(SEATTLE) –Ahead of Verizon’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday, leading groups in the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements are calling on Verizon CEO Lowell C. McAdam and the company’s board of directors to meet with them and discuss next steps to end pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct in Verizon-contracted warehouses. The letter comes as female workers employed at the Verizon-contracted XPO Logistics warehouse in Memphis recently filed a wave of complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After receiving the group’s letter, Verizon stated on Wednesday that it will investigate the complaints. View more photos, here.
XPO workers from the Memphis warehouse will be joined by local women’s rights groups and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters with signs that say “Time’s Up Verizon” at a protest held outside the shareholder meeting tomorrow. Together, they will call on Verizon to visit with the workers in Memphis as part of the company’s investigation into the allegations and to take further action to end the sexual harassment.
In a letter sent on May 2 to McAdam and the board, the group of #TimesUp leading organizations including A Better Balance, the National Women’s Law Center, and SAG-AFSTRA wrote:
“From the previous incidents and allegations, and now new sexual harassment allegations under XPO Logistics it seems that this is not an isolated issue. The XPO warehouse reportedly exhibits a toxic culture that runs contrary to Verizon’s stated policies and practices…Furthermore, we understand that the Verizon Supplier Code of Conduct clearly states that workers in Verizon’s supply chain will be treated with dignity and respect in a workplace free from discrimination.”
The letter also calls for a “joint meeting to discuss the actions that Verizon will take to stop the rampant sexual harassment in this warehouse.” Approximately 900 workers distribute Verizon Wireless products to customers and retail stores at the warehouse, operated by XPO Logistics in Memphis, Tenn.
“My coworkers and I were sexually harassed all the time with nowhere to turn,” said Lakeisha Nelson, a worker at the Verizon-contracted XPO warehouse in Memphis who will protest at the meeting Thursday. “Our warehouse is an essential part of Verizon’s supply chain, and I hope now that we have the ear of Verizon’s CEO and board, that the company will help us end supervisor sexual harassment and misconduct at XPO once and for all.”
Eight workers in Memphis have filed charges of sexual harassment and gender discrimination with the EEOC to hold XPO Logistics accountable. In the filings, workers reported that supervisors groped them, grabbed them, and made relentless comments about their bodies.Workers also faced retaliation for reporting harassment.
“We are proud to stand in solidarity with warehouse workers fighting back against sexism and discrimination in the workplace,” said Gloria Sweet-Love, president of the NAACP’s Tennessee State Conference and a signer of the letter. “The abusive and discriminatory treatment at the Verizon-contracted warehouse is appalling and unacceptable. Verizon’s investigation is an important first step, but now the company must agree to meet with us on next steps to put the female workers’ safety front and center.”
“The Teamsters are proud to support these brave workers as they come forward with the shocking truth about sexual harassment at the Verizon-contracted warehouse,” said James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “Verizon leaders have a responsibility to follow through on their zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and make sure the horrific, illegal working conditions at XPO end now.”