Amazon Under Fire for Alleged Violation of Illinois Genetic Privacy Law
Thompson et al. v. Amazon.com, Inc. et al.
Filed: March 3, 2023 ◆§ 2023CH02162
A class action claims Amazon.com and two subsidiaries have violated privacy law by requesting that job applicants and employees disclose their family medical histories for the purpose of making hiring decisions.
Amazon.com, Inc. Amazon.com Services, LLC Amazon Services, LLC
A proposed class action claims Amazon.com and two subsidiaries have “repeatedly” violated an Illinois privacy law by requesting that job applicants and employees disclose their family medical histories for the purpose of making hiring decisions.
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The 16-page lawsuit says that, as part of their hiring processes, Amazon.com, Amazon.com Services, LLC and Amazon Services, LLC have collected prospective and current employees’ family medical histories in direct violation of the Illinois Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA), which prohibits employers from asking about or using genetic information—including an individual’s family medical history—to make employment decisions.
According to the suit, the companies have “improperly” used medical history data to “[evaluate] the risk” that an employee may be predisposed to or have inherited a genetic condition that could become a liability in the future.
The defendants seek to “avoid risk and/or liability for workplace injuries and/or deaths caused by genetic conditions” that they believe could be “exacerbated by workplace conditions, especially if these conditions are high-stress and/or physically demanding,” the case alleges.
The plaintiffs, Illinois residents and current or former Amazon employees, were reportedly asked to provide their family medical histories to the defendants as part of the hiring process and to further a “workplace wellness program,” the complaint relays.
One plaintiff, who applied for an op operator position in August 2022, was required to undergo a pre-employment physical during which she was asked to disclose her family medical history, which she provided, the filing says. The two other plaintiffs, who applied to be stowers in February and December 2021, were required to do the same, the suit shares. As the case tells it, none of the plaintiffs authorized the Amazon companies to use their genetic information in any capacity.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone who, since March 3, 2018, applied for employment with or were employed by the defendants in Illinois, and from whom the companies requested or obtained genetic information, including family medical history, in connection with employment or the application for employment.
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