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Fired workers: ‘Sex, violence, drugs’ at FedEx

By   /   April 2, 2010  /   Comments

Three recently fired Federal Express employees in Albany say their workplace was and continues to be run in an intimidating manner by a manager who employs a sex-crazed, violent supervisor as his “henchman.”

The three ousted workers claim that FedEx Senior Manager Gary Acker’s second-in-command, Theresa Browne, is a “henchman” who makes sexual advances to subordinates. Public records show that Browne has been involved in two recent physical altercations that resulted in police being called to FedEx’s Gordon Avenue facility. She was not charged in either instance.

Two of the three ousted workers also say that one of their co-workers transported illegal narcotics on his route; and one says he anonymously reported the worker after being recruited to participate in the trafficking scheme. And the three claim that Acker avoids issuing customer refunds and thus boosts his performance record by falsifying documents to indicate that late packages were delivered on time.

Local FedEx management referred questions to the corporation’s headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., where a spokesman said all of the fired workers’ claims were fully investigated and without merit.

“All of the allegations by these individuals were found to be baseless” by FedEx officials in Memphis who investigated the claims, said Sandra Munoz, a FedEx communications manager.

A sexual harassment claim against Browne, an operations manager, is the subject of a federal discrimination complaint by 17-year FedEx driver Robert Hodge of Albany, who says he was fired last year after spurning Browne’s advances. Hodge says Browne terminated him after he filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against her.

Kevin Shakur of Albany, meanwhile, says he was fired last week and that Browne remains on the job after Shukur dialied 911 when Browne shoved him during an argument. Police said Browne denied Shakur’s charge and claimed another FedEx employee witnessed the incident. But when police questioned the employee, the employee said Browne was mistaken and that he did not see what happened.

“He got fired for following policy, for going (outside until police arrived) when his supervisor physical assaulted him,” Hodge said of Shakur, who had been on the job about six months. “That’s what they do to people they want to terminate. They will say that you had disruptive conduct. They are nasty to the core like that …

“Sex, violence, drugs, cover-up. Fed-Ex in Albany has it all.”

In 2008, Katherine Kendrick told police that Browne pushed her moments after firing Kendrick because she was attempting to file an internal complaint against Browne on a computer terminal.

“By keeping her (Browne) on the job after all the complaints against her, they are condoning violence,” Shakur said.

Shakur also says that he notified FedEx official after being recruited by a driver to traffic drugs on his route, but that the complaint wasn’t investigated. Another Albany resident, Darryl Williams, says he was fired in 2008 after 12 years because of trumped-up, racially motivated charges by Acker. Williams, Shakur, Hodge and Browne are black; Acker is white.

Browne did not respond to a message left by the Journal. Indeed, a FedEx employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that employees were ordered this week not to speak to reporters because of the complaints being made by Hodge, Shakur and Williams.

Shakur, Williams and Hodge sought out the Journal to tell their story, and each says he is contemplating civil litigation against Fed Ex.

FedEx is an international mail, package and freight delivery company. It has about 3,400 sites and 29,000 employees in the United States, and about 40 percent of its workforce is non-white. It is historically cited by employees as being among the best places in the United Sates to work.

Munoz said that FedEx officials have safeguards in place to ensure that harassment and other misdeeds don’t take place at work sites. All managers have open-door policies for grievances to be aired; fair treatment is guaranteed to all employees who feel they have been wronged; and corporate officials in Memphis investigate every local complaint, Munoz said.

“Many decisions made by lower-level management are overturned in favor of the employee,” Munoz said. “They are always investigated by professionals outside the work locations … I do want to emphasize and I can’t find a strong-enough word to tell you how much the company is intolerant of workplace violence, or harassment or retaliation. The company has some very strong policies in place …

“To suggest that this is going on … would have to imply, quite frankly, that there was a cover-up all the way here to Memphis.”

But Williams said that a FedEx human resources official from Louisiana who is closely associated to Acker, who supervises sites throughout the South Georgia and North Florida region, typically conducts the investigations.

