Amazon Sued by Former Warehouse Worker Over Refusal to Accommodate Disability

Image Source: Scott Lewis (Flickr)

The warehouse worker suffered from nerve damage, and says Amazon failed to appropriately accommodate his disability.

He says he was falsely accused of excessive absence before being fired.

Steve Votaw began working in one of Amazon’s warehouses in the fall of 2014. In December of 2015, he began suffering from extreme mold poisoning, presumably from an out-of-work incident. The poisoning was so bad that it caused nerve damage in Votaw’s face, which caused an chronic build-up of phlegm in his face, according to the complaint he filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Votaw says that dust and chemicals in the warehouse made the problem worse, and so he requested intermittent FMLA leave at his doctor’s order.

He says that Amazon was initially cooperative in granting his leave request, but eventually told him that his leave time had run-out. According to the complaint, Votaw still had a potion of his leave remaining at the time, and requested Amazon allow him to occasionally come and go late or early on days he was suffering. He says Amazon refused to accommodate his request, and informed him that he would need to use his vacation time and sick days to care for his disability in the future.

Votaw says a supervisor assured him he would not be disciplined for leaving early, according to the complaint.

Shortly thereafter, Votaw says Amazon told him he had run out of all of his available time-off, and fired him for excessive absence. Votaw says this was pretextual, and that he was actually fired for requiring medical leave and accommodations, the complaint sates.

He now sues his former employer on five counts, all discrimination and retaliation related, and requests damages both compensatory and punitive. He does not seek reinstatement.

He is represented by attorney Daniel A. Horowitz of Swartz Swindler. Judge Joseph F. Leeson is presiding.