California Labor Law: Is FedEx Heartless?

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Placentia, CA Sylvia says that she was terminated from FedEx for entering her time card incorrectly. Sylvia’s employer likely has not violated the California labor law and she would be hard-pressed to file a California labor lawsuit. But Sylvia insists that she was wrongfully terminated.

California’s Labor Code states that an employment relationship with no specified duration is presumed to be employment “at-will.” In theory, this means that the employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. But it isn’t black and white. The at-will rule created by statute, the courts or public policy has exceptions. An employer can terminate a worker at will and, as long as it isn’t for the “wrong” reason, they won’t violate the California labor code.

In Sylvia’s case, she was fired for “stealing” from the company, although that accusation is quite a stretch. One employment attorney says that he has heard from employees whose employer accused them of stealing. Even though the employees had proven that someone else stole, the employer is still within rights to terminate that employee because it is not unlawful or “wrongful” termination.

“I was hired by FedEx in 2006 as lead project coordinator and my job was to make sure FedEx orders were delivered correctly - I had to catch all and any errors,” says Sylvia. “Everything was going well until about eight months on the job, when I had an argument with my assistant manager about child care. He threatened me by saying that if I left work to pick up my daughter from daycare I wouldn’t have a job when I returned.”

Sylvia scrambled and managed to get a friend to pick up her daughter, but she then found herself working in a hostile environment. She called her district manager and asked for a transfer: if she couldn’t be transferred, her only alternative was to resign.

“Thankfully I was transferred to another FedEx location but I had to work nights. My district manager, however, promised me that I would only have to work the night shift for one year. Two years later I was still working nights so I reminded my supervisor about the promise and that I couldn’t work nights anymore. Their solution: my hours were decreased from a regular 40-hour week to seven hours per week.”

Sylvia believes they were forcing her into resigning because of the daycare issue. She wrote a letter to HR explaining that she had to step down from her job as project coordinator. Apparently that seemed to work - she was transferred to another location and worked full time again. “Everything was working well and I got promoted two years later to assistant manager,” Sylvia adds. Six months later I was promoted to center manager and all was good for 18 months: I had nothing but great reviews and no write-ups.”

All was good at work, but Sylvia’s home life was another story. She filed for divorce after a 20-year marriage and became clinically depressed. Her doctor prescribed anti-depressants; Sylvia says the meds made her very forgetful and she found it difficult to function.

“I had an appointment with my doctor to get a different kind of medication and forgot to clock out,” Sylvia explains. “That day, my doctor said I had to get out of work on disability or I would have a nervous breakdown. So I went out for 24 days. Three days after I returned to work, I was fired! My supervisor told me that I entered the wrong information on my time card and another time I opened the center late; in other words, I made a few mistakes. The day I was fired I took an additional pill by accident and blacked out.”

Sylvia explained her problem to the district manager and he put her on administrative leave for two weeks. But a month later she was still waiting to return to work.

While she was waiting to come back, not knowing when she could return, and no communication whatsoever, Sylvia received an email saying, ‘We are committed to a full investigation for your sake and the company and when we are ready we will call you.’

“I went back to work and gave them a letter from my doctor saying I should take another few weeks off,” says Sylvia. “They called me three days later and fired me on December 14, 2012.”

Sylvia says she applied for unemployment benefits but FedEx is disputing that, with the excuse that she entered the wrong information on her time cards and in effect stole from the company.

“My doctor’s note says the side effects from my meds could be memory loss but they don’t care,” Sylvia says, crying. “I think they are heartless.

“I appealed my termination and just today they said I wasn’t getting my job back, regardless of my medication excuse. They also said that I was a center manager and should know better. I have one more appeal, which will go to the vice president of FedEx this week. The VP is supposed to look at my entire file and talk to the district manager who fired me. So if that doesn’t work, I will seek help from an employment attorney.”

LawyersandSettlements has contacted FedEx HR and is waiting for a reply.

