His parents died. Then Amazon fired him for seeking time off, a worker's suit alleges

Suhauna Hussain, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

An Amazon worker at a Bakersfield, California, warehouse alleges the company fired him last month for seeking time off to grieve his parents' deaths, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Kern County Superior Court.

Scott Brock, who worked at Amazon's BFL1 fullfillment center, lost both his parents, Mary Massengale Brock and Curtis Harold Brock, in late January, only six days apart, according to the complaint.

When Brock requested three additional days of bereavement leave after his father died, Amazon's human resources department asked to see an obituary. Brock submitted the obituary for both his parents, but on Feb. 2, Amazon denied his request for time off and subsequently terminated his employment, the complaint alleges.

Brock is suing the company for wrongful termination and violating state laws protecting employee leave related to the care of family members and medical conditions.

Assembly Bill 1949, a state law that went into effect Jan. 1, makes it illegal for an employer to refuse to grant a request by an eligible employee to take up to five days of bereavement leave upon the death of certain family members or retaliate against a worker for exercising those rights.

The legislation expanded the California Family Rights Act, a law that guarantees eligible workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for family care and medical leave.


Brock was eligible for such job-protected leave, according to the lawsuit, because he was an Amazon employee for more than a year and worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before the leave.

Amazon disputes that Brock was terminated for requesting bereavement leave.

Brock was terminated as a result of an investigation that found he had threatened a co-worker in violation of Amazon's workplace conduct policy, company spokesperson Alisa Carroll said.

"While we're very sorry for the loss of Mr. Brock's parents, that's unrelated to why he's no longer working at Amazon," Carroll said in an email.


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