Jeff Bezos sued for alleged mistreatment of housekeepers

Jeff Bezos sued for alleged mistreatment of housekeepers

According to the lawsuit, housekeepers developed urinary tract infections from lack of bathroom access

Published November 4, 2022 8:05PM (EDT)

Jeff Bezos (Getty/Photo Montage by Salon)

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, has been hit with a civil suit by a former housekeeper who alleges that she, and others employed to work at his properties, suffered harmful and discriminatory treatment. 

According to Mercedes Wedaa, who was hired in the fall of 2019, she was instructed to perform her duties “without being seen,” and was often denied access to bathrooms for such an extensive period of time that she would often contract painful urinary tract infections. In addition to the physical harm endured while working for Bezos, she alleges that his subordinates showed discriminatory favoritism for the white workers staffed at his properties over those of other ethnicities, according to NBC News. 

“Employers discriminated against Plaintiff because of her race, forced Plaintiff to work long hours without rest or meal breaks, exposed Plaintiff to unsafe and unsanitary work conditions, retaliated against and wrongfully terminated Plaintiff’s employment,” according to Wedaa’s attorney, Patrick McGuigan.

This is not the first time that Bezos and his affiliations have been accused of such things. In 2021, 20 employees of his Blue Origin rocket ship company alleged that “numerous senior leaders have been known to be consistently inappropriate with women,” according to ABC.  That same year, a manager at Amazon.com Inc sued for discrimination alleging that the company “hires Black people for lower positions and promotes them more slowly than white workers,” according to Reuters. 

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Named as defendants in the suit filed by Wedaa are Bezos himself, along with Zefram LLC and Northwestern LLC, two companies that manage his properties. 

“For about 18 months, in order to use a bathroom, Plaintiff and other housekeepers were forced to climb out the laundry room window to the outside,” the suit details. “Then, run along the path to the mechanical room, through the mechanical room and downstairs to a bathroom. This toilet was used by both men and women, for example grounds staff used it too.”

According to the suit, it wasn’t unusual for Wedaa and other employees at the properties to be forced to work 14-hour shifts with no breaks. 

Kelly McClure is a journalist and fiction writer who lives in New Orleans. She is Salon’s Nights and Weekends editor, and her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere

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