Amazon Asks Court to Toss Diversity Policy Discrimination Suit

On Wednesday, Amazon responded to a class action complaint filed in October alleging that through certain business practices, the e-commerce juggernaut discriminates against heterosexual white males who use its platform to sell wares. The motion to dismiss said that the plaintiff has no standing to level the challenges he brings, and in any event, the company’s practices do not run afoul of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. 

As previously reported, complainant argued that Amazon disenfranchises the aforementioned demographic group while preferring sellers who identify as LGBT, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, and/or female. The man’s complaint alleged that Amazon denied him the full suite of its seller program benefits and services.

“[B]y being lucky enough to possess any one of Amazon’s personal characteristics,” an LGBT, minority, or female billionaire would qualify for Amazon’s policies and programs and the related benefits, “but under no circumstances could a heterosexual white male qualify … even if he is a person of humble, unprivileged means who is simply trying to earn an income to support his family,” the filing summarized.

Amazon’s motion to dismiss notes that the plaintiff never actually sold anything on its platform, a flaw it claims is fatal to his discrimination contention. Without cognizable injury attributable to Amazon’s diversity initiatives, his claims are “nothing more than abstract objections to business practices with which he disagrees,” the filing says. As such, the company asserts that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute.

In addition, Amazon contends that the plaintiff fails to state a claim for violation of the Unruh Act, which prohibits “arbitrary, invidious discrimination” that flies in the face of state and federal policy. The company argues that its programs are consistent with state-driven initiatives encouraging, and even requiring, the kind of diversity efforts Amazon has put forward. Pointing to codified policies similarly buoying minority groups, the motion says Amazon’s practices cannot violate the Unruh Act as a matter of law.

The plaintiff is represented by Greg Adler P.C. and Amazon by Latham & Watkins