In a lawsuit filed this week, a transgender woman claimed her co-workers and managers at a Amazon warehouse created “intolerable” working conditions for her and her husband .
Allegra Schawe-Lane was hired to work at an Amazon facility in Hebron, Kentucky, in 2014. According to the suit, her supervisor was given paperwork that revealed her pre-transition name, and disclosed she was transgender to multiple other employees.
That, Schawe-Lane alleges, fueled a series of discriminatory incidents.
Co-workers repeatedly used male pronouns to humiliate Allegra and referred to her as a “tranny prostitute” and “chick with a dick.” Schawe-Lane’s birth name was listed on her ID badge and the warehouse assignment board, even after she asked for it to be corrected.
In one instance, the lawsuit states, “A group of women entered the restroom and one loudly exclaimed, ’It’s in here right now.” One woman responded, ’Maybe we should just drag it outside the fucking stall.'” (After the incident, Schawe-Lane says she avoided using the bathroom at the warehouse, leading to bladder and kidney infections.)
Both Allegra and her husband, Dane Lane, say they were subjeccted to sexual harassment on the job—with one coworker propositioning him and giving her pornography and sex toys. “My husband and I were devoted to our jobs,” said Schawe-Lane. “In return, we were treated atrociously by our co-workers and our bosses, simply because I am a woman.”
The couple also report the brakes on Allegra’s car were cut, which they only discovered while driving home from work.
Each incident was reported to Amazon HR but, according to the suit, they were not investigated—and resulted in even more discrimination: They were given less desirable tasks, not allowed to take breaks together, and Allegra was denied permission to get medical treatment.
After her brakes were cut, Schawe-Lane and her husband were transferred to a different warehouse but, they maintain, the abuse continued. In October 2015, they both quit their jobs with Amazon, citing the mental and physical toll the situation was taking on them.
They filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ruled their accusations were valid. The couple is now moving ahead with a civil suit, and are being represented by the Transgender Legal and Educational Defense Fund.
“No one deserves to be singled out and abused the way we were,” Schawe-Lane said in a statement. “The trauma we withstood still impacts us negatively today, creating serious health problems and leaving us with no money to pay for the doctors we desperately need. We are filing this lawsuit to ensure that no other transgender person or their spouse ever face such job discrimination at Amazon in the future.”
Amazon has consistently been held up as a LGBT-friendly corporation, receiving high marks on HRC’s Corporate Responsibility Index. Transparent, Amazon’s acclaimed series about a trans woman transitioning late in life, has also received numerous awards. So far, the company has declined to comment on the suit.