sit on while working, and had a doctor’s note to support this request, but her employer refused because other employees allegedly complained about favoritism and wanted their own stools. When she quit, the court found that she had been constructively discharged when the employer failed to accommodate her disability.
Other Grounds for Wrongful Termination Claims
Other potential grounds for a wrongful termination claim include:
Wrongful Termination at Amazon
As GeekWire reported,
A former Amazon employee is suing the company, claiming she was wrongfully terminated after taking time off to recover from COVID-19-like symptoms and sounding the alarm about safety concerns inside the warehouse where she worked.
According to the Seattle Times,
Amazon has settled a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that it wrongfully terminated two Seattle office employees, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, in retaliation for their advocacy on behalf of warehouse workers at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As CNBC reported,
Amazon recently settled with Jonathan Bailey, an Amazon employee who led a walkout over Covid-19 concerns at a warehouse in Queens, New York, and later accused the company of violating federal labor law when it interrogated him following the walkout, according to The New York Times.
Amazon also reached a settlement with Courtney Bowden, a warehouse worker in Pennsylvania, who alleged she was wrongfully terminated after advocating for sick pay for part-time workers, NBC News reported.
What can you do if you were wrongfully terminated by Amazon?
If you were wrongfully terminated by Amazon, call attorney Cj Rosenbaum at 212-256-1109, text 212-256-8492, or email CJ@AmazonSellersLawyer.com. You can also submit a summary of your situation online .
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