Friday, September 17, 2010

Northern California Court finds FedEx's reassignment of an employee lawful

While these are the characters of Final Fantasy VII, this
blog uses them to represent Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
and it's cousin the California Fair Employment and Housing
Act.  Photo Courtesy of Andrew Becraft.  
On Tuesday, Judge Jeffery S. White ruled that FedEx's reassignment of an employee with high blood pressure from his previous delivery carrier position to a new route once his health returned complied with the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

According to Court documents, from June 1999 to March 2009 William Jefferson worked as a delivery courier for FedEx. Then he developed heart and respiratory problems causing him to fail his annual Department of Transportation physical exam and rendering him ineligible to work as a driver.  FedEx put him on medical leave until January 5, 2010, and he took personal leave for a few weeks after that.  When he returned FedExd put him on a different delivery route.

Mr. Jefferson sued FedEx claiming that it removed him from his route as a result his disability in violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).  Further, it failed to accommodate his disability by returning him to his old route upon  his return.  Judge White disagreed.

The Court noted that in order to prevail on a disability discrimination claim, the plaintiff must show that he was qualified for the job.  Here, it is undisputed he was not qualified as he was ineligible for a commercial driver's license because he failed the physical.  The failure to accommodate claim also failed because FedEx was only required to return Mr. Jefferson to a position of similar pay and responsibility, which it did.  It had no obligation to return him to his previous route.

Judge White granted summary judgment for FedEx.  The case is Jefferson v. Federal Express Corp. No. C 09-4235 and the opinion is below the jump.

Here is the opinion:
Jefferson v. FedEx

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