One would assume working diligently at a job would lead to good favor. This wasn’t the case for Jennifer Harris.
Harris was an employee at FedEx starting in 2007. She was onboarded as an account executive and her performance led her to scale within the company, Atlanta Black Star reports.
“I worked really hard, was extremely successful, I was moved and promoted six times and moved and promoted into leadership and held three leadership positions at the district sales manager level,” Harris said, according to Atlanta Black Star.
Harris was believed to be faring well at FedEx, until she claims her white supervisor suggested she take a demotion on March 8, 2019.
The lawsuit claims the supervisor asked for Harris to “step down to a lower position because she was ‘so good’ at what she was doing.”
She alleges her race played a part in her treatment.
The lawsuit also mentioned “when Harris declined to be demoted, the negative treatment escalated” and Harris’ supervisor removed some of her commissions. It was after Harris complained to human resources, that her supervisor issued a “Letter of Counseling for unacceptable performance on June 26, 2019, without a documented discussion as required by FedEx’s policies.”
“In June is when they followed up with their results of the investigation and then, 23 days later, I’m given a letter of counseling and within my 12-year career, I’ve never been written up so to me that was blatant retaliation,” Harris said, according to Atlanta Black Star.
Harris also claims she received poor performance reviews and had reasoning to believe the retaliation was turning into an ongoing issue. Harris then says she took her concerns to company executives.
“Then I raised awareness to the VP and the SVP and that is what created an HR complaint so they could do an HR investigation which they claim they did but it was obvious that all of the investigations they did were sham investigations,” Harris said, according to Atlanta Black Star.
By the top of 2020, Harris claims she found herself out of the job after she presented her concerns. Then, she pushed ahead and filed a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the company on May 20, 2021.
“Unfair treatment to my peer group… rules that didn’t standardly apply… there were loopholes made to sabotage me, to make it falsely appear that I wasn’t performing,” Harris said, according to Action News 5.
Fortunately for Harris, her claims were validated by a Texas jury on Oct. 25.
Although FedEx was not found guilty on the claims of discrimination, the judge did award over $360 million in damages.
“The jury obviously wanted to send a message to FedEx: change your ways,” said Attorney Brian Sanford, according to Action News 5.
FedEx is looking to appeal the verdict.
“We strongly disagree with the verdict and will appeal. FedEx does not engage in or tolerate retaliation. We followed our protocols for performance management with Mr. Harris and are confident that we acted properly regarding her termination,” FedEx said in a statement, according to Atlanta Black Star.