Michael Paulk, Staff Writer, 12/12/02

A group of current and former employees of FedEx Corp. in California filed a lawsuit in California this morning claiming racial discrimination and their attorneys say they will seek to certify a national class action suit which could be tried in federal court.

At a morning press conference today in San Francisco, lead attorney for the plaintiffs Waukeen Q. McCoy announced the lawsuit filed in California on behalf of 26 current and former minority employees of FedEx in the Northern California area.

The lawsuit, which does not name the specific level of damages being sought, contends that minority employees at FedEx are treated differently in terms of hiring, disciplinary action and promotion decisions that limited the number of minority managers at the package delivery giant.

The next step is to get the class certified with the courts in California and to serve the company with the lawsuit, McCoy says.

FedEx officials weren’t immediately available for comment.

The plaintiffs in the case the court in California will ask the state courts to determine if they can represent all minorities in the company in the state on the basis of their claims. McCoy says his team will then seek to extend the case to federal court through certification of a similar class on a national level where the case could represent all minority employees at FedEx, whether they have individual complaints or not.

FedEx has often been cited in the media as being one of the best businesses in the country for minorities to work, and lists its minority employee level at about 40%.

The attorneys for the plaintiffs say they believe the case could be one of the larger racial discrimination suits in recent history.

“If this case goes national we think the recovery could be one of the largest, but it could be considered one of the largest because of the size of the company,” says Todd Schneider, another attorney for the group.

McCoy and his co-counsels in the case believe that the alleged problems with FedEx are indicative of the entire company.

“Its not just these employees, its employees nationwide and the investigation is still ongoing,” McCoy says.

McCoy is well-known for his work in a racial discrimination lawsuit against Interstate Brands Corp. where a jury returned a verdict of $133 million in damages against the maker of Wonderbread.

With annual revenues of $20 billion, FedEx is a global provider of transportation, e-commerce and supply-chain management services. The company offers services through a network of subsidiaries operating independently, including FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company; FedEx Ground, North America’s second largest provider of small-package ground delivery service; FedEx Freight, a provider of regional less-than-truckload freight services; FedEx Custom Critical, a provider of expedited, time-critical shipments; and FedEx Trade Networks, a provider of customs brokerage, consulting, information technology and trade facilitation solutions.