Bezos’ Ex-Housekeeper Claims She Had to Climb Out a Window to Use the Bathroom
Jeff Bezos has been hit with a racial discrimination lawsuit from his former housekeeper, who alleges she was subjected to unsafe working conditions that prioritized white workers and violated labor laws.
Now, the former employee wants compensation for allegedly being retaliated against after blowing the whistle.
In a complaint, Mercedes Wedaa claims Bezos and two companies he used to hire domestic workers, Zefram, LLC, and Northwestern, LLC, discriminated against her, a Latina, and made her work long hours without breaks. She also says she was exposed to atrocious working conditions, including going for hours without being able to eat or use the restroom, which resulted in health issues. Wedaa alleges she was also forced to oversee undocumented workers, which made her uncomfortable and prompted her to complain to management.
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“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.”
Wedaa secured the lead housekeeper position in 2019 and was initially the only housekeeper at Bezos’ Seattle home. Over time, Bezos hired additional staff, and she began to manage others, the complaint says. Everyone on the team was Latino, except for one white housekeeper who was hired later.
The complaint says Wedaa and other members of the housekeeping team did not have easy access to a restroom and were not allowed to access the main part of the house while the Bezos family was home. Housekeepers allegedly tried to use the restroom near the security office away from the main house, but were forbidden because it broke “security protocol.”
Out of desperation, housekeepers allegedly used a toilet in the laundry room next to the security office, but had to climb through a window in order to not be seen by Bezos and his guests. Wedaa claims she and other members of her team suffered from urinary tract infections because of their lack of bathroom access.
According to the lawsuit, during her nearly three-year employment, all of Wedaa’s managers were white and demeaned the Latino workers.
Wedaa reported the alleged abusive behavior but was mocked and eventually demoted from her supervisory position, the lawsuit states.
The only white woman she managed at the time ultimately took her place as lead housekeeper.
“[Wedaa]...complained to the Property Manager…that she was being retaliated against because she had complained about no breaks, unsafe work conditions, and about undocumented workers,” the lawsuit states.
The discrimination only became worse after that, she says. Wedaa lost her job, with management claiming she “appeared ‘unhappy,’” which could affect the rest of the team, according to the lawsuit.
“The illegal acts committed by Defendants caused [Wedaa] to suffer economic and non-economic damages, including but not limited to damages for past and future wage and benefits loss, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment in life, and other nonpecuniary losses,” the lawsuit says. “Damages amounts will be proved at court.”
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Bezos’ attorney, Harry Korrell, said in a statement that Wedaa’s labor violation claims “lack merit.”
“We have investigated the claims, and they lack merit. Ms. Wedaa made over six figures annually and was the lead housekeeper,” the statement reads.
“She was responsible for her own break and meal times, and there were several bathrooms and breakrooms available to her and other staff. The evidence will show that Ms. Wedaa was terminated for performance reasons. She initially demanded over $9M, and when the company refused, she decided to file this suit.”
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.”
Wedaa’s attorney told tech outlet GeekWire that she is “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.”
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