A former housekeeper for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos claims she and other employees were forced to work in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, including having to climb out of a laundry room window to access a bathroom.
Mercedes Wedaa is suing Mr. Bezos and two companies that allegedly manage his properties in a lawsuit filed in Seattle this week.
She was hired in 2019 for a job as a housekeeper that required her to “work around a family without being seen,” according to the complaint.
Some of her shifts lasted up to 2 p.m. without a break, during which time there was “no reasonably accessible bathroom for housekeepers,” according to the lawsuit.
When the Bezos family was home, housekeepers were only allowed into the house to clean, which meant they couldn’t use the laundry room door to directly access a bathroom. because it only led to the residence.
Instead, they sometimes had to exit through the laundry room window onto a path that led to a mechanical room and downstairs to a bathroom, a situation that had been in place for about 18 months, Ms. Wedaa claims.
The complaint said that due to the lack of easily accessible bathrooms, she and other housekeepers spent much of their day unable to use the toilet, leading to frequent urinary tract infections.
Among Ms. Wedaa’s other demands were:
• There was no place for the cleaners to rest
• Housekeepers sometimes took their meals in a laundry room
• Hispanic employees were discriminated against because of their race
• She complained to bosses about hiring undocumented workers on a contract basis, lack of breaks and unsafe working conditions
• Following her complaints, she was demoted, although she was never sanctioned for her professional performance
• She was wrongfully fired, told she looked ‘unhappy’ and it was having a negative effect on the team
Ms. Wedaa is seeking damages, the amount of which will be determined at trial.
Mr Bezos’ lawyer Harry Korrell said Ms Wedaa’s claims were nonsense, adding that she only lodged a complaint after her $9m (£8m) demand for payment ) was refused.
He added: “Ms Wedaa was making over six figures a year and was the main housekeeper.
“She was responsible for her own break and meal times, and there were several bathrooms and rest rooms available to her and other staff.
“The evidence will show that Ms Wedaa was terminated for performance reasons.”
Ms Wedaa’s solicitor, Patrick McGuigan, said his client had ‘worked hard her whole life, she is a very credible person and there is compelling evidence to support her claims’.