Postal Inspectors Sue USPS for Overtime Pay

September 5, 2007 by
Filed under: legal cases, postal inspectors, usps 

A few excerpts from the recent federal case (note: the case was initially filed in 2003)

In a suit brought by current and former postal inspectors against the Postal Service alleging that they are entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), summary judgment for the Postal Service is reversed in part and remanded where: 1) 39 U.S.C. section 1003(c), which requires payment to inspectors on the basis of “comparability” to other similarly tasked executive branch employees, is not in clear conflict with the FLSA; 2) Congress did not implicitly repeal the FLSA’s overtime provisions to plaintiffs; 3) thus, the Postal Service’s construction of section 1003(c) was unreasonable; and 4) a remand was necessary to determine whether the inspectors are otherwise exempt from the FLSA.

This appeal principally involves the relationship between two labor statutes — the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and a 1996 statute related to compensation for postal inspectors, 39 U.S.C. § 1003(c). Robert Nigg, a postal inspector currently employed by the United States Postal Service (”the Postal Service”) and Keith Lewis, a retired postal inspector, sued the Postal Service alleging that the inspectors are entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (”FLSA” or “the Act. The Postal Service does not pay postal inspectors FLSA overtime,  instead claiming that their pay is governed by 39 U.S.C. § 1003(c). At issue is whether the compensation provision in § 1003(c) trumps the overtime provisions of the FLSA

In general, postal inspectors undertake criminal, civil and administrative investigations involving the postal laws.

The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Postal Service, reasoning that 39 U.S.C. § 1003(c), which requires the Postal Service to pay the inspectors on a basis of “comparability” to other similarly tasked executive branch employees, permits the Postal Service to provide “availability pay” rather than FLSA overtime. The court adopted the Postal Service’s argument that postal inspectors are comparable to certain other federal law enforcement officers who receive availability pay under the Law Enforcement Availability Pay Act (LEAP).

FLSA overtime and availability pay differ significantly, both in terms of the hours of work required to qualify, and the way in which pay is calculated. For example, FLSA overtime entitles a covered employee to  overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. In contrast, availability pay requires a covered employee to work an average of two extra hours of overtime per day beyond the eight hour day for the entire year to be entitled to extra pay for the extra hours worked.

FLSA’s overtime provisions presumptively apply to federal employees, such as the inspectors, unless a specific FLSA exemption applies.  (”Each employee is presumed to be FLSA nonexempt unless the employing agency correctly determines that the employee clearly meets one or more of the exemption criteria[.]”). In enacting § 1003(c), Congress did not amend or repeal the FLSA, either explicitly or implicitly. We conclude that § 1003(c) is not clearly in conflict with the FLSA, and that Congress did not impliedly repeal the FLSA. (”‘Repeals by implication . . . are not favored and will only be found when the new[er] statute is clearly repugnant, in words or purpose, to the old statute . . . .’”) .  We reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the Postal Service and remand with instructions to consider whether the inspectors satisfy any FLSA exemption or are entitled to FLSA overtime.

 In a deposition in this case of James K. Belz, a Postal Service executive in charge of budget issues, Belz testified he believed that with the creation of the IG office, longstanding pay inequities for postal inspectors had to be addressed or else the Postal Service inspectors would all seek to leave to go to the IG’s office.

See Full Text of Lawsuit –

 

Comments

13 Comments on Postal Inspectors Sue USPS for Overtime Pay

  1. No Problem on Wed, 5th Sep 2007 12:18 pm
  2. This is one case I’m rooting for the Postal Service. All they need ask is, “what do you do all day?” And they want overtime?

  3. Anonymous on Thu, 6th Sep 2007 3:01 pm
  4. just shows you where the crooks are in the postal mis-mgt family.

  5. adolph hitler on Thu, 6th Sep 2007 9:02 pm
  6. Ach, mein liber–just like the SS. Always wanting more.

