Plaintiffs awarded $61 million
in Fedex Ground discrimination suit
By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service
June 5, 2006
OAKLAND (BCN) - Two Lebanese-American FedEx Ground drivers
were awarded $61 million in punitive and compensatory damages
after an Alameda County Superior Court jury found the company
and a manager liable for ethnic discrimination and harassment,
according to the Dolan Law Firm, which represented the plaintiffs.
On May 24, the drivers, Edgar Rizkallah and Kamil Issa, were
awarded $11 million in emotional distress compensatory damages
after their lawyer demonstrated during trial that the two men
had been victims of ongoing harassment.
Their manager, Stacey Shoun, had allegedly taunted them with
racial epithets, calling the two men "camel jockeys,'' "terrorists,''
"sand niggers'' and other ethnic slurs.
The $50 million award came Friday in the second phase of the
trial and was based on a finding that FedEx Ground and Shoun acted
with oppression and malice in the treatment of the two plaintiffs,
according to attorney Christopher Dolan of the Dolan Law Firm.
The jury held Shoun personally liable for $1 million in emotional
distress damages and $5,600 in punitive damages.
According to Dolan, evidence presented in the trial showed that
the plaintiffs had reported the harassment to the company and
that FedEx Ground failed to prevent or correct the problem. The
company had also failed to provide managers with anti discrimination
training before and after complaints were filed.
In California, people who engage in workplace harassment can
be held personally liable in addition to the employer being held
liable. An employer can be held liable for workplace discrimination
if they know or should have known and failed to prevent or stop
In 2000 the California legislator extended protection from workplace
harassment to independent contractors. Prior to 2000 the law only
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