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Fired Amazon Delivery Drivers Allege Racial Discrimination In Lawsuit

A United Parcel Service driver delivers packages from Amazon in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, June 30, 2011. (Paul Sakuma/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
A United Parcel Service driver delivers packages from Amazon in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, June 30, 2011. (Paul Sakuma/AP)

Six former Amazon delivery drivers are suing the company in Suffolk Superior Court, saying their firings amount to racial discrimination by the tech giant.

The drivers say they lost their jobs in 2016 because of old, minor offenses that Amazon had previously been willing to overlook. They claim a change in Amazon's background check policy disproportionately affected minority workers.

In a statement, Amazon said, “We have a longstanding practice of not commenting on pending litigation. That said, safety and customer trust are our top priorities, which is why we have always required delivery service providers to conduct comprehensive background checks for their employee drivers. The background check process is focused on job related criminal and motor vehicle convictions and does not consider race, gender, ethnicity, religion or other protected characteristics.”

The drivers filed complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination last year.

Oren Sellstrom, an attorney for the drivers, said in an interview that background checks can have built-in biases, even if they are ostensibly race-blind.

"It's essentially importing the unfair racial disparities in the criminal justice system into the employment process," he said.

The drivers hope a judge will grant their suit class-action status.

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Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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