FedEx added to ongoing lawsuit against cleaning contractor over Latina worker sexual abuse claims

By: - November 24, 2021 5:00 am
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Memphis-based FedEx has been added as a defendant in an ongoing lawsuit brought against a janitorial services contractor at its Nashville and Mount Juliet facilities by two Latina women workers who claim they and others among a largely female, immigrant workforce were subjected to sexual exploitation by a supervisor.

The lawsuit was filed in May by two unnamed women, “Jane Doe” and “Jane Roe,” and accuses FedEx contractor Allied Facility Care of failing to fire a “sexual predator” supervisor accused for years of abuse targeting foreign-born Hispanic women. It also claims Allied and FedEx officials ignored or discounted allegations of abuse, including rape

The lawsuit claims Fedex decided to keep Allied, a Texas based company, as its contractor, even after complaints, because it would “cost too much to change contractors.”

In a legal response filed Nov. 4, FedEx denied allegations it failed to supervise the contractor, failed to train its own employees on site on preventing sexual assault and harassment or failed to provide adequate security at its two package facilities.

On Tuesday, a FedEx spokeswoman referred a reporter back to a company statement from May regarding the lawsuit, before it had been named as a plaintiff.

“FedEx Ground does not tolerate illegal activity and is committed to maintaining a workplace free from harassment and discrimination of any kind, both within our operating company and across our network of vendors and suppliers,” the statement said.

“Vendors are expected to comply with all terms of their service agreements, including those related to services performed while on FedEx Ground property. Vendors are also solely responsible for all policies related to their employees. We are investigating the allegations in this claim that were made against one of our current vendors and will take any appropriate action once our investigation is completed.”

Efforts to reach a representative from Allied on Tuesday were unsuccessful. In its legal response to allegations made in the lawsuit, the company denies it had knowledge of the allegations made against the supervisor.

FedEx has contracted with Allied since at least 2016 to provide cleaning services at its facilities. The lawsuit claims that a supervisor accused of predatory behavior kept his job even after he was criminally charged with assault against a female employee in 2017.

A lawsuit brought by two Latina women workers alleges they and a largely immigrant workforce were subjected to sexual exploitation by a supervisor for a FedEx contractor and that FedEx officials failed to take action when notified of the harassment.

The women bringing the suit  claim they were recruited for cleaning staff positions through a women-only Facebook page, where the Allied supervisor posed as a woman to recruit new workers.

After Jane Doe was hired in October 2019 to work at the FedEx Mount Juliet facility, the supervisor told her to get into his car, groped her breasts, grabbed her legs and threatened that she would be fired or never get permanent immigration status if she resisted, the lawsuit said. On at least four occasions, the supervisor took the woman to hotels during working hours and forced her to perform sexual acts, the suit claims.

In June 2020, the supervisor got a key to the shower room at the FedEx facility from a FedEx employee and raped Jane Doe there, the suit said. The woman was fired after reporting the incident to a FedEx manager, according to the legal filing.

A second woman, Jane Roe, was also hired in 2019. The lawsuit claims Roe was similarly groped by the same supervisor in his car, offered money in exchange for sex and massages, then assigned increasingly more difficult workloads when she resisted. The woman was later groped in the company shower room, the suit claims.

The lawsuit also claims that the supervisor offered women for sex to both FedEx and Allied Facility employees.

The lawsuit seeks class action status and claims there are dozens of women who were targeted for abuse since 2017, based on their national origin. The women are from Mexico, Honduras, Central and South America. The lawsuit also claims Allied failed to pay minimum or overtime wages.

 

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism. Wadhwani lives in Nashville with her partner and two children.

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