Claims of religious, ethnic and racial discrimination from a former FedEx delivery contractor drew lawyers to federal court in Sherman on Wednesday.
The hearing was held in the Eastern District Court and allowed counsel from both sides to introduce their positions on a civil suit filed earlier this year by Fouzia Aziz of Denison. Aziz has alleged that management at the company’s Mesquite terminal created a hostile work environment and wrongfully terminated her contract as an independent delivery service provider for FedEx in October 2017 because she was a Muslim woman. Judge Amos Mazzant heard motions to dismiss the case from FedEx and an injunction from Aziz, but pledged to review the requests further and took no official action.
“I think, for this case, there are very important issues that go to the heart of what it means to be an American citizen,” Aziz’s attorney Jason Freeman said.
In a complaint filed with the court in April, Aziz alleged that she became the target of hostility and discrimination in late September 2017 after she and her husband were forced to move their operations as independent contractors from FedEx’s Sherman facility and began working at the package terminal in Mesquite.
Within two weeks of the move, Aziz’s husband was reportedly included in a string of text messages that were initiated and exchanged by a competing delivery contractor and the senior manager of the Mesquite location. The complaint alleges that either Aziz or her husband was referenced using a racial slur and later received an anonymous phone call from someone who said that her businesses — BZ Transport, Inc., FSZ Logistics, Inc. and Husky Tiger, Inc. — would soon have their FedEx contracts terminated.
The complaint states that Aziz and her husband relayed the threats to FedEx, which provides security for the Mesquite terminal, and sent multiple emails to FedEx Chairman Frederick Smith requesting help. FedEx pledged to look into the allegations, but Aziz said she never got any related updates from the company and the chairman never responded to the emails.
The complaint said Aziz did, however, hear from FedEx approximately one week after the threats, when she received a letter saying BZ Transport’s contract was under review for termination. The company’s contract was ultimately terminated and the complaint states that much of BZ Transport’s coverage area was then awarded to the same competing contractor who sent some of the text messages Aziz’s husband received.
“FedEx is committed to maintaining a workplace free from discrimination of any kind, both within our operating companies and in our contractual relationships with service providers,” FedEx Ground Managing Director of External Communications Perry Colosimo said in an emailed statement to the Herald Democrat. “We take these allegations seriously and look forward to a thorough review of all the facts.”
FedEx lawyers present at Wednesday’s hearing said BZ Transport and its employees struggled to make timely and proper deliveries and that Aziz had failed to show immediate and irreparable harm through termination of the contract. Defense attorneys also alleged that Aziz subcontracted BZ Transport assignments without contractual authorization to one of her other companies in order to take advantage of higher negotiated rates. Concerns were also raised about the possible swapping of package bar codes and improper delivery coding by BZ Transport.
Husky Tiger and FSZ Transport are currently in arbitration with FedEx. Freeman said he could not comment on the ongoing arbitration, but explained that he filed an injunction request with the court in order to halt what he saw as FedEx’s attempts to hurt or end its contracts with the company.
A date has not been scheduled for Mazzant to deliver his ruling on the filed motions.