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Amazon accused of engaging in religious discrimination

The online retail giant Amazon has millions of loyal users in California who are attracted by the company's competitive prices, speedy delivery options and responsive customer service. However, workers at Amazon warehouses often complain about grueling working conditions and unsympathetic managers. The company continues to grow and improve its market share despite these stories, but a federal complaint filed on May 8 could provide Amazon with a far thornier problem.

The complaint, which was submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of three female workers of Somali descent, accuses the retailer of shunning black workers from Somalia and East Africa in favor of white employees when promotions and attractive assignments became available. The women also allege in the complaint that they do not pray at work due to fears of retaliation and were assigned unpleasant duties and issued written warnings when they protested about the alleged conditions on Dec. 14.

Amazon responded to the discrimination complaint quickly but did not directly address the issues it raised. Instead, the company mentioned in a statement that it allows its workers to take paid 20-minute prayer breaks and longer unpaid breaks. The company also cited its efforts to promote religious diversity and the steps it took to prepare for Ramadan.

The kind of allegations contained in this complaint can do significant harm to companies that deal directly with consumers and operate in the public eye. When negotiating on behalf of an employee who has suffered unfair or malicious treatment in the workplace, an attorney with experience in employment law may encourage the employer to avoid possible reputational harm by settling a harassment claim.

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