Amazon Presses Court to Reject Third-Party Seller Race Discrimination Case

Amazon has had the final word before a San Diego, Calif. court, asking for dismissal of a discrimination case brought by a heterosexual white male who argued that the e-commerce company unfairly favors select groups. Monday’s reply brief asserts that, incapable of rebutting Amazon’s legal arguments, the plaintiff merely repeats allegations made in his complaint.

The California man filed suit in October 2021, arguing that he could not fairly participate on Amazon’s platform because its policies aid only sellers identifying as LGBTQ+, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, and/or female. He seeks to represent a class of similarly situated sellers and relief from state and federal discrimination law violations.

Amazon moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that it lacks legal merit. Among other contentions, the company argued that the plaintiff has no constitutional standing because he had not sold anything on Amazon as a third-party seller and therefore could not allege injury. Last month, the plaintiff refuted those arguments in his opposition.

Now, and with the benefit of the plaintiff’s opposing arguments, Amazon says it is clear that the complaint cannot survive dismissal. The plaintiff “is eager to argue about anything except the legal issues presented by Amazon’s motion to dismiss,” according to the reply brief.

Amazon reiterates that it does not prevent any seller from using its e-commerce platform on the basis of their race, sexual orientation, or gender. Instead, its initiatives reportedly “help customers access a diverse range of sellers.”

Turning to the merits, the reply asserts that the plaintiff has not rebutted Amazon’s Article III standing contention. His only argument rests on “readily distinguishable” precedent, the brief stated.

Additionally, his California Unruh Act claim reportedly fails in substance. “Amazon’s efforts to foster a diversity of choice are specifically and expressly encouraged by numerous provisions of California and federal law,” the reply said. 

The plaintiff allegedly cherry-picks provisions which he claims buoy his contention that Amazon’s practices violate public policy. Not so, the company replies, arguing that they actually support Amazon’s initiatives. Furthermore, the plaintiff does not and cannot rebut myriad other state and federal provisions cited by Amazon in its motion to dismiss because “California and federal policy clearly encourage Amazon to do precisely what it is doing.”

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