Greenwich-based XPO Logistics, which has been under fire from some quarters for the reported mistreatment of pregnant workers at a Memphis warehouse, is facing heat again over its decision to close that facility.
In a Feb. 13 letter distributed to XPO workers, the company said that “(the) closure stems from an overall business model change initiated and completed by our customer (Verizon).” The letter outlines a 14-day termination period that will begin on April 15.
However, the Teamsters union issued a statement pointing out that Memphis was the subject of an Oct. 21, 2018 New York Times article that purported to expose pregnancy discrimination, including miscarriages after XPO allegedly refused to adjust the women’s work assignments. Additional charges of sexual misconduct were filed against the company by women in the facility.
The Teamsters’ statement included comments from workers in the Memphis facility who questioned the company’s true motives.
“My co-workers and I stood up and exposed the terrible conditions at the XPO-Verizon facility in Memphis, including sexual harassment, dangerous heat, pregnancy discrimination and worker abuses,” said Lakeisha Nelson. “In return, XPO and Verizon are shutting down our facility and cutting our jobs. I will not be intimidated by these corporate bullies.”
“XPO wants to talk about how much it cares about pregnant workers, and then it lays off all the workers from the facility that brought these pregnancy problems to light,” said Tasha Murrell, an XPO worker who had miscarriage on the job. “This should tell you how serious XPO is about changing its ways.”
The closing will take an estimated 400 jobs out of the Memphis community.
The announcement was made on the same day XPO issued a press release promoting its new pregnancy policy.
“We have stood by these workers since the beginning in their fight to improve their working conditions at this XPO-Verizon warehouse,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “I have spoken to these women and seen the pain and suffering XPO has put them through. For XPO and Verizon to now close this facility is disgraceful. We will continue to help these workers in their fight to keep their jobs.”
An XPO spokesman insisted that the decision to close the Memphis facility was not connected to the previous allegations.
“Our customer has made a business decision and as a result this facility will close in June,” he said. “Our presence in the Memphis community remains strong, and we have new jobs available for the majority of these employees in our 11 other local facilities. We’re also opening a new facility in Memphis later this year, which will create approximately 80 new jobs.”
As for the “retaliation” claims, he said: “XPO has a strict ‘no retaliation’ policy in place. We encourage employees to voice concerns – including anonymously – without any fear of reprisal.”