“These people who do these so-called investigations are on the Fed Ex payroll,” Williams said. “There is no union so you are kind of out there by yourself. You don’t have an independent individual looking into those things. And retaliation for making complaints is (common).”

Hodge, meanwhile, says that four witnesses in his complaint against FedEx were never interviewed and that all four were ultimately fired by FedEx.

Hodge already has won a battle against FedEx. In a rare occurrence, Dougherty Superior Court Judge Steve Goss overturned the Georgia Department of Labor Board of Rule’s denial of unemployment compensation benefits to Hodge.

“… Mr. Hodge was not terminated for work performance but for insubordination,” Goss said in his ruling. “Federal Express contends that his indicated that he had ‘no comment’ and sitting silently amounted to a fault ground to terminate a 17-year employee.

“There is no copy of any such Federal Express policy manual or employee guideline in the certified record herein.”

Goss said in his ruling that FedEx officials did not respond to the court’s certified-mail request to participate in his December 2009 hearing, which was held after FedEx officials were no-shows for an October hearing before Goss. Munoz said that FedEx officials in Albany claim to have not known about the hearings.

Kevin By Kevin Hogencamp

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Comments

  1. Shalom says:

    Corruption at its best. What a big old mess.

  2. MURALI says:

    EX FEDEX STAFF
    AS A EX EMPLOYEE OF FEDEX THERE IS NO SURPRISE IN THIS NEWS FOR ME.I AM FROM INDIA STILL FIGHTING AGAINST THE MANAGEMENT WITH HELP OF OUR UNION.MY OVERALL REQUEST TO USA STAFFS IN FEDEX PLS PLS START AND FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS.

  3. My Story says:

    I could write a book about the happenings at the ABYA Station for the short peoriod I was there. Great bunch of people to work with at that station minus MANAGEMENT!!! Gary A, John T and the Mrs Theresa Browne, what a messy group of people to have worked up under… Yes there was sex, violence and drugs at that station, all of the above mentioned is nothing but the truth. There wasn’t a peaceful day when I worked there. I worked side by side with a group of outstanding people minus a few and minus management… There is nothing in the human dictionary,not a word in the entire human dictionary to describe Gary, John and Theresa properly…. Who can I call to tell my story????? Who’s the person I need to contact to tell my side… I’ve seen families changed forever because of a few thoughtless people.. What kept me going plenty of times was that I alway kept in the back of my head (EVERY DOG HAS IT’S DAY). I always knew that one glorious day what was done in the dark would come to the light and no stone would be left unturned!!!! I am standing by to hear from anyone who is willing to hear my side, my story…

  4. This is too funny. Drugs and other types of contraband are illegal in general and especially illegal if done on the job! I recently blogged about what constitutes a “just cause” firing for purposes of unemployment benefits and who is and is not eligible and drugs are right at the top of the list for denying such benefits!

    http://employment-law.legalmatch.com/2010/05/dissecting-the-just-cause-requirement-for-unemployment-benefits.html

  5. Investigator says:

    if drugs or being ship thru fed x Albany Ga transportation and its never been investigated , and its been going on over 2 years and nothings happen we will see if we can change that

  6. ABYA EMPLOYEE says:

    It is a shame to see grown men and women turn their heads and not voice out the truth about how Albany FEDEX EXPRESS is being ran!!You all complain how unfair employees are being mistreated but yet no one has the courage to voice it out.It is a shame that there are spies among workers waiting to snitch in order to secure a position.ABYA NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED!!!!!!!!!! Gary Acker and his crew of henchmen needs to be looked into.All things have an end and all will acount for his or her wrongs.BZ to these guys for bringing this fight out Albany GA this is what is happening in FEDEX EXPRESS.What these ex employees reported is the truth.

