On July 21, NELA and the National Institute for Workers’ Rights, along with the Texas Employment Lawyers Association (TELA), filed an amicus brief in the 5th Circuit on behalf of the appellee in Harris v. FedEx. This case is FedEx’s appeal of a significant verdict against it under Section 1981 for retaliating against Ms. Harris when she complained about racial discrimination at work. Harris’ verdict was obtained by NELA members Brian P. Sanford and Elizabeth (B.B.) Sanford (The Sanford Firm, TX).
The amicus brief focused on FedEx’s claim that the court should have enforced the contractually-shortened statute of limitations contained in FedEx’s standard job application, which says that any claim needs to be brought within six months. Our brief argued that it was unreasonable to shorten Section 1981’s statute of limitations from four years, as specified in the statute, to just six months. In making this argument, we pointed both to Texas’ public policy interests in keeping access to courts generally and on contract claims specifically, and also explained that the practicalities of litigation and finding counsel meant that six months was far too short a time for prospective plaintiffs like Harris. Many thanks to NELA/TELA member Walt Taylor (Taylor Law Firm, TX) and TELA member Tyler Talbert (Scanes Yelverton Talbert, LLP, TX) for their work in drafting the brief.