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"It was surprising to see something like that at such a big company."

 

Loay El-Dagany,Yasir Sati,Montaser Foad Harara, and Oukhayi Ibrahim 

Loay El-Dagany,Yasir Sati,Montaser Foad Harara, and Oukhayi Ibrahim

Four Arab-American drivers from the FedEx Ground terminal in Wilmington, MA, allege that they were the victims of racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination, and that senior company management failed to respond to their multiple complaints. Loay El-Dagany maintains a savings account through FedEx, and when he requests a withdrawal to send money back to his family, his manager, David Goyette, “always comments that I’m sending the money to the al Qaeda organization or Bin Laden.” Montaser Harara recalls Goyette telling him, “I believe you are a terrorist.”  Harara also alleges that when he was exiting a bathroom in the terminal, Goyette asked him if he “was reading the Koran inside,” a particularly offensive statement for a Muslim.

All four drivers asserted that managers assigned them a huge workload—larger than the white drivers. Harara recalled being given 500 stops in one day—an impossible amount of work, especially given that his truck only fits packages for about 300 stops. The drivers complained that when they returned with undelivered packages, Goyette threw the packages at them, yelled, and even pushed Oukhayi Ibrahim in front of the other managers. Ibrahim brought the complaint to Contractor Relations, but asserts: “Everybody knows but nobody does anything about it.”

In 2005, all seven of the Arab-American drivers who worked at the Wilmington terminal were moved from the southern location to the northern one, forcing them to drive much farther for deliveries. At the new location, the drivers allege that the manager, John Rose, intimidated them. According to Ibrahim, before a union representation election was held for Wilmington terminal drivers, Rose “wanted to make sure we voted ‘no’ for the union. And after [the vote] he said ‘I can’t trust Muslim people because they are liars.’”

Having proven their status as employees before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the four drivers are now hoping to prevail in their discrimination claims in a case filed with a Massachusetts Superior Court. In reflecting on his experience at FedEx Ground, El-Dagany noted, “It was surprising to see something like that at such a big company…a big international company.”

Sources:
Loay El-Dagany,Yasir Sati,Montaser Foad Harara, and Oukhayi Ibrahim, personal interviews,  by Erin Johansson, March 2007.