The former CEO of Amazon and current Chairman of the Board of Directors of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is in turmoil. The American billionaire is sued by Mercedes Wedaa, his former domestic worker for several reasons. Indeed, the latter criticizes Jeff Bezos for the infernal work rates and the prohibition which would have been made to him to access the toilets. In her complaint, Mercedes Wedaa of Hispanic origin, also claims to have been the victim of racial discrimination in the same way as her non-white colleagues.
A pipigate bis for the founder of amazon?
As early as 2018, several testimonials from employees of Amazon, the e-commerce giant, reported more than questionable working conditions imposed by certain managers. “People were peeing in bottles, because they lived in fear of being punished for wasting time, and losing their jobs, because they needed to go to the toilet.” said a British employee. Mark Poca, a Democrat elected to the House of Representatives challenged3 years later, bluntly the international firm on Twitter “Just because you pay your employees $15 an hour doesn’t make you a progressive workplace when you make your employees urinate in plastic bottles.” Laconic response from the official Amazon account “You don’t really believe that peeing in bottles thing, do you? If it were true, nobody would work for us.”
Only, here it is… The media immediately relayed numerous testimonies attesting that the employees of the logistics spaces and the drivers were forced to defecate in garbage bags and urinate in bottles to be more productive and not slow down the pace of work. And the investigative online magazine The Intercept, revealed on its website internal documents proving that the company’s managers were fully aware of this practice. The PipiGate was triggered.
After apologies to Mark Poca and after making partial amends, Amazon is always looking for solutions for its teams. And paradoxically to this, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon is also known to own a huge property in Washington which would have no less than 25 bathrooms for his personal use. Access which he would seem to refuse to his employees toiling in his private residences. Wouldn’t he have retained anything?
Since the case was made public at the beginning of November 2022, the complaint filed in court by Mercedes Wedaa against Jeff Bezos and the company that manages his properties has caused a stir across the Atlantic. What appeals to the general public? The grounds for the complaint.
Hired in 2019 as a domestic coordinator in the Seattle property as well as in other residences of billionaire Jeff Bezos, Mercedes Wedaa only lasted barely 3 years. the old housekeeper accuses his former employer of having established “dangerous and unhealthy working conditions”. She reports on long working days up to 14 hours, from a no break room for employees (lunch or rest breaks being de facto prohibited), of a lack of toilets devolved to the housekeeping staff of Jeff Bezos.
In the complaint, the following details are specified: “For 18 months, in order to use the toilets, the complainant and the other cleaning staff were forced to go through the window of the laundry room to get out, and then to run on the path which along the technical room, to cross it and down to the toilets. They were used by men and women, for example the field workers.” And to add, that a certain number of employees would have suffered from urinary infections because “they had to spend most of their day to refrain from going to the toilets”.
Originally from South America, Mercedes Wedaa also evokes racial discrimination which she and other Hispanic cleaning workers allegedly suffered. The manager of Jeff Bezos’ cleaning team was even said to be “aggressive and abusive” towards her, while he was “respectful and polite” towards white employees.
The lawyers for billionaire Jeff Bezos fiercely deny these accusations arguing that the plaintiff, Mercedes Wedaa, was dismissed because her work was unsatisfactory. Case to follow in the People section.