Arbitrator Awards Clerk $50,000 for Postal Inspectors Misconduct

August 30, 2007 by
Filed under: APWU, contract, postal inspectors 

The following are excerpts from an August 23, 2007 arbitration award [via 21cpw.com] that documents abuse of a clerk by postal inspectors in Clifton, AZ. The Union grieved under Article 2 and 17 of the National Agreement and got $50,000.00 in damages. APWU was represented by Steve Zamanakos, National Business Agent, Denver Region.

Award: The grievance is properly before me under the provisions of Art. 2.3. The Inspectors violated Art. 2.1 & Postal Bulletin 21826: their conduct on May 27, 1999 created a hostile work environment for the Grievant. They also violated Art. 17.3, the MOU, a Step 4 Decision, & Inspection Service protocols by denying the Grievant representation. Dent violated ELM provisions when he interjected himself into the CA-1 process. The Agency failed to adequately supervise the Inspectors, failed to cooperate with the Union during the grievance process and failed to investigate the Grievant’s sexual harassment claim in violation of Postal Bulletin 21826. The grievance is sustained and damages awarded.

Background
Between March 29, 1999 and May 14, 1999, four of the daily deposits from the Clifton (AZ) Station allegedly arrived in Phoenix with checks, but without cash. Beverly Shupe, Clifton Postmaster, contacted Postal Inspector James Reid for assistance to clear up the question of the missing cash.

On May 26, 1999 Reid and Postal Inspector Richard Dent visited the Clifton oflice and spoke to Shupe. It was determined that the Grievant prepared the first three deposits and verified the fourth. The Grievant was not at work on the 26th…

Shupe testified she told the Grievant that the Inspectors were going to take her, the Grievant, to the Morenci Motel (about 7 miles from Clifton) to question her about the missing cash.

According to the Grievant’s statement, Reid said “let’s drive towards Safford and talk “‘ The Grievant consented. Rather than going to the Morenci Motel, the Inspectors drove the Grievant to a Rarnada Inn in Safford, Arizona about 45 miles from Clifton. A third Postal Inspector, Roy Everetz from California was waiting in an adjoining guestroom at the Ramada for Reid, Dent and the Grievant. At some point during the questioning, one of the Postal Inspectors asked the Grievant if she would agree to take a polygraph exam. The Grievant said that she had “no problem taking the test but had been advised not to take the test”. Everetz had the Grievant sign a consent form that the exam was voIuntary. After administering the polygraph, Everetz allegedly told the Grievant that “he was 99.5% sure I stole that money”. The Grievant was then fingerprinted and photographed by the Postal Inspectors who then drove the Grievant back to the Clifton  Post Ofice arriving at approximately 2: 15 p.m., 6 1/2 hours later.

A grievance was filed timely by the Union alleging that the Grievant was subjected to a hostile work environment by the Service and the Postal Inspectors on May 27, 1999 and that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Article 2.1 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and OWCP regulations were all violated.

The Grievant contacted the Union June 2, 1999 on the advice of Shupe and prepared a statement of events of May 27. The Grievant told Inspectors that she “would feel better if I spoke to my postmaster or the postmaster representative Sue Coburn” to get guidance. According to the protocols outlined by Felton, everything should have stopped right then. The Inspectors refused her request. The Grievant wrote: “They said that would be fine, but was not necessary.” The Grievant then stated that she “wanted to call my husband, because a lot of time had passed and he did not even know I was in Safford ” That request was also denied by the Inspectors who said “that was fine, but Beverly knew where I was.” The Inspectors lied and talked the Grievant out of representation and her Weingarten rights.

The Inspectors stopped the Grievant from leaving the motel. According to Felton that would not be proper. She was photographed, both profile and straight on which according to her statement made her feel sick to her stomach. She was also told that all the evidence in the polygraph pointed to her and it was suggested she not talk to anyone about it.

