Nancy Barnette was a route driver for FedEx. By all reasonable accounts, Barnette smashed her delivery truck into a gate leading into a subdivision. The accident caused her passenger-side window to crack and it eventually caved in. Barnette, assisted by a Good Samaritan landscaper (who later testified against Barnette), cleaned up the glass, drove to a new location, called a dispatcher, and reported that her window had been smashed in…by a “pterodactyl”. Yes, you are reading this correctly–a pterodactyl. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, somewhat skeptical of the pterodactyl yarn, referred to the impact as an “aviary incident” and the supposed culprit an “oversized avian”. Nancy L. Barnette v. Federal Express Corporation
Long story short, FedEx also found it hard to believe that a flying dinosaur smashed Barnette’s window, and it fired her for lying, leaving the scene of the accident, and for the accident itself. Barnette claimed she was fired for her gender because male drivers were disciplined, but not fired, for similar driving mishaps, but the trial court and the Eleventh Circuit rejected the claim, finding that all of the evidence supported FedEx’s reasons for firing her. The Eleventh Circuit did not specifically state, but we can only assume, that Barnette was unable to find a comparable male driver whose truck was hit by a pterodactyl but who was not terminated. Your takeaway here—when good flying dinosaurs turn bad, it’s not the employer’s fault.
P.S. One of Barnette’s pieces of evidence supposedly proving gender discrimination—her direct supervisor once exposed his genitals to his co-workers during a softball game.
P.P.S. We don’t make this stuff up, but this is why we love what we do!