  7. Ex FedEx Employee says:

    As a former employee of FedEx in Vlda, Gary was also a manager. He was just another manager using our location as a stepping stone. He was not a bad guy but wasn’t always the fairest either. He knows how to make a worker’s life really bad if you crossed him, didn’t make your numbers, or got sick or hurt on the job. He is out for himself and that’s it. He was good to work for as long as your nose was brown. Is there any cameras in ABY. Might just want to consider investing in them.

  8. Grady Burrell says:

    My heart goes out to all “at will” employees who are subjected to a right-to-work for less and a right-to-work without rights. I well remember what it felt like to be forced to endure abuse and mistreatment, in addition to performing my job assignment, in order that I may remain gainfully employed. Thankfully, I’ve discovered there is a better way to make ends meet. The work, itself, is just as difficult and demanding, but the environment is safer and less hostile, the job security is more comforting, the benefits are much more rewarding, even the wage is greater, as is morale and productivity. While it’s true that my employer is in direct competition with Fed-Ex, it doesn’t mean that I don’t give a flip about their employees, whether I know them by name; they are neighbors in my community and members of my Church; whom I count as friends. Must Fed-Ex mistreat my friends, neighbors and Church family in order to remain competitive in a market so large that all businesses in that sector can barely keep pace with the growth. Are we honestly in a RACE TO THE BOTTOM with each other? For if we are, you can win.

    “Do not oppress the hired laborer, who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your people or one of the sojourners in your land within your gates. Give him his wages in the daytime, and do not let the sun set on them, for he is poor, and his life depends on them, lest he cry out to God about you, for this will be counted as a sin for you.” – Deuteronomy 24:14-15

  9. ASU graduate says:

    Mr. Hogencamp,

    Again, thank you for bringing this issue to light. I do not think this is a “witch hunt” to discredit Ms. Browne’s work or accomplishments. It is about the unfair and undignified treatment of employees by the leadership at the ABYA station. To revisit the question again stands out, if the workers making the claims were “underachievers and lazy” then how were they able to last and invest over 12 years each within the company? This amount of time with a company indicates that they were obviously doing something right and doing it on a consistent basis. I am no stranger to work as I have spent 17 years in the US Army and served as cavalry scout in both Gulf Wars. I was willing to quit college in order to prove myself worthy of being on the FedEx team. A veteran employee advised me to reconsider and now I am glad I did. I simply could not accrue any hours on the job. Upon unloading the truck in the morning, myself and two other employees would go and try to assist our fellow couriers loading their trucks to get them dispatched on their routes quicker. All three of us were former soldiers and understood the importance of teamwork. However, we were ordered to “clock out” and leave our struggling fellow couriers to fend for themselves. This was under direction by Ms. Browne. I volunteered to clean and mop the bathrooms as well as beautify the station area in an effort to show just how much I wanted to work for FedEx. Our couriers appreciated any assistance we could and would give them but the leadership decided it was unnecessary. I received better treatment from my drill sergeant at basic training and Airborne School than the leadership at the FedEx station. Also let us examine the tone in which “John Dow” responds to the accusations in “his” posts. It sounds a lot like the harsh and aggressive leadership found at the ABYA station. The “John Dow” probably spelled “Doe” (FYI) sounds like a response from “Theresa Browne” or “Gary Acker”. The response also suggests that the employee who called the police in the alleged assault incident as “wearing the skirt” and being a “woman”. This unprofessional comment genderizes women as weak and uncapable which is simply untrue. Also why is the issue trying to be redirected towards race? There were and still are some hard-working and dedicated employees at the ABYA station. I know and understand what it is to work hard to invest years towards retirement and a comfortable livelihood. The couriers may fear reprecutions or jeapordize their job security by stepping forward. However, the conditions and madness at the workplace will continue if the leadership remains unchecked. The former employees making the claims all have a common thread; the leadership at the station. Again, this case warrants deeper and further investigation. This once prestigous and iconic company may soon be exposed which does the hard workers at the station a great injustice which is unfair as well. To all the dedicated and hard-working couriers at the ABYA station who gave me knowledge of the job and a boost of encouragement, I say a sincere “Thank You and God Bless You All” Thank you for the very short time I was there and hopefully better days are to come at the station soon!

