A FedEx Office employee who worked at the company for more than two decades sued his employer, claiming that FedEx fired him specifically because he was performing jury duty. (Read the lawsuit below)
Federal law prohibits employers from firing, threatening, intimidating, or coercing any permanent employee who performs jury service.
What makes this lawsuit particularly disturbing is that FedEx not only derives substantial profits from serving the legal community’s document and technology needs, but that the company itself has benefitted directly from America’s jury system.
According to the lawsuit, plaintiff Tom Gates worked at Fedex for more than 20 years, and that for the last ten years, he managed the retail operation at 100 Wall Street in lower Manhattan (inset) in New York City.
When Gates informed his supervisor, District Manager Tafsir Mbodje, the complaint alleges, “Tafsir told him to ‘lie’ to the Court and falsely state that he was a racist so that he would ‘get out of’ jury duty.”
When Gates refused to lie and commit perjury, things reportedly got worse. Mbodje allegedly reprimanded him, gave him warnings, and refused to let him delegate work to his colleague running the FedEx location’s operations while Gates was performing his jury service.
The lawsuit states that Mbodje placed Gates on administrative leave on April 6, 2011 — his last day of jury service — and fired him 12 days later.
Dozens of state Bars give lawyers discounts on FedEx services, including the New York State Bar Association.
Moreover, FedEx has benefitted directly from juror duty. An April 1, 2009 FedEx press release praised a Washington state jury for returning a verdict in its favor for dismissed a class action lawsuit by FedEx Ground independent contractors seeking overtime wages.
One New York State judge I know regularly tells jury panels how much the court, the litigants, and the attorneys value their service. “Short of going to war for your country,” the judge tells them, “serving on a jury is probably the most important service that you can perform for your country.”
FedEx may know learn this the hard way.
Read the allegations in the complaint below, and track the case docket here.