updated 6/4/2006 3:32:36 PM ET 2006-06-04T19:32:36

A jury awarded $61 million to two FedEx Ground drivers of Lebanese descent who claimed a manager harassed them with racial slurs for two years.

Edgar Rizkallah, 43, and Kamil Issa, 36, both of Pleasanton, said in the discrimination lawsuit they were called “terrorists,” “camel jockeys” and other epithets in 1999 and 2000 by Stacy Shoun, terminal manager for the Oakland FedEx Ground facility where the two men were contract drivers.

An Alameda County Superior Court jury on Friday awarded the men $50 million in punitive damages, on top of $11 million in compensatory damages the jury awarded them on May 24, a lawyer for the plaintiffs and a FedEx Ground spokesman said Saturday.

Fedex Ground, the Pittsburgh-based trucking division of shipping giant FedEx Corp., plans to appeal. Spokesman Maury Lane said other managers testified that the harassment never happened, but he declined to discuss specifics of the case, citing ongoing litigation.

“The jury’s verdict was wrong and excessive,” Lane said. “The company has strong anti-discriminatory policies, and this is not tolerated.”

Rizkallah and Issa, both Lebanese Americans, accused FedEx Ground and Shoun in the 2001 lawsuit of creating a hostile work environment and causing emotional distress, said their San Francisco attorney, Christopher Dolan.

The men complained to senior managers but the company ignored their claims, Dolan said.

The lawsuit accused FedEx Ground of failing to enforce its anti-discrimination policies.

Testimony included workers who said they witnessed the harassment, Dolan said.

Shoun was ordered to pay $1 million to the drivers as part of the compensatory damages award under a California law allowing individuals to be held personally liable for workplace harassment.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Shoun on Saturday were unsuccessful.

He remains employed by the company, but a spokesman declined to say whether Shoun is still in management.

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