Dane Lane and Allegra Schawe-Lane applied to work at an Amazon warehouse in northern Kentucky in October, 2014.
Amazon Studios recently produced "Transparent", a film featuring a transgender protagonist, and has supported transgender rights in other court cases, noted Jillian Weiss, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund executive director.
Amazon declined to respond to the allegations, saying in an email, "We have a practice of not commenting on active litigation". Schawe-Lane said he initially wanted to get a job at Amazon because of its LGBT-friendly reputation, as well as its policy prohibiting sexual and gender discrimination.
"We have a company that touts its transgender friendliness", Weiss said.
Dane Lane says they're suing because they want justice. "Every day, I'd wish it was "Candid Camera" and someone would pop out and say it was all a joke". The warehouse improperly calculated her hours worked, resulting in lost wages, and refused to correct their work when she complained.
Two months before resigning, they filed discrimination charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The couple is seeking damages, the amount of which will be determined by the judge if the case proceeds, as well as new programs to address how to respectfully treat transgender employees. The Freedom Award is for "extraordinary contributions to the advancement of transgender rights".
The lawsuit says Amazon violated Kentucky and federal laws banning discrimination based on sex in the workplace.
Management also participated in the harassment, refusing to use Schawe-Lane's first name and instead using her first name from before she transitioned, which they also printed on her ID badge.
Aside from their experience at Amazon, the couple said they generally feel accepted in their community and have no desire to leave Kentucky.
They quit Amazon in 2015 after the incidents took place.