Former FedEx Sales Manager’s Discrimination Verdict Stripped of Justice, Signaling Supreme Court’s Bias

Houston, Texas – In a landmark discrimination case against FedEx, Jennifer Harris, a former sales manager, found her victory significantly reduced on appeal. Harris, who is Black, had emerged triumphant in 2022 with a $366 million verdict, holding FedEx accountable for retaliating against her after she filed a complaint of racial discrimination against her white manager. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned much of that ruling, slashing the damages amount to a mere $248,619. The ruling stated that FedEx had made “good-faith efforts” to comply with federal law, thereby undermining Harris’s claims.

Unlike the high-profile case involving writer E. Jean Carroll, Harris encountered unique hurdles in her pursuit of justice. Notably, FedEx required its employees to raise any employment disputes within six months, effectively limiting their legal recourse. This tactic, akin to forced arbitration, exploited the court’s inclination to enforce one-sided “contracts.” Harris was compelled to sign this agreement as a condition of her job application at FedEx, leaving her with little room for negotiation—an issue that the Fifth Circuit dismissed.

Furthermore, Harris faced the Fifth Circuit’s use of “remittitur,” a procedure allowing judges to decrease a jury’s damages award if deemed “clearly excessive.” Judge Cory Wilson’s opinion for the court acknowledged the “strong presumption” favoring upholding a jury’s decision but ultimately found Harris’s $300,000 award to be excessive. This final step left Harris with a mere 0.07 percent of the original damages she had been awarded by her peers.

Harris’s Houston jury, much like Carroll’s jury in New York, had sought to deliver a verdict that would financially impact a large corporation like FedEx in an effort to prompt behavioral change. However, for a corporate behemoth, a quarter-million-dollar penalty is merely a negligible expense. This stark contrast highlights the Supreme Court’s penchant for providing powerful defendants a multitude of opportunities to evade accountability, ultimately undermining the integrity of the legal system.

E. Jean Carroll’s recent verdict may be cause for celebration, but it remains an exception rather than the norm. The Supreme Court’s leniency toward influential defendants has created an environment where justice is consistently undermined. The current state of affairs necessitates a reevaluation of the legal system to ensure genuine accountability for those who have been wronged.