October 23, 2018

XPO calls charges of pregnancy discrimination against warehouse employees "untrue"

Company says Teamsters union "fueled" story in ongoing feud.

By Ben Ames

Transportation and logistics provider XPO Logistics Inc. is pushing back against a published report that managers at one of its Memphis, Tenn., warehouses discriminated against pregnant employees, calling the allegation untrue and saying it was part of an effort by the Teamsters to organize a union at the facility.

The report alleged that several women had suffered miscarriages after supervisors denied their requests to be assigned to shifts with lightweight lifting or desk work, according to a story published Sunday in the New York Times. The alleged pregnancy discrimination occurred at a facility handling smartphones and tablet computers for Verizon that was acquired by XPO in 2014, and affected women who were forced to continue handling heavy boxes in stifling heat and long shifts, the story said.

Most women find it is safe to work while pregnant, and federal law does not require employers to accommodate pregnant workers, the article also said.

In response to the newspaper story, a spokesperson for Greenwich, Conn.-based XPOsaid the claims had never been reported to the company, calling themuntrue and saying that a company review had found the charges to be unsubstantiated and inaccurate."The truth is that we prioritize safety and respect in our diverse workplace above all else, and we have absolutely no tolerance for any type of discriminatory behavior. We deeply care about all of our employees, and work with our pregnant employees and their supervisors to adjust work assignments and schedules," the XPO spokesperson said.

XPO went on to say that the allegations were part of a political effort by union organizers. "These false allegations run counter to our values and do not reflect the way in which our Memphis facility operates. The misleading allegations directed at our Memphis facility are fueled by the Teamsters and are part of its ongoing, but unsuccessful, attempts at organizing XPO," the company spokesperson said.

The two organizations have a long history of discord, stretching back to XPO's 2015 acquisition of trucking fleet operator Con-Way Inc. That rancor has persisted, as teamsters have picketed conventions where XPO CEO Bradley S. Jacobs was speaking, XPO has disputed recent votes by labor to endorse teamster representation, and drivers have sued XPO for underpaying them.

In response to XPO's suggestion that the newspaper story was orchestrated by the Teamsters, the group issued a statement. "The dam has broken at XPO," James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said in a release. "XPO must decide whether it will go down in history as an abuser of human rights and the basic health and safety of women or do right by the brave and powerful women who are coming forward to tell their stories and reveal the unconscionable truth about how the company treats its women workers."

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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