Amazon Fires Employee Who Asked For Time Off To Pick Her Kids Up From School

by: Lucy Jones | 2 years ago | News

An Amazon factory worker. Image source.

Amazon has once again come under fire for the alleged mistreatment of its employees. A former Amazon staff member is suing the notoriously negligent company for firing her after she asked to work flexible hours. Rachel Shafner, who was the executive assistant to one of Amazon's highest-ranking Australian bosses, claims that she was dismissed when she asked for time off to pick her children up from school while her husband was in hospital. 

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Shafner took over the responsibility of dropping off and picking up her children from school in March this year when her husband was diagnosed with an illness that landed him in hospital. Two months later, Amazon sent Shafner a formal warning for taking time off work to pick her kids up. On August 2, Shafner officially applied for flexible work hours that would allow her to leave the office at 3pm to do the school run, and then finish the rest of her work off at home. 

"I would much rather work as best as possible than have to take [carer's] leave for an unknown period of time due to my family obligations," she wrote in the request.

Shafner had been working in the role of executive assistant for just under a year when she filed for flexible work hours. She had also been working for the company through an agency for three years prior to that. The long-time employee claims that when she followed up her flexible work request on August 20, she was called into a meeting and told that her role was being dissolved due to a company "restructure". On September 5, the company informed Shafner that there were no other job openings for her at Amazon and she was fired that day. 

In a court application that was filed in Melbourne this week, Shafner accused Amazon of discrimination and unfair dismissal. The document claims that Amazon broke the law by firing her when they knew she was about to become eligible for carer's leave. It also suggests that the company attempted to pressure Shafner into not requesting flexible work hours by issuing her with a warning when she was absent from work.

"[Amazon] knew that [Ms Shafner] would likely request paid carer's leave in the event a flexible working arrangement was not implemented," the document reads. "[Amazon] knew that [Ms Shafner] would become entitled to request a flexible working arrangement... by about 4 September. The applicant's employment was terminated on 5 September." 

Carer's leave is defined as an essential employee entitlement in the National Employment Standards. Shafner has requested $274,815 in compensation from Amazon for failing to grant her flexible hours, as well as superannuation payments and shares, and compensation for distress, humiliation, suffering and pain. 

So far, Amazon representatives have declined to comment on the case. Both parties will appear before the court for a directions hearing on January 31.

Via The Sydney Morning Herald.

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