Bulletins

Amazon faces five new discrimination lawsuits

Among the charges: A Black HR leader alleges that her supervisor called her the N-word.

The Amazon logo on a phone.

Five Amazon employees have filed new lawsuits against the company, charging it with discrimination.

Photo: Christian Wiediger/Unsplash

Amazon is facing five separate lawsuits from three current and two former employees alleging discrimination and retaliation.


The first lawsuit, filed by senior human resources specialist Tiffany Gordwin, alleges retaliation and discrimination. Gordwin, a Black woman, claims she has been passed over for promotions and retaliated against for speaking out by racial bias.

Another by Diana Cuervo, a former delivery operations area manager, alleges racial and ethnic harassment from her white, male supervisor. In the lawsuit, Cuervo said her manager made comments like, "Latins suck" and "You are a Latina woman, I need to be careful every time I talk to you." Additionally, Cuervo said she was wrongfully fired after filing a complaint about the harassment and discrimination.

Cindy Warner, who worked at Amazon Web Services until she says she was wrongfully terminated, alleges she was hired at an inappropriately low level, or "deleveled," upon joining Amazon. Similar to Charlotte Newman, the Amazon senior manager who is suing the company for discrimination and harassment, similarly accused the company of hiring her at a lower level. In Warner's case, she also claims she experienced verbal abuse and gender discrimination. She alleges white male managers called her a "bitch," "idiot" and a "nobody." The suit goes on to claim that Amazon unlawfully fired her about three weeks after the company found out she planned to pursue a lawsuit.

Emily Sousa, an area manager, alleges that a male manager compared her to an adult film actress during her first week at Amazon. Sousa, an Asian American woman, also claims she was sexually and racially harassed by a different male manager. The suit states Sousa reported the manager to human resources but the person in question was not reprimanded.

The fifth lawsuit comes from Pearl Thomas, a Black human resources partner, who alleges her direct supervisor called her the N-word. When Thomas reported the incident to "HR for HR," the representative allegedly dismissed her complaints, saying her manager "must not have known you were still on the phone," the suit states. The suit also alleges Amazon retaliated against her after she officially filed a complaint about the racial hostility she experienced. Following her complaint, Amazon placed her on a performance improvement plan.

"Women and employees of color at all levels of Amazon have had their complaints of harassment and discrimination brushed under the rug and met with retaliation for years," Wigdor LLP partners Lawrence Pearson and Jeanne Christensen said in a statement. "Amazon can no longer dismiss abusive behavior and retaliation by white managers as mere anecdotes. These are systemic problems, entrenched deep within the company and perpetuated by a human resources organization that treats employees who raise concerns as the problem. This must be addressed immediately. Until then, we look forward to vigorously litigating our clients' discrimination and retaliation claims against Amazon."

In a statement emailed to Protocol, Amazon said: "We are conducting thorough investigations for each of these unrelated cases, as we do with any reported incidents, and we have found no evidence to support the allegations. Amazon works hard to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment in any form, and employees are encouraged to raise concerns to any member of management or through an anonymous ethics hotline with no risk of retaliation."

Update: This post was updated at 4:05 p.m. PT to include Amazon's statement.

Theranos 'valued PR' over patients, an ex-employee says

Adam Rosendorff said he felt pressured to vouch for tests he did not have confidence in. His testimony appeared to tie Holmes more closely to the lab's failures.

Elizabeth Holmes leaves the San Jose courthouse where her fraud trial is underway.

Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff testified Friday that he repeatedly raised the alarm about bad blood tests to then-CEO Elizabeth Holmes, ultimately concluding that the company valued press and funding more than the patients.

"I was very enthusiastic working at Theranos in the beginning. Over time, I came to realize that the company really valued PR and fundraising above patient care, and I became very disillusioned," Rosendorff said on the witness stand inside the San Jose courtroom where Holmes' trial on fraud charges began this month.

Keep Reading Show less
Biz Carson

Biz Carson ( @bizcarson) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering Silicon Valley with a focus on startups and venture capital. Previously, she reported for Forbes and was co-editor of Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. Before that, she worked for Business Insider, Gigaom, and Wired and started her career as a newspaper designer for Gannett.


Keep Reading Show less
Nasdaq
A technology company reimagining global capital markets and economies.
Protocol | China

Can NFTs happen in a crypto-less China? Amazingly, yes.

Using clever workarounds, Chinese NFT players are managing to weather a regulatory ban on cryptocurrency.

No matter what workarounds Chinese NFT marketplaces choose, the result is that most NFT transactions in China feel detached from cryptocurrency.

Image: Yu Chun Christopher Wong/S3studio/Getty Images

The NFT craze has come to China, but you can hardly see any trace of crypto in it.

In the past two months, Chinese social media and gaming giant Tencent has built an NFT purchase and collection app, ecommerce platform Alibaba sold 50 NFT mooncakes in a stunt to promote a metaverse product and half a dozen startups are competing to be the winner of the localized non-fungible token trading market in China.

Keep Reading Show less
Zeyi Yang
Zeyi Yang is a reporter with Protocol | China. Previously, he worked as a reporting fellow for the digital magazine Rest of World, covering the intersection of technology and culture in China and neighboring countries. He has also contributed to the South China Morning Post, Nikkei Asia, Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. In his spare time, Zeyi co-founded a Mandarin podcast that tells LGBTQ stories in China. He has been playing Pokemon for 14 years and has a weird favorite pick.
Protocol | China

A Chinese ‘game companion’ platform’s phantom shutdown

Bixin said it would shutter its game companion business to keep regulators happy. It looks a lot like business as usual.

China's game companions are becoming even more vulnerable as a result of regulatory scrutiny.

Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

In a clear response to regulatory scrutiny, Bixin, China's leading online marketplace for game companions, or peiwan, announced on Sept. 10 that it would "permanently shutter" its controversial peiwan business. But its internal announcement shared with Protocol seems to contradict its public declarations.

This past summer, Chinese authorities issued a slew of regulations aimed at addressing what Beijing considers toxic subcultures and practices that harm the country's minors. Bixin, an app developed by Shanghai Yitan Network Technology Company with 6 million registered game companions, also received its own share of regulatory pressure. Yitan was founded in 2014 and is backed by IDG Capital.

Keep Reading Show less
Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. She can be reached at shenlu@protocol.com.

Protocol | Enterprise

Startups are pouncing as SaaS giants struggle in the intelligence race

Companies like Salesforce and Workday spent the last two decades building walled gardens around their systems. Now, it's a mad dash to make those ecosystems more open.

Companies want to predict the future, and "systems of intelligence" might be their best bet.

Image: Yuichiro Chino / Getty Images

Take a look at any software vendor's marketing materials and you're sure to see some variation of the word "intelligence" splattered everywhere.

It's part of a tectonic shift happening within enterprise technology. Companies spent the last several years moving their systems to the internet and, along the way, rapidly adopting new applications.

Keep Reading Show less
Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Latest Stories