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6 Comments

  1. Mike
    February 1, 2015
    They are heartless. The method used to fire someone there doesn't care how good of an employee you are. You can be the most amazing employee for 25 year but if you have 1 bad year and get three disciplinary letters within that year they won't even try and help you out. No options to transfer elsewhere in the company. No consideration of the quality of service you gave over all. They don't care. Three letters and you are out. It is a very cold and very heartless system with a high rate of turn over. People are fired from the company every day just because they moved up into a position they weren't ready for. They even go as far as work against you on investigations and do everything they can to make the accident or mishap your fault so you will get a letter. You have to watch your back when working for FedEx. You are nothing more than a tool to them.
  2. Charles
    April 26, 2014
    Seems to me both of these are winnable lawsuits.
  3. Ralph Ashton jr
    January 1, 2014
    Wrongfully termination by FedEx Since being employed at the FedEx station of Lakeland, Florida I have been discriminated against, harassed, bullied and defamed by FedEx operations manager. After going through the proper FedEx channels to prove my innocence I was ignored, was not given due process according to FedEx’s own policy and procedure manuals and was subsequently wrongly terminated when I have done nothing wrong. On March 1, 2012 I received a disciplinary warning letter stating I had committed an unsafe act by having my work vehicles bulkhead door open while parked at a customer location for a package pickup and that I was in direct violation of P-16 in the Best Practice company policy manual, This incident was on February 27, 2012. The Policy clearly states that the violation of corporate safety regulations is “Failure to have the driver-side sliding door or the bulkhead door closed when the vehicle is in motion” At a hearing conducted by the state of Florida unemployment the manager acknowledged the vehicle was not in motion, but stationary and the letter of reprimand was still issued. On June 5, 2012 I received another disciplinary warning letter for other alleged company policy violations I was said to have committed on June 1, 2012, stating that I had made numerous behavioral and procedural violations. These violations are as followed: 1) Making deliveries after clearing with dispatch. Nowhere is it stated that this is a FedEx company policy violation. 2) My lunch break times do not match in the GAP report (codes & times are entered into the computer system using the FedEx power used by each employee) and the hand written time card. These did not match due to a mistake made I personally made when manually writing in the lunch break time on the time card. I wrote that I took a lunch break from 1915 to 1845, which is clearly a mistake of my behalf. I informed the management of this mistake when I was being issued the letter, management stated that I had falsified documents. 3) Giving work to a peer without management approval. This is not a policy violation and is routinely practiced by myself and every other courier employed by FedEx. Couriers help each other out while on road and if we cannot then we contact dispatch and in turn dispatch will contact management if necessary. 4) Failure to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Hours of Service regulations by working over 12 hours in a 24 hour work day. This was another lie perpetrated on me by FedEx management. The Hours of Service regulations set forth by the DOT state that drivers are not to exceed 14 hours of service, which I did not exceed. On the morning in question on June 1, 2012, at approximately 0900, I conveyed to the lead (acting manager) that I was in need of help on road before leaving the building and was told that there was no help available and for me to go out with what I have. After arriving at my first delivery location, at approximately 10 am, I contacted FedEx dispatch to inform them I was very heavy on deliveries and needed on road help. I was then told by dispatch to contact the acting manager, at the station. This communication with dispatch was all done through the FedEx power pad computer system. I called acting manager at the station immediately as directed by dispatch. I was informed by the lead that there was still no help available, but that no one in my area would clear (leave) until everyone was ok with their work. At approximately 1300 I contacted dispatch again to inform them that I was still in need of help with my deliveries. I also contacted the closest courier to my location to ask if he could assist me and he could not. After arriving back at the station, after 8 pm that evening, I met with the senior manager, so told me there was no reason I should have not been out so late. I informed her I had way too much work, that management was informed of this and I was still given no assistance. She then stated “there was no help, what am I supposed to do”, a stupid response from a senior manager professional. I subsequently went over 12 hours and was given a letter of discipline for doing so. I had a GFT (Guaranteed Fair Treatment) meeting, which was a hearing between me and FedEx management regarding the disciplinary letter I received, in an attempt to prove operations manager Ivan Ellin had lied and falsified his letter of reprimand report. At the hearing were management & upper management, which included my immediate manager, senior manager, District manager and human resource liaison. It was managements contention that I was in violation of the DOT‘s ‘Hours of Service’ policy by going over 12 hours and that I would not have done this had I contacted management. Prior to this meeting I requested, from dispatch, a print out of the messages between myself and dispatch that day to prove I did indeed inform management I was in need of help to avoid going over the allotted hours and was told by dispatch I was not allowed to receive a print out of the those message and that management had already requested them. At the FedEx hearing the senior manager confronted me with the print out of those messages, but did not include the conversation that took place between dispatch and me which included my asking for assistance with deliveries that morning. The senior manager intentionally left out that paperwork which could have exonerated me by proving I did in fact ask for help that morning and if given the necessary assistance needed would have not violated any of the so called violations I was alleged to have committed. The lead on the morning in question was never asked of his involvement in this situation. I informed the panel that those messages proving my innocence will still be on the computer hard drive, but was ignored. The investigation was conducted by the accusing operations manager, who I believe along with senior manager suppressed those messages to cover up for their poor managerial skills, not paying attention the stations activities and ignoring my multiple requests for assistance. I informing the district manager that I asked for help several times that morning and named Greg Abram & dispatch as my witnesses who could have attested to the fact I did ask for assistance that morning, but was ignored by management. The district manager and Human resource liaison both chose to ignore my evidence and sided with management to uphold the letter of discipline. On January 16, 2013 I received a 3rd and final letter of disciplinary action when I brought 18 un-attempted delivery packages back to