Black Amazon manager files lawsuit against company over racial discrimination

The ‘de-leveling’ of employees of color when they are hired is common

A Black senior manager at Amazon has hit the company with a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination. 

Charlotte Newman filed a lawsuit Monday against the tech giant for discrimination, sexual harassment, and pay inequality. Her complaint details how Black and Latino employees are routinely hired at low-paying positions than the jobs they apply for — a practice called ‘de-leveling, which ultimately hinders their path for advancement. The suit also alleges that Newman was sexually harassed and assaulted by a senior coworker, Andres Maz, who is named in the complaint, per The Hill.

Maz “felt free to sexually harass Ms. Newman and at times in plain view of others,” the lawsuit alleges. He no longer works for Amazon.

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Newman, who works at Amazon Web Services, was hired four years ago as a public policy manager, a “level 6” position, despite applying for a senior manager position. According to the complaint, it would be nearly three years before she was promoted to “the level at which she should have been hired in the first place.”

Newman was also paid “significantly less than her white coworkers, particularly in valuable Amazon stock,” according to the suit. 

“Racial and sexual discrimination exists in Amazon’s corporate corridors, not just its warehouses — it simply takes a different form. Amazon has failed to seriously grapple with these issues among its management,” the complaint states. 

“Amazon should harness the power of diverse leadership, instead of dimming the light of Black employees,” Newman said in a statement. 

Newman’s supervisor Steven Block is also named in the lawsuit for using “sallegedly describing the way she speaks in meetings as “aggressive,” “too direct,” and “scary”.

The complaint notes that Newman “certainly is not alone among Amazon’s corporate workforce in facing discriminatory treatment.”

“Based upon numerous conversations with other Amazon employees who are persons of color and/or women, the ‘de-leveling’ of Black employees when they are hired … is common, as is a longer wait for promotions for Black employees and women,” the complaint states.

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“Black employees who Ms. Newman talked with, as well as many Black employees who talked with reporters, consistently found that they and Black co-workers were slotted into Amazon job levels and compensation lower than their experience and credentials supported,” the lawsuit states.  

An Amazon spokesperson said the company is investigating Newman’s allegations.

“Amazon works hard to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture, and these allegations do not reflect those efforts or our values. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind and thoroughly investigate all claims and take appropriate action. We are currently investigating the new allegations included in this lawsuit,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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