  10. No Way.. says:

    FedEx need’s to send a team of HR people to all of Gary Ackers locations and start asking questions. They would be SHOCKED AT WHAT HAS WENT ON. FedEx deals with management problem’s the same way the Catholic Church deals with s child molesting priest. They just transfer them to another location, the problems just continue elsewhere. Another manager is transfered in, and they were probably trasnfered for problems at their location.
    Until this cycle is stopped FedEx will continue to lose MILLIONS on legal bills.

  11. Bunny says:

    John—Do you work for FED-EX or maybe you are up this ladies skirt. It all starts with the name Gary.

  12. The Manakin says:

    JOHN DOW you are missing the whole point. The point is this: Not only is it illegal but it is immoral, unethical and against the laws of our society for one person to physically assault another – whether the male or the female does the assualting is irrelevant. The point is that the manager has been accused of physically assaulted her hourly employees and the accusation has been substantiated by several employees. If you were not such a brown-noser maybe you could comprehend this idea. Do you think it would have been better if the courier had just knocked the crap out of the female manager when she assaulted him?? I don’t think so!

  13. Thanks for your posts. John and Sue, as you know and as we indicated in our article, we would love to get more info from the local FedEx managers, but they won’t return our calls. We are doing a followup. As was the case with Grady, if you have information that will help us tell the whole story, please write to me at kevin@thealbanyjournal.com. Or better yet, have Gary Acker and Teresa Browne contact us. Thanks!

  14. Abya employee says:

    Oh and john proof read before you post.Your vocabulary is poor how did you get a job at fedex? Lol!!!! I bet my life you are one off the snitches which narrows it down to only two, then by your grammer I already know who you are.

  15. Abya employee says:

    I don’t know who u are john but u gotta be one of their snitch we all know the truth about abya. Maybe you are the one that wants to have her baby. See I work there too and it was sad to know that a manager with this kind off track record can still be working there.

  16. ASU graduate says:

    Mr. Hogencamp,

    I also worked at the West Gordon station for 3 months in 2008. In examining this case one must ask “Why are there such a high volume of grievences and confrontational incidents between employees and managerial staff at the FedEx station?” The terminations, complaints, and grievences have all occurred at a high frequency, in a short amount of time, and under Ms. Browne’s leadership. The employees filing the grievences all had worked for over a decade within the company. If they were “underperformers” they would have been fired long,long ago. They obviously performed either satisfactory or better because of the amount of time they had invested and worked for the company and perhaps this particular station. FedEx is an iconic company with the reputation for being one of the best to work for yet at this station there are a high number of terminations and complaints occurring within a short period of time. “The writing is on the wall”. There is something not quite right on W. Gordon Ave. To one disgruntled employee it may be deemed as self-serving interest, but with such a high number of terminations and complaints not to mention police incidents, this case warrants further examination. Upon further investigation, you will discover more than just “disgruntled workers” out of West Gordon Ave.

  17. Sue Dow says:

    So lets ask the question why would someone talk representation like Williams. that says it all.

  18. John Dow says:

    I wonder why they are bringing this story to a white journalist instead of African American? You know why? Becasue a African American wouldn’t believe it… hahaha

  19. John Dow says:

    This group of fired lazy men or women whichever one fits, weren’t fired by this woman, they fired themselves.

    In your article you stated that she shoved a man, now looking at the photos i’m wondering which one had on the skirt that day. If the person at that time was the 6 foot tall man when she’s standing 5 ft. I would have to say she has some big ones. Or he needs to have on a skirt. These workers had been given a fair opportunity to stay employed but failed the process.

    You should really look into the people that are giving you this information.