According to Felton, Postal Inspectors do not talk to anyone who is not involved in the investigation. When Dent talked to Yvonne in Injury Compensation about the Grievant’s CA-1 claim he revealed sensitive information to get himself out of a jam. Injury Compensation should not have received any information from him regarding the investigation and his opinion that the Grievant was guilty of a crime. Injury Compensation claims have a life of their own. It is designed to be an independent, not an adversarial process that should not be interfered with by Dent who had no right to contact Injury Compensation.

 According to Shupe’s written statement of June 4, 1999 Yvonne said “OWCP is really going to be paying on this one.” Shupe further testified that one hour later Yvonne called her back and told her to change the Grievant’s timecard to sick leave or annual leave and that she could not process it as continuation of pay because the Grievant might be guilty and it might be hard to get the money back. Yvonne told Shupe that she received this instruction from her supervisor. Dent also told Shupe on June 8~ that he talked to Yvonne.

Kidnapping allegation
Loosely defined, kidnapping is the act of abduction or carrying off a person by force or fraud. The Grievant consented to ride around with Dent and Reid to answer their questions about the missing Postal funds. Neither Reid nor Dent was forthright with the Grievant or Shupe. It is apparent that their intent all along was to take the Grievant to Safford for a polygraph examination. It was a deceit perpetrated by the Inspectors who were acting within the course and scope of their employment to gain an unfair advantage over the Grievant by taking her 45 miles away from her work location to a place where there was no public transportation back to Clifton. While a kidnapping accusation is better left to the criminal justice system to determine, the acts of the Inspectors shock the conscience from an industrial jurisprudence perspective. An employee does not waive his or her rights under a collective bargaining agreement by submitting to such conduct.

Inspectors were not forthright with Shupe or the Grievant, both of whom should have been told the interview/interrogation was going to be conducted at the Ramada Inn and not at the Morenci. The Inspection Service protocol requires the employee know up front where the interview will take place. A motel or hotel is appropriate only when there are no other suitable accon~modations. There was a police station in both Clifton and Safford. There is no evidence that either one of those two locations or the Safford postal facility was considered for the interview/interrogation and polygraph examination. During the time that the Grievant was undergoing multiple polygraph examinations the process was being monitored by Reid and/or Dent in an adjoining motel room. Inspection Service protocol indicates that when an examiner administers a polygraph to an employee of the opposite sex, a witness should be present to monitor the
examination if it is not videotaped and/or audiotape recorded.

The USPS claims that there was no Investigative Memorandum prepared by any of the three Inspectors because the investigation was ongoing. There was no evidence to indicate that Everetz, Dent or Reid was involved in any “continuing” investigation concerning the Clifton office. Assuming arguendo that they were involved in a continuing investigation, it surely must have concluded at some point in the eight years prior to the Hearing of this grievance. Investigative Memorandums I have reviewed in the past are very detailed and quite thorough. To contend that no report of any kind was prepared strains credulity.

Remedy
While reluctant to fashion a remedy which provides money for work not done, there are times when an award of damages is the only appropriate remedy. This is one. The improper conduct of the Inspectors in this case cannot simply be reversed ipso facto by their retirement.” Nor can the conduct be reversed by a claim that they were acting appropriately and in accordance with established Inspection Service protocols. I find that they were not. To not award monetary damages against them individually and against the Agency would create a dangerous precedent that misconduct by Postal Inspectors and violations of the collective bargaining agreement could be nullified simply by retirement or hture adherence to proper protocols. Retirement does not shield them from the consequences of their actions on May 27, 1999 and the actions of Dent subsequent thereto.

 

Comments

No Comments on Arbitrator Awards Clerk $50,000 for Postal Inspectors Misconduct

  1. retired1 on Thu, 30th Aug 2007 9:56 am
  2. INCOMPETENT POSTAL INSPECTORS should of had to pay 1 million dollars for this egregious violation of the clerk’s rights!

  3. Postalchic on Thu, 30th Aug 2007 10:51 am
  4. This a message for all Postal Inspectors you are not to conduct yourselves like you are on a witch hunt with Postal Employees. You want the employees to follow the rules? Then you are expected to follow the rules too!

