XPO Logistics of Greenwich has announced that its investigation into claims of pregnancy discrimination has concluded and that it will find replacement jobs for Memphis warehouse workers affected by the decision to close that facility in the spring.
The announcements are the latest chapters in a saga that began last October with the publication of a New York Times report detailing alleged instances of pregnancy discrimination, as well as labor disputes, across the country. Included were reports of the mistreatment of pregnant warehouse workers in Memphis.
Tina Tchen, who was executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls during the Obama administration and served as Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, was brought in by XPO to investigate those claims, and said she was satisfied with what she found.
“We conducted a thorough and independent investigation of the allegations, with the full cooperation of XPO,” she said. “Unlike the predecessor company that owned the facility in 2014 when most of the allegations occurred, XPO has had a written policy in place providing for reasonable accommodations when medically documented as needed for pregnant workers.
“But we recommended that additional procedures, education and training of supervisors and workers be put in place,” she continued. “I am pleased that the company responded immediately, and even before our investigation was completed, adopted a new Pregnancy Care Policy announced in December 2018, that far exceeds any federal, state or local requirements, and is one of the most progressive policies in place around the country.”
That policy is now in effect at all of the nearly 1,000 XPO facilities in the U.S., reaching 48,000 employees, Tchen said. “The company has also been engaged in a robust training and education process to ensure all workers and supervisors know about this new policy and how to apply it,” she said. “Overall, I found XPO, as this response demonstrates, to be a company that is working to enhance workplace culture and support for its employees.”
In the meantime, an XPO spokesman confirmed that the company will work to ensure its employees affected by the Memphis closure will have jobs.
“All hourly employees in the closing warehouse in Memphis will be offered new jobs in nearby facilities and provided additional information regarding the application process,” he said. “The employees will not need to reapply for jobs. The company has 11 other distribution centers – all of which are either in the same neighborhood or within a few miles of the closing facility.
“In May, the company also will open a new warehouse across the street from the closing facility, which will provide an additional 80 new jobs,” hesaid. “The company is holding special office hours to assure that all employees receive the additional information directly, and will make every effort to accommodate employees’ preferences while transferring them to another position.”
XPO’s announcement earlier this month that it was closing the Memphis warehouse resulted in criticism from the Teamsters union, which suggested that the decision was made in retaliation over Memphis workers’ claims of discrimination.
The XPO spokesman reiterated that “XPO has a strict ‘no retaliation’ policy in place. We encourage employees to voice concerns – including anonymously – without any fear of reprisal.”
“I will continue to follow the implementation of XPO’s re-employment plan to ensure that this transition does not financially harm its workers or impede the exercise of their rights,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, one of nine senators involved in an investigation of XPO, said in a statement. “I remain concerned that the way this particular facility was closed sends a chilling message to workers engaged in organizing and speaking out against unfair and unacceptable labor standards.”