Plaintiffs Accuse Amazon of Retaliation After Filing Landmark Equal Pay Class Action Lawsuit

Outten & Golden LLP
February 9, 2024

Female Employees Who Filed the First-Ever Equal Pay Class Action Lawsuit Against Amazon Allege the Company Retaliated Against Them for Coming Forward 

SEATTLE, WA –  Three plaintiffs, who last November filed the first-ever equal pay class action lawsuit against Amazon, filed an amended complaint today alleging that the company has pushed them out for complaining about discrimination. 

Since their initial lawsuit alleging the e-commerce giant systematically underpays female employees compared to men in Washington State and throughout the country, the three women leading the case allege that they have been laid off, forced to resign, or been subjected to heightened scrutiny of their performance. 

“Since coming forward to talk about gender pay equity at Amazon, I was demoted, the 14-member team that I founded and built was stripped from me, my remit and career path were severely diminished, and now I’ve been laid off,” said Caroline Wilmuth, one of the three plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “Despite it all, I’m confident we did the right thing by focusing attention on these issues, and filing this important lawsuit.”

According to the amended complaint, which was filed in the Western District of Washington State, Amazon retaliated against all three plaintiffs after they filed the first-ever equal pay class action suit against the company. Specifically, it alleges that Amazon created disruptive and increasingly hostile conditions for the plaintiffs that were designed to push them out of the company or force them to resign.

“Just last week, Amazon placed me in a performance improvement plan, and gave me the option to quit with a severance package,” said Plaintiff Katherine Schomer. “As I began to consider my future at the company, and the intense and constant scrutiny of my work – it was a clear sign to me that I was no longer wanted. It’s no coincidence that this is happening right now, because of our lawsuit.”

In their initial complaint, the plaintiffs claim that across the company, Amazon has a practice of assigning employees to job codes based on their gender and underpaying women compared to men in the same job level, resulting in Amazon paying women less than their male peers who perform comparable work. Upon reporting the pay discrepancies to their managers and Amazon’s HR department, the plaintiffs allege that they were demoted to lower-paid roles, had their direct reports and key projects removed, received lower performance ratings, and had their stock and compensation reduced. 

“Caroline, Katherine and Erin have collectively worked for Amazon for more than 13 years, and all had stellar track records and performance reviews prior to complaining about discrimination. Their careers at Amazon were really on the rise. It seems that Amazon now wants them, and this examination of the company’s gender pay practices, to disappear,” said Cassandra Lenning, partner at Outten & Golden LLP and attorney for the plaintiffs

“These courageous women brought systemic underpayment of women to Amazon’s attention long ago and tried, with and without legal assistance, to get Amazon to fix its problems,” said Outten & Golden partner Jahan Sagafi, another lawyer for the plaintiffs. “It’s a shame that Amazon didn’t meaningfully engage in that conversation before we had to file this lawsuit.  Now that the litigation is rolling ahead, more and more women are stepping forward to demand fair treatment.  Amazon won’t achieve anything by ignoring or retaliating against Caroline, Katherine and Erin, because this is much bigger than them — it’s a question of fair pay for all women.”

“For nearly four years, I was one of Amazon’s biggest champions and advocates. I was committed to growing my career there, but I felt it was clear that Amazon would never allow that to happen,” said Erin Combs, plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Everyone deserves to pursue a career based on your merit, in an environment free from discrimination, retaliation, and abuse.”

Caroline Wilmuth, Katherine Schomer, and Erin Combs are represented by Cassandra W. Lenning, Jahan C. Sagafi, Menaka N. Fernando, Chauniqua Young, Michael Danna, Lindsay M. Goldbrum, and Jennifer Davidson of Outten & Golden LLP.