FedEx Driver Fired Over Accent Files Suit, Claims Discrimination

A FedEx driver allegedly fired over his accent has filed suit in Utah. Ismail Aliyev filed a federal discrimination suit against his former company after alleging that he was fired for having a Russian accent.

"He has an accent, but it's very understandable," Aliyev's lawyer Robert H. Wilde told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "GNB said he was an excellent employee and would like to keep him but it was instructed by FedEx to terminate him."

Aliyev worked for GNB Trucking Company, which is a small business that owns and operates FedEx-branded trucks. He allegedly received a warning about his Russian accent from a weigh-station in Iowa, which was having problems understanding Aliyev.

Commercial driver's license holders must be able to freely communicate with anyone and everyone, and weigh-station employees said they could not understand Aliyev through his accent. Aliyev then said he offered to go before corporate officials at FedEx in order to defend himself and prove that he was capable of being understood.

Nobody from the establishment bothered to follow up with Aliyev, who was promptly dismissed. A FedEx spokeswoman, Erin Truxal, refused to comment on the situation, other than to confirm that Aliyev had been employed by the company.

GNB Trucking manager Ben Ishhanov offered that Aliyev may have been terminated not because of his accent but because he failed an English test given by FedEx. Both Aliyev and his son deny that claim and maintain he passed with no problems.

Since then, Aliyev has gone on to become an independent trucker.

"I think for a driver, my English is not too bad," he told AP. In fact, it was good enough to be understood while he was driving in Nebraska on Wednesday.

Elshad Aliyev, Ismail's son, told AP that his family had had to flee Russia in 2005 due to increased discrimination against Turks living in the country. They came to America as political refugees but had to give up everything.

"It really does hurt," Elshad said. "We lost everything in Russia."

"FedEx just decided they didn't want to deal with him, or even talk to him," Wilde said. The terms of the suit have not been released but seek an unspecified amount for lost wages and damages.