Home USA News Former housekeeper sues Jeff Bezos, claims discrimination

Former housekeeper sues Jeff Bezos, claims discrimination

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SEATTLE — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ former housekeeper says she and other employees worked in unsafe conditions, including having to climb through a laundry room window to reach the bathroom anytime the Bezos family was home.

In a lawsuit filed this week in King County Superior Court in Seattle, Mercedes Vedaa, a longtime housekeeper for wealthy Seattleites including the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, claims she was discriminated against and retaliated against when she complained about a lack of vacation breaks. or a place where employees can eat.

Harry Correll, a lawyer for Bezos, called the claims absurd and said Vedaa only filed suit against Bezos and the two companies that manage his wealth and personal investments, Zefram LLC and Northwestern LLC, after her claim for $9 million was rejected .

“Ms. Wedaa made more than six figures a year and was the head housekeeper,” Correll said in an emailed statement. “She was in charge of her own break and meal times, and there were multiple bathrooms for her and other staff and rest rooms. The evidence will show that Ms. Wedaa was terminated for efficiency reasons.”

According to the lawsuit, Zephram hired Vedaa in September 2019 as a “house coordinator,” and she was initially the only housekeeper on staff, although contract workers were brought in from time to time. Another housekeeper was added about a year later, and at the end of last year, Vedaa was the head housekeeper overseeing several others.

Vedaa claims in the lawsuit that she sometimes worked up to 14 hours a day but was never told she was entitled to time off. She also says that there was no room set aside for the housewives to rest, and that they sometimes ate in the laundry room.

When the Bezos family was home, the housekeeper was only allowed to enter the house to perform cleaning duties. According to the complaint, this created situations where the housekeeper could not exit the laundry room because its only door led into the residence. Instead of going out that door, the housekeepers for 18 months sometimes had to climb out of the laundry room window onto the path that led to the mechanical room, enter through the mechanical room and go down to the bathroom.

“Because there was no easily accessible bathroom, the plaintiff and other housewives spend a significant part of the day unable to use the bathroom, even when they need to,” the complaint states. “As a result, housewives often developed urinary tract infections.”

The complaint is unclear about how the housekeepers entered the laundry room, how long they had to stay there while the family was home, or whether they could use the restroom when they entered the home to perform cleaning tasks. Wedaa’s Seattle-based attorney, Patrick Leo McGuiggin, said he had no further details at this early stage of the lawsuit.

“I didn’t question my client ad nauseam,” he said. “She had to climb out of the window. This is a key fact. …I cannot explain all the circumstances and all the evidence that is there. There are many discoveries ahead.”

Vedaa “has worked hard all her life, she is a very reliable person and there is strong evidence to support her claims,” ​​he said.

According to the complaint, Vedaa, who is Hispanic, reported to house managers who were white. She said she complained about the use of undocumented contract workers, lack of rest breaks and unsafe working conditions. She also complained that the assistant house manager treated Hispanic women differently than white staff at the property and retaliated against her by demoting her and assigning a white housekeeper as head housekeeper.

Although Vedaa was never disciplined for her performance of her duties, she was eventually fired because of the complaints, the suit says.

“The defendants cited the ridiculously invented reason that she looked ‘unhappy’ and that it reflected negatively on the home team,” the report said.

The lawsuit against Bezos, who is one of the world’s richest men, seeks damages in an amount to be determined in court.

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