    Why are you not giving this woman fair treatment, instead it looks like you are a womanizer, just like these other men. This has been the first female manager at Albany Ga with FedEx. After arriving here she has done an outstanding job with employee relation and business wise. She has been trying to prove herself to this station for 3 years, thats a long time. But due to a group of employees who thought they were untouchable, her job here has been tarnished. Just because she did not agree to make things easier for you, doesn’t make everything she does wrong.

    Also, why would you even publish a story from black males about a black female. She had nothing to do with any of these males being terminated. Look into it smart man, you are being the typical male jumping before looking.

    Come around town and look at the people talkng to you, that will just about do it. She is fair to caucasion as well as african american.

    Also tell the gentleman Grady Bburrell to get his facts together, and also enjoy his job with UPS…

  20. JOHN says:

    KEVIN THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY, I WORKED WITH THEM GUYS AND IF YOU GET THE TRUTH YOU WILL SEE THEY ALL DEVERVED TO BE FIRED WE ARE BETTER WITH THEM GONE. SO DO A FOLLOW UP

  21. Grady Bburrell says:

    The abuse of workers at FedEx Express is not surprising. FedEx Ground is currently the subject of investigations by 30 other states over its misclassification scheme. Also, more than 45 class-action lawsuits have been filed against the company in state and federal courts over the same issue.

    Misclassification of employees not only cheats workers, but leads to the loss of federal income and employment tax revenue. It is estimated that more than $4.7 billion in federal income is lost due to this practice. At the state level, misclassifying 1 percent of workers results in an average of $198 million lost annually to state unemployment insurance funds. The rest of us are forced to pick up the slack created by this shortfall of government revenue.

    America’s workers have fought long and hard for workplace dignity and a fair share of our nation’s economic prosperity. With the help of leaders from the civil rights and labor movements, workers have achieved passage of vital workplace laws guaranteeing important rights such as the right to form a union and the right to equal opportunity. These laws have helped to overcome workplace discrimination and improve living standards, especially for women, minorities, and the working poor, thus making America a more equal society. Today some of America’s most respected corporations have begun a sustained effort to exploit weaknesses in these laws and unravel much of the progress workers have made.

    FedEx Corporation is a striking example of a company widely considered to be a pillar of American success and corporate responsibility. Unfortunately, FedEx is contributing to the deepening problem of inequality in our society. FedEx’s troubling labor practices are masked by the company’s globally-recognized brand name and its reputation for getting the job done. Most Americans remain unaware of what has become an insidious pattern of anti-union conduct and efforts to subvert labor and discrimination law that call FedEx’s reputation into question.

    Millions of Americans are classified as independent contractors but essentially work as employees. Under the law, true independent contractors are supposed to enjoy entrepreneurial control over the methods they use to do their work. But these misclassified workers suffer the worst of both worlds: they are without meaningful control over their work and they are without the legal protections and benefits of employees. Nonetheless, employers persist in their misclassification, attempting to convince courts and other agencies that their workers are independent contractors in order to avoid their legal obligations to their workers and their financial obligations to our Federal and States’ government.

    Employee misclassification at FedEx Ground has thwarted workers’ attempts to assert their workplace rights. Additionally, significant violations of labor and employment laws have been alleged against FedEx Ground. These charges and workers’ accounts reveal that when FedEx Ground drivers attempt to form unions, they are subject to intimidation, interrogation, and firings. Court cases filed by FedEx Ground drivers allege workplace discrimination and harassment, including ongoing racial and ethnic slurs. As purported independent contractors, and not employees, drivers must first undergo long, expensive, and arduous court processes to prove that they are in fact employees of FedEx Ground before they can begin to seek redress for violations of their civil or workers’ rights.

    For more information on the abuses of Fed-Ex employees, nationally, and what they are doing about it; check out these links:

    http://www.fedexdriverslawsuit.com/

    http://unionreview.com/fedex-slapped-$319-million-misclassification-fines

    http://www.mbopartners.com/blog/fedex-litigator-faris-takes-down-ups.html

  22. The plot thickens. We’ve heard from two more fired Albany FedExers today. We expect to have a follow-up in next week’s paper.

About the author

Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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