Man And Transgender Wife Sue Amazon Over Discrimination

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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Grace Carr Reporter
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A man and his transgender wife filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Wednesday, alleging that they were subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination during their year of work at an Amazon warehouse.

Dane Lane and his trans wife, Allegra Schawe-Lane, filed their lawsuit with the U.S. District Court, in which they claim that they were subject to slurs and threats against their person by some of their coworkers at the shipping factory where they worked. The couple said that, after they complained to their superiors, no steps were taken to stop the harassment. They also allege that one of the brake lines in their car was cut.

Amazon hired the couple in 2014 but they resigned one year later, claiming mistreatment. “I thought we would be safe and accepted,” Schawe-Lane told the Courier Journal in a telephone interview. Instead, workers taunted them with “shemale” and “crossdresser” comments, according to Reuters. Schawe-Lane said he initially wanted to get a job at Amazon because of its LGBT-friendly reputation, as well as its policy prohibiting sexual and gender discrimination.

Amazon Studios recently produced “Transparent,” a film featuring a transgender protagonist, and has supported transgender rights in other court cases, noted Jillian Weiss, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund executive director. Weiss said that, despite these seemingly inclusive actions, the company doesn’t always follow suit in its treatment of transgender workers.

“We have a company that touts its transgender friendliness,” Weiss said. “Yet in Kentucky, when a transgender person comes and says, ‘Look, I’m being harassed,’ they get no help.”

The couple said they are in treatment for the distress they have endured, and are not ready to take new jobs, per their doctor’s advice. The couple is seeking damages, the amount of which will be determined by the judge if the case proceeds, as well as new programs to address how to respectfully treat transgender employees.

Amazon declined to comment, saying in an email that the company has a practice of not commenting on active litigation.

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