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Driver Sues FedEx, Says Was Fired for Russian Accent

Ex-trucker says company discriminated, didn't give him chance to prove his English
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 29, 2012 1:23 PM CST
Updated Nov 29, 2012 1:37 PM CST
Driver Sues FedEx, Says Was Fired for Russian Accent
In this Wednesday, May 16, 2012, file photo, a FedEx delivery truck is seen at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.   (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

A Utah truck driver alleges FedEx fired him because of his Russian accent, even though he offered to appear before corporate higher-ups to demonstrate his English-speaking abilities. Ismail Aliyev has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against FedEx and the long-haul contractor that employed him. Aliyev says his trouble started months into the job when a weigh station gave his company a warning—but not a citation—about his Russian accent. One of the requirements of holding a commercial driver's license is the ability to communicate. "I think for a driver, my English is not too bad," says Aliyev, now an independent trucker.

Aliyev has an accent, "but it's very understandable," says his lawyer. The trucking company "said he was an excellent employee and would like to keep him, but it was instructed by FedEx to terminate him." A message left at FedEx's corporate headquarters wasn't returned. Aliyev has held a commercial license since 2009 and was driving without any problems before FedEx ordered his firing in September, his lawyer said. "FedEx just decided they didn't want to deal with him, or even talk to him," he said. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount for lost wages and punitive damages. A FedEx spokesman would not comment on the allegations. (Read more FedEx stories.)

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