Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against USPS For Privacy Violations

July 30, 2007 by
Filed under: legal cases, postal employees, usps 

 A 10-year employee of the U.S. Postal Service filed a lawsuit Monday accusing the agency of selling the personal information of its workers to credit card and other companies without consent.

Lance McDermott, a mechanic for mail-processing equipment, said in the U.S. District Court complaint that he has been inundated with credit card, cell phone and life insurance offers in the past two years — but that’s not what most troubles him. In some instances, it appears the Postal Service provided the companies with eight-digit employee identification numbers, used for sensitive tasks such as accessing health care records, the complaint said.

McDermott said he was deluged with offers from Visa, Sprint Nextel Corp. and other companies

McDermott’s complaint cited the Postal Service’s April 2005 “Guidelines for Privacy” handbook, which included a section on direct marketing to workers: “Growing revenue is a critical strategy for the Postal Service,” it said, and for that reason, the agency would allow companies to bid for the right to mail promotional offers to Postal Service workers. The offers arrive “cobranded” with the Postal Service’s logo

source: Associated Press

Below is the Press Release from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

Copy of Complaint(PDF) | Join the suit

Postal Employees Cry Foul over Alleged USPS Privacy Violations

SEATTLE- Today Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the United States Postal Service (USPS) on behalf of all employees, claiming the Federal government agency has violated terms of the Privacy Act and distributed contact information of its employees to marketing partners.

According to the filed complaint USPS has allowed private businesses, as part of its Strategic Business Initiatives plan, to access and utilize its ‘employee master file’ that contains private information including home addresses of all career and non-career, full and part-time employees.

The complaint states the business initiatives plan allows private corporations to submit bids for co-branding agreements. Under these agreements the USPS logo is branded on various marketing materials and sent to the private residences of USPS employees.

“It appears that USPS is sharing sensitive employee information to a wide range of marketers, hawking everything from cell phones to credit cards,” said Steve Berman, lead attorney and managing partner of HBSS. “Not only do we think this sort of activity is illegal, we think it sets a very bad example as the nation’s second largest employer.”

Specifically Berman cites potential violations of the U.S. Privacy Act, which spells out very strict protections prohibiting employers from sharing employee information within federal agencies.

According to the complaint USPS recognizes that it is subject to the protection requirements of the Privacy Act. The postal service outlines the Privacy Act’s specifications on its Web site and in its handbook. Among those is a mandate to protect the privacy its customers, employees, individuals and suppliers and a requirement not to disclose personal, private information from employee records without the employee’s prior written consent – yet it is still happening.

The plaintiff alleges he has been subject to numerous mailings of these sorts for approximately the past two years and says he was never made aware of the ‘opt-in’ ‘opt-out’ programs which USPS claims are available.

“Our client is outraged that an organization he has dedicated the last 10 years of his life would be so quick to sell his personal information for a quick buck,” said Berman. “We expect a huge outpouring from postal employees throughout the U.S. who have experienced the same thing.”

The USPS is a Federal government agency that delivers mail daily to more than 300 million people at 146 million homes, businesses, and post office boxes throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands and American Samoa. USPS has an annual operating budget of $73 billion which is generated through sale of postage and money from other business ventures.

This class action suit seeks to recover the amounts which USPS unjustly received through the co-branding agreements and for the use of employees’ private information to be stopped.

source:  Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro 

Comments

No Comments on Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against USPS For Privacy Violations

  1. Jack on Mon, 30th Jul 2007 3:00 pm
  2. Having worked in the Postal Service as long as I have, nothing the Postal Service does surprises me. I just toss everything that looks like it is commercial postal service endorsed.

  3. wizard on Mon, 30th Jul 2007 5:04 pm
  4. I have worked for postal service for 23 years as a carrier and i do not trust them. vote NO

  5. BR on Mon, 30th Jul 2007 7:11 pm
  6. I filed a class action grievance here in local 334 about giving out our info to those benefit scammers (benefit solutions? or somethin like that). They had our name, work address, and tour/pay location number). That’s not too mention all the access that 204b’s get to employee info, even when they r jumpin back and forth to craft. Postal management can be very dirty, don’t trust em ya’ll, you’ll regret it eventually!

