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Trans Man Sues Amazon for Pregnancy Discrimination, Harassment

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Shaun Simmons, who worked at an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey, says he was harassed by coworkers and denied a promotion.

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A man described alternately as transgender or nonbinary has sued Amazon for pregnancy discrimination and gender identity discrimination.

Shaun Simmons, who worked at an Amazon warehouse in Princeton, N.J., says he was harassed and denied a promotion because he was pregnant. NBC News describes him as a trans man, while the New Jersey Law Journal calls him nonbinary. He filed the suit in September in Mercer County Circuit Court, and Monday it was moved to U.S. District Court for New Jersey.

In the suit, Simmons says that after he let his supervisors know about his pregnancy in June 2019, they told other workers, who began harassing him in the restroom and elsewhere. The supervisors, Mike Menno and Tyler Houpt, started finding fault with his work in hopes that he would be demoted, the suit says. They are named as defendants in the suit, along with the company.

Simmons was placed on paid leave after complaining to human resources, and when he returned to work, "he was assigned to a new position that required lifting large bags of dog food and other heavy items," the Law Journal reports. That caused pain in his abdomen, and he asked for an accommodation, which was denied, and he was placed on unpaid leave pending the birth of the child, according to the suit. He further alleges that an offer of a promotion at a different Amazon location was withdrawn.

The suit accuses Amazon of harassment based on gender identity and discrimination and harassment based on pregnancy, all violations of New Jersey law. Simmons seeks reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages.

"Amazon has a policy and practice of discriminating against individuals because of their disability and/or pregnancy, failing to provide employees with accommodations, and retaliating against employees for requesting an accommodation, which is demonstrated by the dozens of lawsuits filed against Amazon in the past six years in the state of New Jersey alone," the suit reads, according to NBC News.

Attorney Kevin Costello, who is representing Simmons, declined to comment on specifics of the suit but told NBC, "We're proud to be advocating in this case and we look forward to the litigation process and putting this before the jury."

Amazon also declined to comment on the suit but released a statement saying, "We have been, and continue to be, committed to accommodating all employees to perform their duties in a safe and inclusive workplace." The company has a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, and its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, received the organization's Equality Award in 2017.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.