It’s the largest single financial settlement obtained by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) since 2004. On March 21, FedEx signed a conciliation agreement with the OFCCP to pay $3 million in back wages and interest to some 21,635 applicants for entry-level package handler and parcel assistant jobs paying between $10 and $15 per hour. Additionally, 1,703 individuals in the class will receive job offers from FedEx as positions become available.
A FedEx spokesperson emphasized that the corporation admitted no wrongdoing, and that the charges were based on “computer statistical analysis rather than individual complaints or investigations.” Of course, OFCCP compliance reviews or “audits” are almost never complaint-based and monetary remedies, not penalties, are always based on statistical analysis. Statistical measures, like “standard deviation,” calculate the probability that differences between similarly situated groups (such as between racial groups in hiring selection) occurred by chance. If “chance” is statistically refuted, unlawful discrimination is indicated if the employer cannot defend its selection criterion under business necessity.
In this instance, the OFCCP relied on statistical evidence and recordkeeping violations to support its charge that the hiring processes and selection procedures used by FedEx across 23 facilities and 15 states discriminated on the bases of sex, race, or national origin. Notably, the beneficiaries of the settlement are not limited to women and minorities. The group is composed of men, women, Whites, Blacks, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics. “Protected class” is increasingly a misnomer, as the OFCCP demonstrates here by identifying race and gender discrimination across the spectrum.