A housekeeper who cleaned Jeff Bezos' Seattle mansion for three years is suing the billionaire over allegations of racial discrimination and poor working conditions.
Mercedes Wedaa, who as "lead housekeeper" supervised 5–6 other housekeepers for Bezos, claimed in her lawsuit that she was forced "to work long hours [10–14 hours a day] without rest or meal breaks," was "exposed to unsafe and unsanitary work conditions," and, because she was not allowed inside the main house when the Bezos family was at home, usually had no easily accessible toilet to use, causing health issues.
"For about 18 months, in order to use a bathroom, [the] plaintiff and other housekeepers were forced to climb out of the laundry room window to the outside. Then run along the path to the mechanical room, through the mechanical room and downstairs to a bathroom," the lawsuit says.
From The Guardian:
[Wedaa] claimed in a lawsuit filed in Seattle state court that she and other hispanic cleaning staff were treated differently to white staff.
She claims that Bezos's household manager "became aggressive and abusive" towards her while being "respectful and polite" towards white groundskeepers. …
Wedaa, who first started working at Bezos's home in 2019, said she was regularly required to work for 10 to 14 hours without lunch or rest breaks if Bezos and his family were "in residence".
The lawsuit claims that there was no dedicated break room or rest area and that Wedaa and other household staff would regularly eat in the laundry room.
The lawsuit claims that because Wedaa and other housekeepers "had to spend large parts of their day unable to use the toilet", they frequently developed urinary tract infections.
A lawyer for Bezos calls her claim of racial discrimination "absurd" and says her allegations "lack merit."
Here is the full statement from Bezos' lawyer, Harry Korrell:
"We have investigated the claims, and they lack merit. Ms. Wedaa made over six figures annually and was the lead housekeeper. She was responsible for her own break and meal times, and there were several bathrooms and breakrooms available to her and other staff. The evidence will show that Ms. Wedaa was terminated for performance reasons. She initially demanded over $9M, and when the company refused, she decided to file this suit. Given their backgrounds, the suggestion that Mr. Bezos, Ms. Sanchez, or Northwestern LLC discriminated against Ms. Wedaa based on her race or national origin is absurd."]