FedEx Agrees to Pay $3 Million to Settle a Discrimination Case
The United States Department of Labor has reached a $3 million settlement with the ground delivery unit of FedEx to resolve allegations that the company discriminated against 21,635 job seekers at two dozen FedEx facilities in 15 states.
The Labor Department reached the agreement with FedEx Ground Package Systems after saying it had found evidence of discrimination in hiring on the basis of sex, race and national origin. The office monitors employment practices at the nation’s 200,000 federal contractors, which employ roughly one-fourth of the nation’s work force.
Under the settlement, department officials said Wednesday, FedEx has agreed to make wide-ranging changes to correct any discriminatory hiring practices and to extend job offers to 1,703 of the rejected workers as positions become available.
Patricia A. Shiu, director of the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, said it was her office’s largest settlement since 2004, when it reached a $5.5 million settlement with Wachovia Corporation after asserting that more than 2,000 of the bank’s female workers had been underpaid.
“When you do business with the government, we expect you to do the right thing,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in a statement. “That includes giving all Americans an equal shot at a good job. It’s about more than just the law — diversity is smart for business.”Patrick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for FedEx Ground, said the company believed that the Labor Department’s position was not supported by the law.
“The bottom line is we admitted no wrongdoing,” he said. “The allegations and the whole drive for the settlement were based on a computer statistical analysis, rather than on any individual complaints or investigation.”
He added, “We agreed to the $3 million to avoid what would have been a prolonged and much more costly resolution process.”
Ms. Shiu said her office first uncovered evidence of discrimination at FedEx seven years ago during a regularly scheduled review, finding discrimination against blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and Native Americans compared with similarly situated white applicants. She said women also faced discrimination and were sometimes automatically ruled out for positions requiring the lifting of heavier objects even when they could have handled such objects.
Ms. Shiu said “the beauty” of the 4,000 regular audits her office does each year was that they could find evidence of discrimination even when people have not filed complaints and did not realize they had faced discrimination.
She said that of the 21,635 rejected applicants covered by the settlement, 61 percent were female, 52 percent African American, 14 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian and 1 percent Native American.