The family of a deceased man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Amazon in the New York Supreme Court. The suit claims that Amazon acted negligently in providing disability compensation, which they allege led to his death. The 53-year-old former employee died in November 2016 at his home of a heart attack.
The deceased man was hired in 2015 to work for Amazon as a Senior Human Resource Business Analysis. In 2016, the man disclosed to human resources that he had HIV. The virus made it necessary for him to use the restroom often and to regularly change his clothes. Because of these issues, the man's doctor recommended that he work from home for several months until the symptoms were under control. Several weeks later, he slipped and fell in his shower at home, which caused an injury that made it work difficult. He then filed for short-term disability as a result of the injury. Amazon's short-term disability plan gives employees a leave of absence and continued benefits.
Amazon granted a short-term disability from February to April 2016. Amazon then claimed that there wasn't sufficient medical evidence to continue short-term disability, and the benefits ceased. The man allegedly became depressed as a result of the loss of benefits and his medical concerns, which ultimately led to his death. The complaint alleges that Amazon is responsible for the man's death because the company didn't provide the contractual disability benefits as promised.
Businesses have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace and business for both employees and customers who frequent the business. When an individual becomes hurt while on the property of the business, the business may be responsible for paying actual and punitive damages due to premises liability. In this case, Amazon reportedly did not honor contractual benefits as promised to the employee. A lawyer may be able to show that not providing these benefits led to the wrongful death of the former employee, and the company may be held responsible for damages to the family.
Source: Geek Wire, "Amazon sued by the family of a deceased employee claiming wrongful death and discrimination", Monica Nickelsburg, 11/29/2018