Employment Law Report

FedEx Adopts Gender Identity As Protected Class

By Kim Koratsky

The Memphis, Tennessee, newspaper, The Commercial-Appeal reports that FedEx has added gender identity as an additional protected class covered by its corporate nondiscrimination policy.  FedEx already included sexual orientation in its workplace non-discrimination policy, but it has now expanded the language.  The Commercial-Appeal wrote that this change was made at the request of shareholders.  FedEx Workplace policies effect around 33,000 employees in Memphis area and more than 280,000 worldwide.

 This policy change at FedEx is notable as laws and ordinances protecting both sexual orientation and gender identity are becoming more prevalent.  While not yet protected on a federal level, many states have laws that prohibit such discrimination.  For example, Jefferson County, Kentucky has an ordinance prohibiting employers from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and the City of Dallas, Texas, has an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and public places based on sexual orientation..  Shelby County, Tennessee almost passed such a law recently, but ended up passing a Resolution covering only county employees.  The metro government of Nashville, Tennessee, is considering similar legislation.  So, when writing handbook and stand-alone workplace policies, it is very important to look not only at federal and state law, but also at laws and ordinances at the county, and even municipal level to assure that you cover all the bases.