'Had to climb out of window to use bathroom': Jeff Bezos sued by ex-housekeeper for violating labor laws
Mercedes Wedaa alleged that she was forced to work for 14 hours a day without break with no access to bathroom and the workers ate in the laundry room
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Billionaire CEO of Amazon is sued by his former housekeeper for racial discrimination and poor working conditions after she claimed she was forced to work for 14 hours without a break and violated labor laws. Mercedes Wedaa alleged that during her tenure of 3 years, she was disrespected because of her race and wrongfully terminated for blowing the whistle.
The lawsuit filed against Jeff Bezos and two companies he used to hire domestic workers, Zefram, LLC, and Northwestern, LLC, discriminated against her, a Latina, and exposed her to atrocious working conditions, including going for hours without being able to eat or use the restroom, which resulted in health issues. She and other workers allege that they had to climb out of a window to access the bathrooms during long shifts as they were not allowed to use the one's inside the main house but Bezos's attorney has rebutted the claims saying they have "no merit."
“There was no breakroom for the housekeepers,” the lawsuit states. “Even though [Wedaa] worked 10, 12, and sometimes 14 hours a day, there was no designated area for her to sit down and rest. [Wedaa] and other housekeepers would try and eat some food in the upstairs laundry room, which was very small. …No information from the Department of Labor and Industries informing employees of their employee rights was posted anywhere in the place,” reported Daily Beast. Wedaa claimed the housekeepers "frequently" developed Urinary tract infections because of their lack of bathroom access.
Wedaa was hired in September 2019 and later became the lead housekeeper. She worked at Bezos's main 5.3acre Seattle residence in the exclusive suburb of Median and sometimes at his other homes. Wedaa alleges she was also forced to oversee undocumented workers, which made her uncomfortable and prompted her to complain to management. She made a six-figure salary and was fired for her performance issues and it was only after her termination that she filed a lawsuit.
The suit claims because she complained about "discrimination, retaliation, violation of wage and hour laws, violations of workplace health and safety laws, and laws against hiring undocumented workers" her managers retaliated and fired her. Bezos's attorney Harry Korrell said that Wedaa’s labor violation claims “lack merit.” "Ms. Wedaa was terminated for performance reasons. She initially demanded over $9M, and when the company refused, she decided to file this suit,” he said.
Korrell added that “given their backgrounds, the suggestion that Mr. Bezos, Ms. Sanchez, or Northwestern LLC discriminated against Ms. Wedaa based on her race or national origin is absurd.” Her termination papers cited the "ridiculously concocted reason" that she was "unhappy" and having a negative effect on the team, the lawsuit claims. Patrick Leo McGuigan, of HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, who filed the suit on behalf of Wedaa, said, "My client is extremely credible. She's a hard-working American, a person who's been in this industry for some years now, housekeeping for wealthy, high-profile families. She's never had any issues with anyone."