FedEx: Driver suing for discrimination had safety violations

A former subcontracted FedEx driver who is suing FedEx and the trucking company that employed him for discrimination was dismissed for safety violations, not because of his Russian accent, according to FedEx.

FedEx Ground spokeswoman Erin Truxal told the Seattle Times the company “disqualified” Ismail Aliyev, a contract driver with the company, because he had received several safety citations, and not just over his English-speaking abilities.

The Times cited records obtained from Iowa’s Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement and the state court system that are said to show that Aliyev was cited at an Iowa weigh station in August 2011 for an inability to speak English clearly. He also was ticketed for unsafe backing on a highway ramp and driving for 14 hours, which exceeding the 11-hour limit. The records show an Iowa court found Aliyev guilty of all three infractions a month later.

Aliyev claimed he was fired because of his Russian accent, and he disputes the ticket that called him a “non-English speaking driver.”

Aliyev’s  lawyer, Robert H. Wilde, told the Times he was unaware of his client’s safety violations. Wilde said FedEx mentioned a language problem but no safety violations when it responded to a complaint by the driver at the Utah Anti-Discrimination and Labor Division.

Wilde said he still planned to pursue a lawsuit against FedEx and GNB Trucking Co., West Valley, UT, the contractor that employed and fired Aliyev under orders from FedEx. FedEx controls the hiring and firing of its drivers.

Wilde said a FedEx manager ordered the firing without bothering to talk with Aliyev, and that Aliyev offered to fly to FedEx headquarters to demonstrate his language skills but was turned down.

FedEx is arguing it can’t be sued because Aliyev didn’t work directly for the company, but Wilde said FedEx dictated the terms of employment for GNB drivers.

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