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FedEx wins in bias suit filed by former employee

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Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx Corporate Services Inc. prevailed Tuesday in a lawsuit that claimed the company committed age and sex discrimination against a former employee who was fired after refusing to take a company-ordered drug test, days after his supervisor smelled marijuana in his vehicle.

U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman of U.S. District Court in Boston granted FedEx’s motion for summary judgment in Ames J. Tombeno v. FedEx Corporate Services Inc. and Brenda Nylen Christmas, stating that Mr. Tombeno, who worked in the sales department and drove as part of his job, knew that declining to take the test could get him fired.

Mr. Tombeno, who was 63 when he was fired, argued that he had been personally targeted by his supervisor Ms. Christmas on numerous occasions and that the drug test was part of the harassment, according to court records.

Ms. Christmas, in turn, claimed she smelled marijuana in his car and contacted Human Resources for clarification on procedures. That department, which had on file Mr. Tombeno’s signature on an employee handbook that informed him that he could be drug-tested at any time, scheduled a drug test. Mr. Tombeno refused to take the test and was subsequently fired, according to court documents.

The judge failed to find proof of discrimination, according to the ruling.

“I find Christmas' level of cautiousness, the Plaintiff's understanding of the potential consequences, and lack of additional facts to support age discrimination to be inconsistent with a pretext for discrimination. Therefore, even with the presumption that Plaintiff established a prima facia claim for age discrimination, I find that he failed to provide sufficient facts to allow a reasonable factfinder to find discriminatory pretext and the Defendants are entitled to summary judgment, as a matter of law,” Judge Hillman wrote.