It’s not every day that flying animals that lived almost 150 million years ago play a prominent role in a gender discrimination case.
Here are the details of the case:
Nancy Barnette worked as a driver for FedEx.
In 2004, she was issued a “Performance Reminder” after getting into two preventable accidents within a 12-month period. The note stated that if she had another similar accident, she could be disciplined or fired.
Not long after, Barnette was driving her assigned route when, she recounted, a “pterodactyl” or “some kind of large bird” allegedly struck the passenger window of her truck. The window shattered about an hour later.
Barnette was then confronted by a police officer, asking her if she had collided with the entrance gate of a nearby gated community after receiving a report.
It was determined that Barnette had hit the gate, fled the accident scene and then had failed to report the incident in a timely manner, all in violation of FedEx’s policies. She was fired.
Several days later, Barnette filled out a grievance form with FedEx, claiming that other, male employees had been treated differently when they failed to report their accidents.
The company conducted an investigation, found no such evidence and upheld her termination.
FedEx was in the right
Barnette then sued, claiming gender discrimination. She said that “numerous” male employees had been involved in more frequent and more serious accidents than she had.
The court wasn’t having it, though:
Only two of the six male employees that Barnette offers as comparators were disciplined for failure to report an accident, and both of those employees were found to have been unaware that their accidents occurred. None of the employees were accused of lying about the existence of or events surrounding an accident.
In the end, the court said FedEx had a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for firing Barnette:
Barnette was then terminated on the basis of a violation of the Acceptable Conduct Policy, which states that failure to report an accident and falsification of company documents both constitute types of misconduct that may be punishable by termination.
The case is Barnette v. Federal Express Corp.