Reuters reports that "a New York state agency has accused Amazon.com Inc. in a complaint of discriminating against pregnant and disabled workers at its worksites, Governor Kathy Hochul said on Wednesday.
"Amazon was also accused of having policies requiring workers to take unpaid leaves of absence, even if they are capable of working, instead of providing reasonable accommodations.
"The New York State Division of Human Rights faulted Amazon for giving worksite managers the power to ignore the company's in-house 'accommodation consultants' who recommended that workers receive modified schedules or job responsibilities.
State law requires employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant and disabled workers who ask. It also treats pregnancy-related medical conditions as disabilities."
According to the story, "Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said Hochul's announcement was surprising because the Seattle-based company had been cooperating and working closely with the New York regulator. She also said Amazon considers it 'extremely important' that all employees feel safe and supported, and works diligently to provide accommodations, while acknowledging that with more than 1.6 million employees 'we don't always get it right'."
Which means you can add another brick to the wall of charges and investigations that Amazon is facing from regulators, legislators, and union organizers. No wonder Jeff Bezos likes going into space…
On the other hand, the skies may not be the safest place for him to be.
Business Insider reports that "Amazon's Prime Air autonomous drone delivery program has tried to put off federal investigations into some of its drone crashes by claiming that the company has the authority to investigate its own crashes, according to federal documents obtained through a public records request. The company has also been slow to turn over data related to crashes, the documents show.
"On at least two occasions, inspectors for the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates drone flights, were surprised to learn that Amazon had moved crash evidence, which an inspector said inhibited at least one of the investigations, according to the documents. During another investigation, Amazon told the FAA that the agency's involvement was unnecessary.
"At least eight Amazon drones crashed during testing in the past year, Insider previously reported, including one that sparked a 20-acre brush fire in eastern Oregon last June after the drone's motors failed.
"Taken together, the documents suggest that Amazon has at times begrudged federal inspections of its experimental drone crashes. These findings come as the company seeks FAA approval to fly its drones in residential areas ahead of a potential mid-2024 customer debut. Regulatory delays could "totally disrupt" that timeline, the company told FAA officials in a Zoom call with the agency earlier this year, according to the FAA's notes on that call.
"An Amazon spokesperson said that Insider's characterization of the FAA documents was 'misleading and inaccurate'."
- KC's View:
In general, I think it is fair to say that most businesses "begrudge" any oversight and interference by legislators and regulators … so I don't have doubt about that part of the story. But it does seem as if Amazon's ambitions for drone deliveries may exceed its ability to deliver on that promise.
As for the discrimination charges … I suspect that we will find out that Amazon, in fact, didn't get it right. It almost is inevitable that in a company as large as Amazon, isolated cases like these will occur. If so, Amazon needs to get ahead of the story, and make sure the problem is not systemic.