the station and was said to have failed to communicate with management, dispatch or any of the designated leads in a timely manner that I needed help. There was approximately a 3 hour delay start time that morning and I stated that again I had no help. The two couriers, designated to help out in my area were both heavy with deliveries and had other after work commitments to attend to, so could not stay any later to assist. Due to the last letter I received and the problems resulting from it, I had been conditioned not to expect any help whatsoever from FedEx Lakeland, Florida management. I had asked for assistance previously, but received no help and was still given a disciplinary letter. No matter what I did I believe I would still have been reprimanded. Couriers at the Lakeland, Florida station are constantly told that there is no help available and when I tried to get help I received none at all and was given a letter for it, but this last and final time I was given a letter of reprimand for not asking for help. I presented evidence at the FedEx GFTP (Guaranteed Fair Treatment Procedure) hearing for this letter received on January 16, 2013, to show that this manager, had been constantly harassing, bullying, discriminating and defaming me by constantly issuing me disciplinary letters that in no way reflect company policy, allowing other caucasian employees to routinely exceed his 12 hour policy with no repercussions. I informed upper management of the other drivers who I knew went over Ivan Ellin’s 12 hours in one work day, with dates included of the so-called Hours of Service violation and these employees received no disciplinary action whatsoever. An unemployment hearing was conducted between the State of Florida unemployment office, [the manager], a FedEx representative and I after FedEx denied my unemployment, where the manager stated that: 1) I violated the hours of service FedEx policy by going over 12 hours in a work day and anyone in violation of this had to fill out a log book. I provided names of other couriers who exceeded his Hours of Service policy with the dates when the violations occurred where they received no disciplinary action whatsoever nor had they filled out any log book as stated by manager. I asked FedEx Manager if these employees received any disciplinary action, he said he didn’t recall. After being confronted with this information and the actual truth concerning the policy, [the manager] then backtracked by saying that it’s understood that no one is to go over 12 hours and management approval was required before exceeding the 12 hour limit. He still had no answer for not filling out a log book. 2) He stated that I viewed a DOT video regarding the Hours of Service policy and should have been aware of the DOT policy, I was aware of the policy, but I pointed out to the Unemployment referee that the policy said 14 hours and not 12 and that what [the manager] neglected to mention that he had me view the DOT video on the policy after the alleged violation had taken place and not prior to it. [The manager] specifically stated that I violated DOT policy knowing that the DOT policy is 13.5 hours not including lunch. It is even stated on the front of every FedEx time card that an employee is not to exceed 13.5 hours, lunch not included. 3) He stated in the hearing couriers are to inform management prior to going over 12 hours of work which I did when I informed the lead that morning and contacted dispatch twice and was ignored by management. 4) He stated he had no knowledge of my contacting any member of the management team on June 1, 2012. If anyone bothered to ask the lead, dispatch or check the computer records, this information could have been attained. He stated that he asked me why I didn’t call him directly and I said I didn’t know. Neither of these questions or this conversation ever took place. He claimed that no one knew I was out so late, which is another lie. I told management through dispatch 3 times that I needed help. He stated that if I had contacted management he could have done something about it. I did and he did not. 5) He stated that giving work to a peer, unless it comes from him, not to do so. When asked if giving work to a peer was a policy violation, he exclaimed it was a station policy and management needs to give that approval right off the jump, this is also a lie. We have never been told to ask management approval to give another courier work especially when we need help. This is ridiculous. 6) He stated that delivering during lunch break is a policy violation, which I was accused of doing, but when asked if I delivered during lunch break he did not know and exclaimed “I would have to take a look” then stated according to the jag report neither my time card nor the GAP report matched, which showed that I was delivering during my break. I had already explained to this manager that I made a mistake when filling out the time card manually, but was still written up for this violation. I submitted evidence which included a photo of another courier’s time card who had gone over [the manager's] 12 hour policy. This courier did not fill out any log book nor did he receive any disciplinary action. I submitted my phone bill to prove I called the station at the time I said. And I submitted a photo of the morning events board which stated “0 flex today do the best and be safe”. Meaning there was no help available for the regular couriers, which [the manager] denied writing. Telling couriers this is a routine commonly practiced by Lakeland, Florida management. Paperwork evidence was faxed to FedEx representative Trev Lumsden, but the new representative, Jennifer Wright, who took over the second portion of the hearing, claims not to have received that information. At the hearing I was asked by FedEx representative Jennifer Wright if I had been written up for asking for help in the past. I stated no, but was mistaken. In fact I was written up after asking for help. This was the letter I received on June 5, 2012 for the June 1st incident when I asked for, but never received help. The outcome of the State of Florida Unemployment hearing was decided in my favor after the evidence I presented along with that managers own testimony showing the operations manager to be a liar and that he manufactured policy to ensure my termination for misconduct and failure to meet the employer’s job performance requirements. I had asked for, but was not given the tools needed to complete the task at hand and was made to attempt an impossible mission and then be held responsible when it could not be done. After 14 years of service I was falsely terminated. [The manager] has, since my termination, lowered the goals for my route making it easier to complete the mission of the route. FedEx claims that as long as a courier adheres to policy set forth by the company they can be assured of employment. This is not true, but a total lie.
  4. No name
    October 25, 2013
    Have a heart, I feel for you!!! That company will put you over the edge...
  5. Dan's an idiot
    March 18, 2013
    Dan your an idiot. Obvious the medication she was taking was the reason she was fired. If she told them she had medication and the side effects caused her to be fired then Fedex is firing her based off of medication. I sincerely hope Dan was playing around, cause this idiot is too much to handle.
  6. Dan
    March 12, 2013
    Heartless? She had Personal issue that affected work, even blacked out at work? Its amazing at how people don't see how they are responsible for their actions. I hope the title is supposed to be sarcatic

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