Would-Be Amazon Seller Opposes Company’s MTD in Racial Discrimination Suit

The San Diego, California man who sued Amazon over its allegedly unfair and exclusive race, sex, and sexual orientation-based treatment of sellers’ accounts, has fired back at the company’s bid to dismiss the case. His opposition says that Amazon mischaracterizes the complaint and makes several ineffective arguments, some of which border on unethical.

The lawsuit was filed last October and principally claimed that Amazon denied the plaintiff the full suite of its seller program benefits and services owing to the fact that he does not qualify as one of the company’s allegedly favored groups: LGBT, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, and/or female. He stated federal and state discrimination law claims and sought relief on behalf of a class of similarly situated Amazon sellers or prospective Amazon sellers.

The company sought to dismiss the case, arguing, among other things, that the plaintiff never actually sold anything on its platform, a fact that renders him ineligible to sue. Amazon also defended on grounds that it policy promotes diversity instead of inflicting “invidious” discrimination in violation of California’s Unruh Act.

This week’s opposition first claims that Amazon mischaracterizes the suit as merely affecting heterosexual White males when in fact it impacts a much wider swath of people. “It is imperative that members of those groups are not forgotten here,” the opposition says.

The plaintiff also asserts that Amazon cannot duck Unruh Act liability on the basis that the public policy exception applies. The filing notes that Amazon cannot invoke the exception as the complaint and judicially noticed material does not support a finding that its programs actually foster diversity. The opposition further explains that both California and Federal courts “routinely reject purported public policy exceptions to antidiscrimination laws,” in view of their compelling agenda to eradicate discrimination. 

Additionally, Amazon’s argument that the plaintiff lacks constitutional standing “shockingly” fails to disclose leading Ninth Circuit authority directly relevant to the instant case and adverse to Amazon’s position, the opposition says. The plaintiff argues that he has standing based on the holding in White v. Square Inc. and its state analogue purportedly extending standing to aggrieved website visitors under California law.

The motion to dismiss hearing is scheduled for June 3.

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