  7. sonja childres on Tue, 31st Jul 2007 3:24 pm
  8. I AM HAVING A PROBLEM AT MY OFFICE WITH MANAGERS
    LEAVING OUT LEAVE FORMS WITH SS# ON THEM AND ALSO
    NOT LOCKING FILE CABINETS WITH PERSONAL INFO IN THEM. ASLO SOMEONE HAS GOT INTO MY FILES ON 2
    OCCASSIONS. ALL THIS FALLS UNDER THE PRIVACY ACT.
    MANAGEMENT DOES NOT SIMPLY CARE.

  9. dumpster diver on Tue, 31st Jul 2007 5:49 pm
  10. You should check out the trash cans out of your Postmasters / Managers office— don’t think they know how to use a shredder

  11. Retired on Wed, 1st Aug 2007 12:48 am
  12. If management could actually manage, they would have real jobs in private industry that pay real money with profit sharing, bonuses and other real incentives.

    What do you expect?

    All they get is Pay for Performance or whatever the flavor of the month is for manipulating the numbers on the reports.

    But no matter how poorly management manages, no matter how stupid and incompetent they are, or even how dishonest and corrupt they have become, it is always the unions fault! Just ask them, they will tell you!

    I feel bad for you kids still doing your time there. Good luck, you may get to retire someday if they don’t sink the boat first.

  13. jack potter on Wed, 1st Aug 2007 9:12 pm
  14. find the bastard that did this and i’ll bet you find he got a promotion, bonus and free parking at L’Enfant Plaza.=, courtesy of Donahue

  15. david on Sun, 5th Aug 2007 12:35 pm
  16. so far after 30 years nothing the post office management does surprises me, it about time to turn things around , do you guys and gals realize that if we had one union i mean for all clerks carriers mailhandlers ,and all others we might be able to watch each others backs, but regreatfully there are those who would sell their souls to be president or vice for such an organization think about it, stop the coruption, each of us pay 5 ,$10.00 a pay period for the best dental and health there ever was. why not?

  17. Michelle on Wed, 8th Aug 2007 9:22 am
  18. The info is even recnt as one of the agencies trying to give me benefit info even had my recent paygrade on it as I just bid on a T-6 swing. I got know where when trying to find out who was giving out the info. Please send me a way to opt out ASAP.

    Thanks

  19. Steve on Wed, 15th Aug 2007 12:05 pm
  20. Every year the USPS sends documents(training, etc)with personal information to be shredded at some undisclosed location. We are not offered an oppurtunity to look and see if the personal informatgion is taken off these records or not.

  21. ken on Sat, 18th Aug 2007 8:57 am
  22. I have been getting the visa card app. for about 4 months, i couldnt understand why the PO was getting in the credit card business until i read one of the app. Dont like them giving my address to anyone unless its needed.

  23. delorew on Thu, 20th Sep 2007 5:57 pm
  24. i have recieved credit card applications with the postal service logo on it since i joined the postal service over twenty years ago. infact i applied for the card thinking it was from the postal service. i’ve recieved two applications this week and its only thursday.

  25. Mother Hen on Sun, 17th Feb 2008 9:18 pm
  26. Just a quick thought? How many supervisors have gone through a good background check since they’ve been hired, before they stepped up? Alot of things happen between the time they origanally get hired and when they become supervisors. They have all kinds of access to your personal information. Including your SSN and DOB etc. You tell me that someone that could possibly have a drug habit or gambling problem, or whatever… couldn’t help themselves to some privlaged info if they were really in a bind. Think about it.

  27. not given on Tue, 23rd Dec 2008 1:42 am
  28. if i was the postal workers union i would be worried about getting arrested for lieing about when you deliver before noon packages. 3 of the last 4 never make it before noon and you crooks never refund the money. you modify the little signature box to suit your illegal activity for your own benefit. you mark it delivered when you leave the post office! how bout that 20001 and 22202? the arrest warrents are coming!