  5. anonymous on Thu, 30th Aug 2007 3:58 pm
  6. I guess I missed something.What happened to the missing money?

  7. shop steward on Thu, 30th Aug 2007 5:58 pm
  8. The inspectors took it to pay for hotel….

  9. Retired on Fri, 31st Aug 2007 12:55 pm
  10. Dang it! There goes another job perk for the Inspection Service. How are we supposed to attract new bullies, megalomaniacs and social reprobates to the Inspection Service now? In the old days when voyeurism was enough we had no problem meeting recruiting goals because of all of the lookout galleries we had. But with the advent of DVD pornography, watching people from behind mirrors and and with hidden cameras doesn’t have the appeal it used to.

    I’m glad I’m retired.

  11. adolph hitler on Fri, 31st Aug 2007 9:20 pm
  12. souns like my SS boys again

  13. leonard on Sat, 1st Sep 2007 2:55 pm
  14. this is a civil rights violation.under the 8th amendment to the constitution a person is to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.The union should have told her to put in a civil rights complaint and seek damages of $5,000,000 dollars. By moving to a civil right complaint that postal inspector would have been sued in his official and individual capacity along with the post master,post master general and post office it self.By putting in thi kind of complaint the postal inspector and other parties would have had to spend at least $10,000 for a lawyers in there individual capacity.These unions are not realy helping,they are really giving the post office help because a violation like this would have took 1 year for a trial not 8 years later.

  15. Aechaius on Sat, 1st Sep 2007 10:11 pm
  16. USPS will have to garnish the now retired inspectors retirement if they don’t come up with the money separately.

    Why doesn’t APWU runs public ads about his stuff? As these goons are likley doing law enforcement type work in retirement, APWU should track them down, locate their current employers (particulary if it is a municipal agency) and provide a copy of this decision to put them on notice about their conduct – It is absolutely disgraceful.

    Leonard is right about the civil rights violation tactic – although it shold have been done concurrently with the EEO.

    Now she should go on Oprah to talk about about how USPS still abuses its female employees.

    I love the part where the PIS was concerned she “might run out into the street” if they let her leave voluntarily – how thoughful.

  17. James on Thu, 13th Sep 2007 8:34 am
  18. I guess, this is an isolated incident and many such occurances just slip by out of the blue and unaware and unsuspected employees just get fearfull of losing job and afraid to take further action to bring the erroring officials to justice. I strongly feel that it is also the duty of Union to educate members by sending more detailed news letters. I know that APWU is doing pretty OKay but much more need to be done.
    Congradulations to Grievant and as well as the National Business Agent
    God Bless Y’all

  19. Arbee on Sun, 16th Sep 2007 12:17 pm
  20. This is not an issolated incident by moronic inspectors. Do a google search for “Karen Reed Idabel” for another such story. Instead of her being compensated for the harassment and kidnapping by a postal inspector, she lost her job and had a nervous breakdown. Because I was involved as an union officer, they also came after me and consequently, I’m retired.

  21. Seen It Before on Sun, 9th Dec 2007 10:33 am
  22. This is nothing new. Postal Inspectors have been running wild for years;there is no oversight of these people.
    They have conducted bogus ‘drug stings’ that cost postal employees their jobs, families and homes and the ‘suppliers’ used the ‘buy money’to purchase clothes for themselves, and lied about what postal employees were actually ‘using’.
    They set an innocent man up for arrest after basically forcing the man to accept pornography through the mail.
    They also committed the same kidnapping incident complained of here.
    They never receive jail time for the crimes they commit.

