Fired Amazon worker with Crohn's sues over bathroom breaks


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Amazon employee in Kentucky with the inflammatory bowel condition known as Crohn’s disease has sued the company over his dismissal for what he says was a need for more bathroom breaks.

The company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act with “unyielding and inhuman policies regarding bathroom access,” according to the 18-page complaint filed in federal court in Lexington.

The former employee, Nicholas Stover of Lexington, says Amazon was aware of his illness when he was hired at a Winchester call center in November 2016. The suit says the condition can “lead to life- threatening complications.” Crohn’s inflames the digestive tract and is capable of causing stomach pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss. The illness has no cure but symptoms can be lessened with treatment.

An Amazon spokesman said by email Friday that the company doesn’t comment on pending lawsuits.

The suit, filed Feb. 15, seeks a minimum of $3 million in damages for lost past and future wages and a “significant amplification of the symptoms” of Stover’s disease.

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Employees at the call center were given two 15-minute breaks and an hour for meal time, along with 20 minutes a week of personal time, the lawsuit said. Stover’s supervisor “accused Mr. Stover in writing of using ‘too much personal time’ and later told him orally that he was engaging in ‘time theft’ from Amazon because of excessive bathroom breaks.”

Despite requests, Stover’s supervisors did not give him any options for unscheduled bathroom breaks and they did not offer to move his work station closer to a bathroom, according to the lawsuit. His desk was a one- to two-minute walk to the bathroom.

Stover said he also was receiving intravenous treatment for Crohn’s, and the company would not accommodate his treatment schedule.

Stover was fired Dec. 21, 2017, with an “involuntary termination” letter. It cited no grounds for the firing, the suit said, but a supervisor told Stover that the reason for his firing was “time theft.”

Last year, ranked Amazon at the top of its list of the best places to work in the U.S., and the company has about a half-million employees worldwide.

The lawsuit was first reported by The Seattle Times.

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