The family of a former Amazon employee in Seattle is accusing the company of failing to provide adequate medical leave for the man and ultimately causing him to die of a stress-induced heart attack.
Ronald Ashley’s family has filed a $6.5 million wrongful death lawsuit against the company.
Ashley, 53, was a senior IT manager working in the Seattle headquarters with a salary of around $150,000 in 2015. However, one day on a business trip, Ronald fell in a hotel shower and suffered a bad spinal injury.
After three months of medical leave, the senior analyst, who already had health complications from being HIV positive, asked for an extension. Ashley even offered to continue to work from home, but the company denied his requests, reported the Daily Mail.
Once the three months were over, Amazon cut off his disability pay and expected him to return to work. Meanwhile, complications from the injury exacerbated Ashley’s HIV.
By 2016, Ronald was experiencing financial hardship and faced eviction after months of unpaid rent. Eventually, Ashley fell into a “crippling depression,” the suit says.
“He didn't tell our family that he was struggling financially because he was a very proud person,” his younger brother, Dwayne, told the Daily Mail.
“When his savings started to run out the stress started to mount, and it led to the decline of his mental state,” Dwayne added. “Ron started to isolate himself from the family. That was not like him at all, he was very close to us. He didn't come home for Thanksgiving, which was odd because he always cooked for the family.”
Although Ashley appealed Amazon’s decision to end his disability multiple times, he was never successful. In November 2017, he died of a heart attack. Last year, his family filed the lawsuit.
“[The neglect shows] the bureaucratic mess at Amazon as a result of the company’s rapid expansion. Due to its fast development this corporate gargantuan is unable to keep pace with the imperative requests made by its employees,” the suit says.
Dwayne said his brother had always been a loyal employee who was wronged by the powerful company.
“[Amazon] did not give [Ronald] the benefits he was due. This was a dedicated employee,” Dwayne said.
The bereaved family were hit with worse news when Ronald's older brother also died of a heart attack a year later, which the family believes was brought on by grief.
“I'm furious. He needed this disability pay when he was living, and now he's dead. This has been so hurtful to me and my family,” Dwayne told DailyMailTV.
While Amazon has not commented on the suit, a rep did say, “Amazon follows all federal, state and local laws.”
(Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)