  23. Barney Fife on Wed, 19th Dec 2007 4:34 am
  24. Postal Inspectors have a college degree but not the manhood to be F.B.I., C.I.A or or Secret Service. They fondle their genitals while watching some mark take a quarter off the workroom floor. LOSERS

  25. Jack on Fri, 28th Dec 2007 2:41 pm
  26. This arbitrator seems to have it in for the Inspectors. I’m not saying that they did nothing wrong, but I have dealt with a few arbitrators who fail to mention the whole story. By the way, the arbitrator doesn’t seem to realize that once a postal employee is retired his pension can’t be garnished. It comes from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). They don’t take orders from the USPS or this arbitrator. Inspectors know this well because a lot of postal employees that retire get away with whatever money they’ve stolen – unless they get prosecuted.
    It’s very apparent that this arbitrator isn’t very law enforcement friendly. Tricks like taking a suspect away from their residence/office to talk to them are common practice for investigators – local and federal. To say that it “shocks the concience” only goes to show this arbitrator is a bleeding heart liberal who wants to take away all tools available to investigators and leave them with no way to obtain a confession. If they had interviewed at the P.O. some union rep would have talked her out of the polygraph and probably out of talking all together. How many crooks would be caught if investigators didn’t have any tricks up their sleeves? Just because it’s a trick doesn’t mean it’s illegal or shouldn’t be used. This crook had Mirand read to her. She wanted to talk to management, not a union rep. They didn’t deny her the union rep. She failed to ask for one. Weingarten didn’t included speaking to management. It seems the arbitrator didn’t know that either. Bottom line: The crook got away with her crimes and got $50,000 to boot. The Inspectors got fined but they’re retired and OPM won’t garnish wages. Think about what the employee did for a change rather than what the arbitrator claims “shocks the concience.” He should have checked with other investigators to see what is common pratice rather than look at this case from an outsider’s point of view. Maybe we should use former law enforcement officers/agents as arbitrators. Then we would have a more fair perspective of what an Inspector should and should not be doing.

  27. Angry on Fri, 25th Jan 2008 8:37 am
  28. You are wrong. OPM DOES garnish retirements on the say so of the USPS. USPS sends OPM some paperwork to say that the retired person owes USPS money and lo and behold, the annuity check is garnished.

  29. Jack on Fri, 8th Feb 2008 9:51 pm
  30. The garnishment only applies shortly after retirement – in case the USPS made a mistake in accounting. It doesn’t apply to fines created by some arbitrator. I know. I’ve tried to attach retirement earnings before. An arbitrator doesn’t have the power.

  31. Carl C. Retired NBA on Fri, 15th Feb 2008 1:17 pm
  32. This award is right on. Nice job Steve.
    This should also serve notice to the Inspection
    Service that their conduct is subject to review.
    I’m sure that the USPS will challenge the
    arbitrator’s decision/authority. It will be
    interesting to see if the award is complied
    with

  33. Anonymous on Tue, 15th Apr 2008 3:07 pm
  34. i hate thevway the post office sneaks around

  35. sick of The games on Tue, 27th May 2008 12:23 pm
  36. Craft personal speaking here, I called the inspectors on a supervisor once, You know what they told me: “Well we work for the other side,I cant help you,”I dont know what to say”. Management,can be totally in the wrong, and nothing happens to them, nothing!!!!!!

  37. Been There on Wed, 23rd Jul 2008 7:19 am
  38. The only thing I can even say about the PIS is that I wouldn’t call them for help if an armed gunman was at my window and I was sure I would be shot. The local yocal cops would be much more helpful and they are barely wet behind the ears. The inspectors are on an ego trip of some sort that I can’t figure where they get it except from each other. You’re right. Management can be totally wrong and nothing happens to them. That’s because they set their sites on easier prey and put management up to what they do as well as scared co-workers. It’s unbelievable and illegal. I had hoped the OIG taking over some of their duties would help but all I’ve seen lately are the bad inspectors going to work for the IG. It’s a losing battle all the way around.

  39. Retired Moe on Wed, 17th Dec 2008 10:18 am
  40. This is the way the Post Office’s answer to the Gestapo works. They should have been give at least 5 years jail time, fired from their jobs and the fined.

  41. macktheknife on Sat, 3rd Jan 2009 11:25 pm
  42. Once the post office pulls a Soviet Union,they’ll all be out of a job.

  43. Milagros Lagares on Fri, 27th Mar 2009 8:33 am
  44. Can I claim my husbands veterans points towards retirement?