[wiaattorneys] FW: Law.com Article: FedEx, Workers Reach $55 Million Deal on Racial Claims

  • From: "Pomerantz, Jane C. \(GC-LI\)" <jpomerantz@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <wiaattorneys@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 11:21:00 -0400

On the continuing issue of testing. See article below which includes "As
part of the deal, FedEx agreed to stop using its "Basic Skills Test" as
a prerequisite for promoting employees to higher-paid, more desirable
positions."
 
JP
 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: mseiverlin@xxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:mseiverlin@xxxxxxxxxxx] 
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 9:22 AM
To: GC-LEPG@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Law.com Article: FedEx, Workers Reach $55 Million Deal on
Racial Claims


This article from Law.com <http://www.law.com>  has been sent to you by
mseiverlin@xxxxxxxxxxxx



FedEx, Workers Reach $55 Million Deal on Racial Claims
Matthew Hirsch




Attorneys in a major race discrimination class action have reached a
settlement that would force the national shipping company FedEx Corp. to
pay out almost $55 million and overhaul its pay, discipline and
promotions practices.

The suit claimed that FedEx Express, a unit that performs overnight
deliveries, harbored a culture of hostility toward people of color,
allowing racial bias to infect its human resources decisions. If
approved, the settlement would benefit some 20,000 hourly employees and
low-level operations managers who have worked in the company's western
regional facilities since October 1999.

Class counsel, led by James Finberg, a partner at San Francisco's
Altshuler Berzon, hammered out the deal with a defense team led by an
in-house attorney from the FedEx corporate headquarters in Memphis,
Tenn.

A message for that attorney, Jeana Littrell, was returned Tuesday
afternoon by a company spokeswoman who said, "We voluntarily entered
into the consent decree because we believe that this action demonstrates
our deep commitment to diversity and equal employment opportunities." In
the consent decree, FedEx Express also continues to deny that it
practiced discrimination.

With monetary payments of about $54.9 million, Finberg said he believes
the settlement in Satchell v. FedEx Express, 03-2659, would crack the
top 10 discrimination settlements in U.S. courts. That figure includes
$15 million for attorney fees and costs, unspecified claims
administration costs, and up to $360,000 for class representatives and
people who gave declarations, according to a written agreement filed in
court.

But Finberg was more eager to talk Tuesday about the part of the
settlement that will promote equal employment opportunities for FedEx's
black and Latino employees.

"The money is nice, and people deserve to be compensated if they've been
discriminated against. But the injunctive relief will go on for a long
time and benefit people for years to come," he said.

As part of the deal, FedEx agreed to stop using its "Basic Skills Test"
as a prerequisite for promoting employees to higher-paid, more desirable
positions.

Finberg said he could show that only 47 percent of blacks and 62 percent
of Latinos pass the Basic Skills Test, as compared with 86 percent of
white employees.

"So that test is a hurdle, and it's keeping blacks and Latinos from
getting these jobs," he said.

Finberg said the class counsel brought in a UC-Berkeley psychology
professor who determined that the Basic Skills Test is not a valid
measure of success on the job and that FedEx could come up with another
such test to take its place.

Under the proposed settlement, FedEx has also agreed to make its
performance evaluation process less discretionary, while submitting
policy changes to show that its revised practices do not continue to
foster racial discrimination.

Finberg said he hopes the injunctive relief measures prove to be a
"win-win" situation for class members and FedEx.

"Discrimination is not only evil; it's stupid. And I think FedEx, by
embracing this decree, will be a better company," he said.

Northern District of California Judge Susan Illston will hear a motion
for preliminary approval of the settlement on Friday afternoon.

At that time, she will also consider adding Goldstein, Demchak, Baller,
Borgen & Dardarian's Barry Goldstein as class counsel in the case. Until
now, Goldstein has served as a consultant for the class attorneys.

Attorneys at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein and Schneider &
Wallace also represented the class, as did Oakland, Calif., civil rights
attorney John Burris and San Francisco's Waukeen McCoy.

Seyfarth Shaw's Gilmore Diekmann Jr. has been preparing the defense case
for trial, which had been set to begin next month.



http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1176195854483


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