Eight former Black and Latino drivers have filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon for illegally firing and discriminating against them.
The suit claims that the drivers were fired last year after Amazon changed its background check policy to be more stringent.
“I was waking up every morning excited to go to work,” Matthew Soler told NBC Boston’s Jason Frazer.
Soler claims that his license was suspended four years ago after an accident he was involved in. He claims that he was hired by Amazon and even helped to train other drivers before he got a call from one of Amazon’s hiring managers.
“He said we had a problem. We had to let go of a few people,” said Soler.
Soler was one of eight employees in Massachusetts that were let go in 2016 after the company allegedly change its background check policy to be more stringent. All of them are now suing the online retail giant.
“In most cases, the incidents these drivers had on their record were either old or very minor,” said Oren Sellstrom, Litigation Director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.
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The suit claims that African Americans and Latinos are more likely to have minor criminal offenses due to over-policing. Those offenses are often flagged during a background check.
“If you use background checks, it disproportionately affects Black and Latino workers often,” Sellstrom told NBC Boston’s Jason Frazer.
The suit also claims that the fired drivers had no individual assessment for any of the drivers before they were terminated.
But Amazon told NBC Boston the safety of its customers are its number one priority.
In a statement a company spokesperson said. “We have a longstanding practice of not commenting on pending litigation. That said, safety and customer trust are our top priorities, which is why we have always required delivery service providers to conduct comprehensive background checks for their employee drivers. Our supplier code of conduct stipulates that our suppliers must not discriminate. The background check process is focused on job related criminal and motor vehicle convictions and does not consider race, gender, ethnicity, religion or other protected characteristics.”
“We want Amazon to change its policies and treat employees with the response that they deserve,” said Sellstrom.