FedEx to Pay $3M in Discrimination Case

By Andy Meek

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Patricia Shiu, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, unveiled the details Thursday, March 22, of a $3 million settlement with FedEx Ground related to thousands of workers turned down for jobs over the last several years.

In a conference call with reporters the same morning Memphis-based FedEx reported quarterly earnings, Solis said the company has agreed to pay $3 million in back wages and interest to more than 21,000 workers. They were people who generally had applied for part-time package handler jobs that pay $10 to $15 an hour at nearly two dozen FedEx facilities in 15 states.

“In a critical time when our economic recovery is gaining momentum, this will help ensure hiring is done with the fairness that the law demands,” Solis said.

Of the more than 21,000 job seekers, 61 percent were women and 52 percent were black, according to Shiu, who said this FedEx case has been in the works for seven years. Evidence of the alleged discrimination had turned up in a normal audit her department does, as opposed to it springing from complaints by workers.

A $3 million settlement with FedEx Ground was announced by the U.S. labor secretary Thursday.

“These victims didn’t know they were being discriminated against,” Shiu said, adding “that’s the beauty” of her office. “We can go in and ferret out discrimination people didn’t even know happened. We found all the statistical analysis that shows there was discrimination going on all over the country.

“This was a case I inherited when I first got here, but I was very committed to ensuring we were able to resolve this issue and that FedEx makes significant policy changes. We wanted to make sure those people who were denied jobs … were given some relief, and we are very pleased to announce the settlement today.”

As part of the settlement, FedEx will extend job offers to a little more than 1,700 of the people initially rejected. Shiu told The New York Times Wednesday that her office’s review found discrimination against several minority groups including blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, in addition to women who were sometimes automatically passed over for jobs that required lifting heavy objects.

A FedEx spokesman told media outlets the company admitted no wrongdoing and agreed to pay the $3 million to avoid a drawn-out process. Also, he said the settlement was driven more by a “computer statistical analysis” as opposed to individual complaints from job seekers.

Shiu, however, said there are “lots of different ways one can prove discrimination,” and that something as explicit as “a sign that says African-Americans, women and others need not apply” is not necessarily needed to prove discrimination.

She added that the job seekers affected by this case who submit timely information will be able to seek back pay available as a result of the settlement.