In September 2021, several news outlets and websites reported that FedEx had fired a Washington state driver who posted a video online in which he bragged that he had been refusing to deliver packages to customers he deemed to be politically left-leaning, or insufficiently patriotic.
On Sept. 25, for example, Yahoo! News republished an article originally posted by TheGrio.com, which bore the headline "FedEx fires driver who refused to deliver to homes with flags representing BLM, Biden administration." The article asserted that:
A former FedEx driver who vowed in a profanity-laced video to never deliver packages to houses championing the Black Lives Matter movement, Joe Biden, or Kamala Harris has since been fired — and now won't be delivering packages to any houses at all.
First reported by TooFab on Friday, the delivery company terminated employee Vincent Paterno, 39, after catching wind of a TikTok video in which Paterno smugly states he will not extend services to any house with a flag representing BLM, the President or VP...
That Sept. 24 article, by the website TooFab.com, contained a statement from FedEx which confirmed that Paterno no longer worked on behalf of the company:
The company confirmed to TooFab will indeed not be delivering packages to those houses — or any other, in fact.
"We are appalled by the behavior depicted in this video, which does not reflect the views of FedEx," a spokesperson said. "This individual is no longer providing service on behalf of the company."
For understandable reasons, many observers interpreted this statement as meaning that Paterno had been fired, and several reports to that effect followed, including the aforementioned articles published by TooFab.com and TheGrio.com, but also HITC.com, KUBE 93.3, Black Enterprise, and The Shade Room.
However, Paterno himself contradicted those claims in a subsequent TikTok video, insisting that he was not fired, but rather had arranged in advance for Sept. 16 — the date on which he posted the original anti-Biden video — to be his last day working on behalf of FedEx.
Snopes asked FedEx to resolve this discrepancy, and to clarify whether Paterno had been fired — a perception created by FedEx's own public statement — or had voluntarily left his job. Despite our repeated attempts to obtain clarification of those facts, FedEx repeatedly refused to offer any substantive response, and also failed to provide contact details for an independent contractor who operates the route on which Paterno worked.
As such, we are issuing a rating of "Unproven." If relevant evidence becomes available, or if FedEx provides the clarification requested, we will update this fact check accordingly.
How the Story that Paterno Was 'Fired' Came About
Before we go any further, an important piece of background information: Paterno was not, technically, an employee of FedEx. He worked for a "service provider" who operates a FedEx Ground route. FedEx Ground is a subsidiary of FedEx, and it contracts out package delivery to thousands of independent contractors around the country who, in turn, hire workers, including drivers such as Paterno.
Paterno posted his original video to TikTok on Sept. 16. An edited transcript can read below:
...I just wanted to come on here and let all of you know — if you don't have a flag in front of your house, and if you have a Joe Biden, [Kamala Harris] [sign] posted up in front of your house, Black Lives Matter, I will not deliver your shit. I will not deliver your shit. I will bring that back to the station. And I will keep doing that shit...
Around one week later, reports emerged online that FedEx had fired him, based solely on the statement provided by the company, which expressed strong disapproval of his remarks, and said "This individual is no longer providing service on behalf of the company."
Although FedEx did not explicitly state that Paterno had been fired, the ambiguity in their statement clearly created that impression, which was pervasive, as evidenced by the multiple online articles and news reports to that effect.
On Sept. 26, Paterno posted a follow-up video, refuting reports that he had been fired, and insisting he had arranged in advance for Sept. 16 to be his last day working on behalf of FedEx. In support of that claim, he presented redacted screenshots of text messages which he claimed he had sent to his colleagues and supervisor, well in advance of Sept. 16.
Snopes has not been able to verify the authenticity of those text messages; but if they are authentic, they strongly suggest Paterno had indeed arranged to stop working for FedEx in advance — with his final workday initially scheduled to be Sept. 3, but then pushed back to Sept. 16. This would in turn strongly suggest he had not been fired.
Snopes asked FedEx to clarify whether Paterno had quit or been fired. A spokesperson for FedEx Ground refused to do so, claiming that the company does not "discuss details regarding the personnel of service providers" — that is, workers hired by the contractors who operate individual routes.
However, this explanation was contradicted by the fact that FedEx had already commented publicly, not only describing Paterno's behavior as "appalling," but also confirming that he had once worked on behalf of FedEx Ground, and now no longer did.
Indeed, if FedEx had actually stuck to its stated policy and declined to "discuss details" regarding Paterno's employment status, in the first place, then there would have been no basis for the subsequent reports that he had been fired.
We asked FedEx about this, making it clear that the widespread public perception that Paterno was fired stemmed entirely from the company's own statement, and sending the company a copy of Paterno's Sept. 26 video, which contained his strenuous denial that he was fired, as well as evidence that suggested he had instead left his job voluntarily.
FedEx refused, again, to clarify whether Paterno had quit his job, or been fired. Snopes repeatedly asked FedEx for contact details for the independent contractor or "service provider" who operates Paterno's former route, in order to gain clarification of the facts from them. FedEx did not acknowledge or respond to those requests.