  7. postal pete on Thu, 6th Sep 2007 9:06 pm
  8. just like the brutality and harassment by Inspectors in Clifton that must pay $50,000 for what they did to a poor alerk. Gestapo tactics usually associated with Postal Inspectors. Bulllies and they want OT. For what, Harassment, sexual harassment, bullying?

  9. watchdog on Sun, 9th Sep 2007 1:49 pm
  10. We need the overtime to catch more crooked union workers.

  11. want to sue the postal service on Sat, 22nd Sep 2007 11:14 am
  12. i need help now we want to sue the postal service. This is what happened, my wife was pulled over while driving a mail van. The claimed to have found pot in the van. The suspended her from work. The called her in a week later to work for a meeting then arrested her in front of all of her coworkers and jailed her. The case was droped because the police lab said the substance was tobacco, the postal inspectors tried to refile the case, that later case was droped because the court determined the postal inspectors did not follow protocol for handling evidence. She has just returned to work after 2 yrs with out any pay, and has been to work not for 2 week and they still have not given her a PAY CHECK, they are suppose to give her pack pay, damages, nightshift div, and overtime. The postal inspectors are abusing the hell out of her, they are not trying to retaliate against her. We need a lawyer who specializes in suing the US government. please contact me directly Andrewells134@yahoo.com

  13. want to sue the postal service on Sat, 22nd Sep 2007 11:14 am
  14. i need help now we want to sue the postal service. This is what happened, my wife was pulled over while driving a mail van. The claimed to have found pot in the van. The suspended her from work. The called her in a week later to work for a meeting then arrested her in front of all of her coworkers and jailed her. The case was droped because the police lab said the substance was tobacco, the postal inspectors tried to refile the case, that later case was droped because the court determined the postal inspectors did not follow protocol for handling evidence. She has just returned to work after 2 yrs with out any pay, and has been to work not for 2 week and they still have not given her a PAY CHECK, they are suppose to give her pack pay, damages, nightshift div, and overtime. The postal inspectors are abusing the hell out of her, they are not trying to retaliate against her. We need a lawyer who specializes in suing the US government. please contact me directly Andrewells134@yahoo.com

  15. want to sue the postal service on Sat, 22nd Sep 2007 11:14 am
  16. i need help now we want to sue the postal service. This is what happened, my wife was pulled over while driving a mail van. The claimed to have found pot in the van. The suspended her from work. The called her in a week later to work for a meeting then arrested her in front of all of her coworkers and jailed her. The case was droped because the police lab said the substance was tobacco, the postal inspectors tried to refile the case, that later case was droped because the court determined the postal inspectors did not follow protocol for handling evidence. She has just returned to work after 2 yrs with out any pay, and has been to work not for 2 week and they still have not given her a PAY CHECK, they are suppose to give her pack pay, damages, nightshift div, and overtime. The postal inspectors are abusing the hell out of her, they are not trying to retaliate against her. We need a lawyer who specializes in suing the US government. please contact me directly Andrewells134@yahoo.com

  17. want to sue the postal service on Sat, 22nd Sep 2007 11:14 am
  18. i need help now we want to sue the postal service. This is what happened, my wife was pulled over while driving a mail van. The claimed to have found pot in the van. The suspended her from work. The called her in a week later to work for a meeting then arrested her in front of all of her coworkers and jailed her. The case was droped because the police lab said the substance was tobacco, the postal inspectors tried to refile the case, that later case was droped because the court determined the postal inspectors did not follow protocol for handling evidence. She has just returned to work after 2 yrs with out any pay, and has been to work not for 2 week and they still have not given her a PAY CHECK, they are suppose to give her pack pay, damages, nightshift div, and overtime. The postal inspectors are abusing the hell out of her, they are not trying to retaliate against her. We need a lawyer who specializes in suing the US government. please contact me directly Andrewells134@yahoo.com

  19. Anonymous on Tue, 22nd Jan 2008 8:19 pm
  20. nothing happens to management for forcing carriers to work forced overtime of 5 or 6 yrs producing injuries to said carriers. Then carrier gets harassed for being injured & subjected to possible intrusion into medical records trying to treat you like a criminal for being injured. This when you did not want the overtime. Kind of like living in hell, no exactly like living in hell.

