(Reuters) — A U.S. judge rejected FedEx Corp’s request to throw out or reduce a jury’s $366 million damages award to a former black employee who said the package delivery company fired her after she complained of racial discrimination.
FedEx appealed the final judgment handed down Thursday by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt in Houston in favor of plaintiff Jennifer Harris, who spent more than 12 years at FedEx before her termination in January 2020.
Harris said she had been a “rising star” promoted six times by FedEx and named district manager before her white supervisor asked her in March 2019 to take a demotion.
The plaintiff said she reported discrimination three days later, prompting the supervisor to complain about her work and issue a written warning, culminating in her firing after a “sham”; investigation.
Jurors on October 25 awarded Harris $1.16 million in compensatory damages and $365 million in punitive damages.
In its bid to overturn the ruling, FedEx said Harris did not substantiate her claims and was fired because of her “unsatisfactory performance over a period of many months.”
FedEx also said the damages should not have exceeded the damages awarded.
The Memphis, Tenn.-based company has said it believed the policy would cover up to $75 million of all payouts, subject to a $10 million retainer.
FedEx appealed the ruling to the US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The company and Harris’ attorney did not immediately respond Friday to requests for comment.