Driver files discrimination suit over English skills

Dec. 3, 2012

In Salt Lake City, a Utah-based truck driver has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against FedEx and GNB Trucking Co. In the suit, the driver claims he was fired as a subcontracted driver for FedEx because of his Russian accent.

Ismail Aliyev worked for GNB Trucking Co., a firm that operates FedEx-branded long-haul trucks and provides trucks and drivers for FedEx.

Aliyev said his trouble began just months into the job when an Iowa weigh station gave his company a warning — but not a citation — about his Russian accent.

His lawyer, Richard Wilde, said a FedEx manager ordered that GNB fire Aliyev. That despite the driver offering to fly to FedEx headquarters to show off his language skills. That offer was turned down, Wilde noted.

Aliyev has an accent, "but it's very understandable," said Wilde, as quoted in an Associated Press news report. "GNB said he was an excellent employee and would like to keep him, but it was instructed by FedEx to terminate him."

GNB Trucking said FedEx controls the hiring and firing of its truck drivers. "If FedEx told us to fire a driver, we can't do anything about that,” said Ben Ishhanov, a manager for GNB. “Some guys don't know any English. That's the problem.”

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