Recently, a federal court in Richmond, VA dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by postal employee Harold Moss. In the suit, Moss claimed his superiors retaliated against him after he complained about certain mail counts, reports and delivery practices.
Moss instituted the civil action against the Postmaster General for : (1) a violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act (2) a civil rights violation (3) gender discrimination and (4) retaliation. The first three claims with withdrawn, leaving only the claim for retaliatory employment discrimination.
As the court noted: Whistleblowing is not protected activity within the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and any consequent retaliation for whistleblowing is simply not actionable.
According to court papers:
Between the years 2002 and 2004 Harold Moss was a Supervisor of Customer Services at the Northside Station Postal Facility in Richmond, Virginia, a position through which he became aware of certain mail delivery practices involving his direct supervisor that he believed to be improper. Moss attempted to make his concerns known to supervisors within the chain of command, including the Manager of Customer Service Operations and the person to whom his supervisor reported, though to no avail.
Moss’ complaints primarily focused on multiple denials of leave and being reprimanded for his failure to abide by Postal Service dress code (wearing a tie). However, the supervisor and manager are alleged to have “initiated and continued systemic and daily harassments and abuses against [Moss],” including:
(1) directing him to falsify mail counts and reports;(2) ordering him to discipline employees when discipline was not warranted;(3) belittling him in front of others;(4) assigning menial and humiliating work details;(5) threatening discipline and penalties;(6) denying leave time;(7) isolating him from others;(8) denying training and advancement opportunities; and (9) denying promotion opportunities.
The court’s decision stated in part that Moss’allegations “regarding the dress code policy do not rise to the level of a materially adverse employment action. The Postal Service dress code requires male employees to wear ties while on duty. The dress code is made known to employees, and its observance is expected. Neglecting to dress in proper attire will expose an employee to some form of censure, which is exactly what happened to Moss. The Plaintiff attended work without his tie, and as luck would have it, on a day when an upper-level supervisor visited. Mr. Archer saw the Plaintiff, saw that he was not properly attired, and simply asked why. This appears to be the extent of the encounter; there was no further censure, punishment, or reprimand. To be candid, Moss’s complaint amounts to little more than a common frustration shared by generations of white-collared workers, dating from the very hour at which neckwear was first conceived. Professional dress, neckties included, is simply an occupational hazard of middle management. Under these facts, no reasonable person could suppose that the “tie incident,” as it has been termed, is anything more than a “minor annoyance” of the modern workplace. It is certainly not actionable. ”
Case was dismissed.