Although lawyers for the 26 workers filed the suit in Alameda County (California) Superior Court, the lawyers say they eventually hope to move the case to US District Court and get it classified as a class action so they can represent thousands of minority FedEx workers nationwide, an Associated Press report said.
The latest allegations involve eight of FedEx’s San Francisco Bay area locations and a Bakersfield operation, but the plaintiff lawyers say their interviews with several hundred FedEx workers indicate minority employees throughout the company are suffering the same problems.
The complaint alleges an “ol’ boys network” of mostly white male managers bypassed deserving minorities for promotions and conspired to prevent minorities from getting the same pay and benefits as whites in similar jobs, according to the AP.
The Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx denied the allegations contained in the 189-page suit. “We do not tolerate racial discrimination of any sort,” FedEx spokeswoman Sandra Munoz told the AP.
About 40% of the company’s 117,000 workers nationwide are minorities, according to FedEx. Thursday’s suit alleges most of them are stuck in low-paying, grueling jobs.
FedEx said more than 30% of its management jobs are held by minorities. The attorneys pursuing the suit say fewer than 10% of FedEx’s minority workers hold management positions.
The current and former FedEx employees suing the company include 20 blacks.
FedEx said its rigid internal controls prevent managers from mistreating workers. The process, which FedEx calls its “Guaranteed Fair Treatment Program,” typically gives a rank-and-file employee the benefit of the doubt in a dispute with a manager, Munoz said.