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Black Amazon manager says she was compared to ‘gorilla’

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Black Amazon manager says she was compared to 'gorilla'

A black manager at Amazon alleges a coworker once said she “looked like a gorilla” in a new lawsuit accusing the company of “systemic” racial and gender discrimination.

Charlotte Newman sued the company in D.C. federal court Monday, saying she first felt discriminated against when she was hired in 2016 at a lower position than the one she applied and was qualified for.

Within months, Newman — a public policy manager at Amazon Web Services — was given the responsibilities of the higher position, but she wasn’t officially promoted with a pay raise until two years later, the court documents allege.

“Like so many other Black and female employees at Amazon, Charlotte Newman was confronted with a systemic pattern of insurmountable discrimination based upon the color of her skin and her gender,” the suit charges.

This is part of a larger pattern that the company has of hiring black and other minorities people for jobs below what they applied for and will actually be performing, the court documents allege.

Minority employees take longer to get promoted, have fewer positions in the higher levels of the company and not a single black person in the top leadership team, the court papers claim.

Black employees also get less shares in company stocks meaning they can miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as stock prices go up, the suit claims.

“Many of Ms. Newman’s colleagues observed a consistent practice of paying Black employees less than similarly situated white employees, and a near-total lack of Black representation in and very few women in the upper echelons of the group’s leadership,” the suit charges.

The culture fostered an environment where a coworker on a business trip in November 2019 told her “Oh my god, you like like a gorilla” when Newman was trying on a black jacket while out shopping with the colleague, the court papers allege.

Newman confronted the employee, and the person later apologized for the inappropriate comment, the suit says.

Newman’s supervisor also “used stereotypical racial tropes when criticizing her about how she speaks in meetings, calling her ‘aggressive,’ ‘too direct,’ and (shockingly) ‘just scary,’” the suit charges.

Newman also alleges she was sexually harassed and assaulted by a senior coworker in January 2018 while at a restaurant with a third employee — when the man put his hand on her lap under the table “close to her genitalia” and also grabbed and groped her upper thigh, the suit says.

Later that night, the man asked Newman to “go home with him to have sex,” the court papers charge.

Another time, the same colleague also “yanked on” her long braids when she was leaving a work gathering at a bar “telling her to stay or leave her hair behind — a particular insult for a black woman,” the court documents allege.

Newman reported the mistreatment to the company’s human resources department, but it didn’t update her or help any further, the suit claims.

In September 2019, Newman and other “demoralized” coworkers wrote a letter to Amazon on how to make the workplace more equitable for minorities, but the company hasn’t still hasn’t put any of the suggestions into place, the court documents claim.

While Amazon has released statements saying it supports the fight for social justice, including one it released after George Floyd’s death, “Behind closed doors, Amazon and its leadership are more focused on attacking black workers who speak up — and managing the public relations (‘PR’) fallout — than on addressing the conditions that led black employees to protest and file legal claims,” the suit charges.

“Sadly, despite its emphasis on innovation, Amazon still treats Black employees like second-class citizens by shutting them out of high-level corporate roles, paying them less than similarly situated white employees, and dismissing their concerns about equity and safety,” Newman’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, said in at statement.

Newman is suing Amazon, Amazon Web Services, Inc. and other employees for unspecified damages.

Amazon and AWS did not immediately return requests for comment.

Amazon has recently become embroiled in a court battle with New York Attorney General’s office last month, which sued the e-commerce giant over an alleged lack of safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to that case, Amazon sued the AG’s office, claiming its probe — which was prompted after Staten Island worker Chris Smalls protested working conditions during the pandemic — was an overstep of power.

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Soho House club chain reportedly files for New York IPO

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Soho House club chain reportedly files for New York IPO

Soho House — the London-based group of posh private clubs — is planning to go public across the pond, a new report says.

The British company filed confidential paperwork with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange at a valuation of more than $3 billion, the UK’s Sky News reported Thursday.

The filing comes about three years after the iconic chain last mulled plans for an IPO in 2018, according to reports from the time.

