Red-faced FedEx distances itself from Tennessee lobby group

FedEx Corp has had to issue a statement asserting that it opposes discrimination, after a business group it backs lobbied for discriminatory legislation in the US state of Tennessee. The company has a member on the board of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, a group which has been actively pushing state lawmakers to pass a bill that prohibits city and county authorities from adopting anti-discrimination laws.

But, FedEx has insisted it did not lobby for the bill, which became law yesterday afternoon when it was signed by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

“While FedEx is a member of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, we do not support every position proposed by the Chamber,” said the company in a statement.

Tennessee SB632/HB600 was passed by the state’s senate last week, with critics warning that it blocks municipalities from adopting legal protections against discrimination based on race as well as sexuality. Originally the bill aimed to reverse nondiscrimination measures adopted by the city of Nashville.

The bill and the support for the legislation from the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce caught out a number of big corporations who are also represented on the group’s board of directors.

Human rights groups have been pressuring the companies to use their influence to urge the Governor to veto the law. The likes of Whirlpool, UnitedHealth Group, Comcast, KPMG, Alcoa and Dupont all issued statements distancing themselves from the bill and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce.

FedEx issued a statement downplaying its representation on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and insisting it “did not lobby for Tennessee SB632/HB600”.

“It is our policy not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” the company said.

“FedEx values and promotes the unique contributions, perspectives, and differences of our team members worldwide. FedEx does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

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