  21. teal on Wed, 21st May 2008 3:40 pm
  22. The USPS denied the merits of this case and will not settle. In fact, it has been rumored that they contend postal inspectors were improperly classified as 1811’s and that the inspectors actually owe the USPS $$$.

  23. Benjamin Franklin on Mon, 7th Jul 2008 1:17 pm
  24. When I started in the Postal Inspection Service I was required to work an additional 1.41 hours daily under the Postal Pay Scale. No problem. When the Postal Service changed benefits to mirror the other federal agency investigator pay scale I was required to work an additional 2 hours daily for over 10 years while comparably paid investigators were only required to be available. There was a difference and it should be compensated. For the Postal Service to now say we were misclassified is their problem and they can do what they need to do to fix their problem. Even if they do reclassify us they would still owe 1300 PIs involved in this suit money they saved by not abiding by the law.

  25. Crystal Ball on Sun, 27th Jul 2008 5:54 am
  26. I believe one of the biggest problems with the suit is the belief that if Postal Inspector’s FLSA exemption status is changed, the USPS will continue to allow Postal Inspectors to work 10 hours a day. The belief inspectors will be guaranteed 2 hours of overtime is a HUGE miscalculation in the suit. Inspectors who are retired or close to retirement don’t need to be concerned with this issue. Big budget crunch = no over time. Authorized Overtime- It’s not going to happen. The USPS doesn’t care if there is a trial, or a kiddy porn delivery, or a search warrant – they’re concerned with the bottom line. The majority of those who signed up for the suit are no longer Inspectors and have nothing to lose. If current Inspectors lose their law enforcement premium – say good-bye to 25% of your pay. For that reason, the number of current Inspectors who did not sign up for the suit is greater than those who did. There may be problems with the way work hours are scheduled and compensated; HOWEVER, the angle that the Nigg lawsuit is taking is strategically flawed by the miscalculation. Nigg had an issue with pay that I believe he appropriately tried to address through MSPB. During that case, Nigg tried to argue that Postal Inspectors are exempt. MSPB ruled against Nigg which I believe was an error. There are 3 umbrellas that cover exempt employees – professional, administrative, and one that would never apply to Postal Inspectors. Postal Inspectors were covered under the “administrative” unbrella. It’s now alleged that with the creation of the OIG, Inspector’s jobs have changed and no longer include presentations to employees, etc… Although the job has changed, I believe the job should still be covered under the “administrative” umbrella as Inspectors still perform many of the same functions; however the situations have modernized and now include conducting training for employees concerning anthrax and other bio-hazards. I do not believe Inspector FLSA status should be changed; otherwise Inspectors will be at the mercy of the USPS to authorize overtime to be able to do the job. I agree with the previous posting by Mr. Franklin, but I also believe there is a problem with the strategy applied in the lawsuit. (My belief is that the angle they have chosen best suits the compensation figures for the plaintiff attorneys and not the best interest of the Inspectors.) I agree that Inspectors in many areas, especially those who had to respond or were “scheduled” to work concerning anthrax, hurricane Katrina, 911, Flight 93, flooding, and other incidents – as well as those “scheduled” to assist on cases over the weekend – or “scheduled” for the Division Duty Assignment for the weekend or week SHOULD be compensated somehow in addition to availability – as the hours are “scheduled”. I’ve heard the argument that other federal agencies do not pay overtime on top of availability. I believe this is inaccurate. I also believe that one of the key words is the “scheduling” as availability pay is based on “unscheduled duty”. I believe that involving Inspectors FLSA status was an error. I believe Nigg being turned away from MSPB was wrong.