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Eleventh Circuit Rejects Sex Discrimination Claim by FedEx Driver Who Claimed Pterodactyl Hit Van

    Client Alerts
  • October 19, 2012

Creativity counts when writing fiction or a screenplay, but usually does not assist in proving an employment discrimination claim. Earlier this month in an unpublished decision, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that FedEx had articulated legitimate business reasons for terminating a driver who claimed that a pterodactyl had struck her delivery truck.

In Barnette v. FedEx Corp., the plaintiff failed to report a broken passenger side window in her vehicle as required under company policy. When questioned, she claimed that a pterodactyl or some large bird struck the window, shattering it. FedEx had previously received a report that day from the police that one of their vans had hit a security gate in a subdivision. The company fired the plaintiff for lying, and she sued claiming that the proffered reasons for the termination were pretext for sex discrimination.

The Eleventh Circuit quickly affirmed dismissal of the claim. Noting the plaintiff's "unexpected ornithological occurrence," the court concluded that the employer had offered legitimate non-discriminatory business reasons for the termination decision. The plaintiff had no evidence other than her unsubstantiated claims to support her allegations of sex discrimination.