David Peregrine was determined to make contributions at Amazon. Two years ago, the Welsh native, then 34 years old, was hired to work as an associate in the Internet giant's warehouse in Swansea, Wales. But when a back injury prevented him from carrying out eight-hour shifts during which he carried up 15 kilos (about 33 pounds) at a time, he eventually was suspended without pay, according to news source Wales Online.
After taking time off to recover from the back injury, in January 2010 Peregrine reportedly agreed to return to work in a less physically taxing role, but found himself having to do the same tasks as before and unable to continue. Amazon then suspended him and Peregrine lodged a grievance. Not long after, he was diagnosed with cancer.
He died in February 2011. On Tuesday, his mother, Ann Peregrine-Davies, 62, appeared before an employment tribunal accusing Amazon of employment discrimination. But on Wednesday, Judge Roger Harper threw out the case, saying Amazon had "no reason to know that the lower back pain was linked to cancer," according to Wales Online.
Having opted against any outside counsel, she had said any proceeds from the trial would have gone to cancer research. (Her son also had a bout of cancer back in 1998, but it went into remission.)
"He knew it was too late to help him, but he just hoped it might help others," she said of the case to Wales Online. "He was not allowed to work at a time which turned out to be very precious and in the end was wasted."
Indeed, Peregrine was running out of money and fell behind on his car insurance payments after he stopped receiving his paychecks from Amazon, according to Welsh media reports. In his mother's view, Amazon failed to comply with the British Disability Discrimination Act. "David was disabled, Amazon had knowledge of this and there was a duty for them to make reasonable adjustments."
For its part, Amazon said through its lawyer before the case that it never discriminated against Peregrine.
"When David was sent home it was pending the results of the MRI scan," Amazon's lawyer Melanie Tether told the website, This Is South Wales. "He had pain doing very little work.... There was no role which could have been given to David which would have removed the disadvantage caused by his back problem."
Amazon has been previously accused of mistreating workers at its warehouses, which number 69 worldwide. As AOL Jobs reported in April, Amazon was sued in 2011 in a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania by former warehouse worker Paul Grady, who said that he was instructed by his superiors to tell doctors that a hip injury was a pre-existing condition when in fact it was a work-related injury. He has since settled with Amazon for undisclosed terms.
His case was first reported by the Allentown Morning Call, which also said that Amazon had a practice of keeping ambulances standing by in the event a worker needed to be rushed to a hospital. And the reason for this policy? The extreme temperatures sometimes reached inside Amazon warehouses.
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