The latest bid has been in the works since at least February, when The Times of London reported that Soho House had hired Wall Street stalwarts JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley as it looked to take advantage of the frothy US stock market.

The company raised a batch of private funding last summer but decided to pursue more capital through the public market as it expands, according to Sky News.

Soho House declined to comment Thursday.

Soho House runs 27 clubs in 10 countries, including three in New York City, along with event venues and a group of co-working spaces dubbed “Soho Works.

The chain’s business has reportedly held up through the coronavirus crisis. Just about 10,000 of its 110,000 members — whose ranks include Prince Harry and supermodel Kate Moss — canceled their memberships even as the pandemic shuttered its venues, the Financial Times reported last year.

While Soho House shares its name with the London neighborhood where its first club opened in 1995, the company is mostly owned by billionaire American investor Ron Burkle.

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Elon Musk says he supports COVID vaccines after questioning safety

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Elon Musk says he supports COVID vaccines after questioning safety

Tesla chief Elon Musk expressed support for COVID-19 vaccines despite previously raising questions about their safety and saying he wouldn’t get the jab himself.

The world’s second-richest man tried to clear up his vaccine views on Twitter after drawing ire last month for his vocal skepticism about two-dose regimens.

“To be clear, I do support vaccines in general & covid vaccines specifically,” Musk tweeted Wednesday. “The science is unequivocal.”

The 49-year-old electric-car tycoon sparked controversy last month by saying there was “some debate” about the safety of the second of two shots people must get to complete their Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations.

Musk claimed there had been “quite a few negative reactions” to the second doses as he encouraged elderly and immunocompromised people to take the vaccines.

While allergic reactions to Pfizer’s vaccine have been more frequent after the second dose than the first, they’re still rare overall with just 4.5 incidents reported for every million doses administered, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show.

Musk acknowledged Wednesday that allergic reactions happen “in very rare cases,” adding that they’re “easily addressed with an EpiPen.”

In September, the Tesla “Technoking” told The New York Times that neither he nor his family would get a vaccine because “I’m not at risk for COVID, nor are my kids.”

Musk ended up contracting what he called a “moderate case” of the virus in November, comparing his symptoms to a “minor cold.”

In response to a Twitter reply, Musk indicated that he decided not to get a vaccine because someone else could benefit more from the shot given that he already had some immunity to COVID.

Last month wasn’t the first time Musk has stoked controversy with his opinions on the pandemic.

He wrongly predicted last year that there would be “probably close to zero new cases” in the US by the end of April 2020 and called coronavirus lockdown measures “fascist” after fighting to keep Tesla’s California factory open.

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744,000 filed in stubborn increase

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744,000 filed in stubborn increase

The number of workers seeking unemployment benefits stubbornly jumped again last week even amid hopes that the labor market was getting back on track, the feds said Thursday.

Last week’s 744,000 initial jobless claims brought the total for the COVID-19 pandemic to about 79 million — a number more than triple the size of North Korea’s population.

New filings have ticked up for two consecutive weeks after dropping below the pre-coronavirus record of 695,000 in mid-March.

The latest total once again defied the predictions of economists, who expected 690,000 claims last week as vaccinations added fuel to the nation’s economic reopening, according to Wrightson ICAP.

“The biggest reason to temper optimism is a negative turn in the course of the pandemic, including new variants” of the coronavirus, Bloomberg economist Eliza Winger said.

Weekly jobless claims have bounced up and down in recent weeks while struggling to stay below the pre-pandemic record after a year of painfully high readings.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out the volatility, also ticked up to 723,750 a week after reaching its lowest level since March 2020, when the pandemic first gutted the American economy.

The latest US Department of Labor data came a week after a blowout jobs report that showed the economy adding 916,000 jobs in March.

“To put this week’s level of claims in perspective, a year ago this shocking number topped 6 million,” said Mark Hamick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate. “It wasn’t until August that it consistently stayed below 1 million. So, we’ve come a long way, but we still have a way to go to return to pre-pandemic levels.”

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