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Connecticut Congress members seek XPO Logistics probe

December 4, 2018

Nearly 100 Democratic members of Congress — including four of Connecticut’s five representatives — on Tuesday called for an investigation into alleged labor violations by XPO Logistics, as Congressional pressure mounts against the Greenwich Fortune 500 company.

A letter calling for the probe was signed by Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty, John Larson and 93 other U.S. representatives. It responded to recent pieces by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and PBS’ “NewsHour,” which reported pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions and suppression of labor organization involving XPO employees across the country. Two weeks earlier, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., joined eight other senators to launch a similar investigation.

“Hundreds and thousands of workers could be at risk at XPO Logistics facilities if the aforementioned allegations are accurate,” the Congress members wrote in the letter, which asked for a hearing on the company, to the leaders of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “While the current issues may be local and isolated, further investigation and oversight should be executed to ensure that hundreds and thousands of workers nationwide are not at further risk.”

A message Tuesday for XPO was not immediately returned. The company has denied the allegations in previous statements.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, whose district covers Fairfield County, was the sole Connecticut Congress member not to sign the letter. A message left for Himes’ office was not immediately returned.

Among the allegations, two women said they suffered miscarriages this year while working at a Memphis, Tenn., plant investigated by The New York Times. The facility processes boxes of iPhones and other devices for Verizon Wireless.

One of the women, 19-year-old Ceeadria Walker, told The Times she gave her supervisor a doctor’s note that recommended fewer hours on her feet to avoid injury or pregnancy complications. Walker was allowed to focus on paperwork on some days, but she told The Times she spent most of July on a conveyor-belt line lifting 45-pound boxes. In August, she miscarried.

“It is inexplicable that XPO, a company with a revenue of over $15 billion in 2017, including over $85 million in (fiscal year 2018) from federal contracts, found it unreasonable to provide accommodations for these women,” Blumenthal co-wrote in a Nov. 20 letter to XPO.

In an earlier statement, XPO said that “our continuing commitment to a best-in-class work environment includes an accommodation policy that exceeds legal requirements for family issues.”

The New York Times also reported that a 58-year-old Memphis worker, who dealt with previous cardiac problems, died in October 2017 from a heart attack she suffered on the warehouse floor. She had complained to her son that her supervisors would not let her leave early when she did not feel well, according to The Times.

In California, XPO has misclassified short-haul truck drivers at major ports as independent contractors instead of employees, making thousands of them ineligible for unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation or disability pay, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In Lockport, N.Y., two workers were reportedly killed in June when they were crushed while unloading cargo at an XPO-operated facility.

XPO is headquartered at 5 American Lane, in the northwest corner of Greenwich. It ranked No. 186 on this year’s Fortune 500 list, with a market value of about $9 billion. It operates in 32 countries, with more than 98,000 employees, according to its website.

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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