A transgender woman and her husband have sued Amazon after they allegedly suffered a years worth of threats, slurs and sexual harassment by numerous colleagues.
According to a lawsuit, Dane Lane and Allegra Schawe-Lane endured discrimination and harassment at the online retailer’s warehouse in northern Kentucky.
A lawyer working with the couple said the case is notable in part because Amazon – one of the nation’s largest corporations – has a record of strongly supporting gay and transgender rights.
The case, which was filed in US District Court in Covington, Kentucky, alleges that the couple’s complaints to superiors led to retaliation in some cases, rather than any effective steps to halt the abuse.
At one point, the brake line of their car was allegedly severed while parked in a secure lot at the workplace.
Amazon declined to respond to the allegations, saying in an email, ‘We have a practice of not commenting on active litigation.’
The case will be handled by Kentucky lawyers on behalf of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund , a national transgender-rights organisation.
The fund’s executive director, Jillian Weiss, noted that Amazon has intervened in other court cases in support of transgender rights.
She added that the company’s Amazon Studios produced the acclaimed television series ‘Transparent’ with a protagonist who transitions from male to female.
She said: ‘We have a company that touts its transgender friendliness, yet in Kentucky, when a transgender person comes and says, “Look, I’m being harassed”, they get no help.’
Schawe-Lane said she sought a job with Amazon in part because of the company’s reputation as LGBT-friendly.
Its own corporate policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
She said: ‘I thought we would be safe and accepted. Instead it was like a bad dream.
‘Every day, I’d wish it was Candid Camera and someone would pop out and say it was all a joke.’
Both Dane and Allegra were hired by Amazon in October 2014 and resigned a year later, saying conditions at their workplace were intolerable.
Two months before resigning, they filed discrimination charges with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The EEOC declared earlier this year that evidence substantiated some of the couple’s allegations and said they had grounds for a lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks both compensatory payment and punitive damages, with the amount to be determined by a jury.
It also seeks a court order requiring Amazon to implement workplace programs that would ensure respectful treatment of transgender employees.
Metro.co.uk has contacted Amazon for further comment.