This is an update on the nationwide class action court case involving Postal employees filed two years ago. Postal Employees claimed that USPS violated the Privacy Act by selling its employee master file, containing personal, private employee information, including “the complete home address database of all career and non-career, full and part-time employees.
According to lawsuit, the Postal Service’s disclosure of information is evidenced by the Postal Service’s “Strategic Business Initiatives Plan, Management Instruction – AS-333-2004-7,” a postal regulation that allows private corporations to submit competitive bids for co-branding and other types of marketing agreements using the employee master file. Postal Employees complained that all of this is done without the Postal Service employee’s approval, consent, or knowledge. They also argued that the Postal Service received more than $8.5 million in profit by selling its employee master file.
The Postal Service admitted that it engaged in direct marketing of co-branded products and services to its employees but their actions does not violate the Privacy Act. The Postal Service argued in part the lawsuit should be dismissed because (1) it is an improper challenge to a Postal Service regulation, i.e., the “Strategic Business Initiatives Plan, Management Instruction – AS-333-2004-7,” ; (2) it arises out of Postal Employees’ employment relationship with the Postal Service; and (3) there is no clearly defined independent cause of action for unjust enrichment under federal common law.
Postal Employees Can Opt Out
The Strategic Business Initiatives Plan, Management Instruction – AS-333-2004-7 states, “Employees who have questions about receiving mail under this program or their privacy, or if they would like to opt out of mailings under this program, may contact the Privacy Office at:
US Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW RM 10407
Washington, DC 20260-2200
The District Court ruled in part:
Plaintiffs next point out that the Postal Service’s regulation, i.e., the Management Instruction, enriched no one; rather, it was the unjust enrichment from the performance of the co-branding contracts that is at the heart of their complaint. (Sec. Resp. at 19.) But the Postal Service’s performance of the agreements is done pursuant to the Management Instruction, incorporated into the Postal Service regulations at 39 C.F.R. § 211.2(a)(3).
The court finds Plaintiffs’ attempt to circumvent the prohibition against challenging a Postal Service regulation by contending that they are not challenging the regulation itself, but the profits received from enacting the regulation, to amount to a distinction without a difference. The core of Plaintiffs’ claim against the Postal Services is its enactment and implementation of the Management Instruction. Accordingly, the court concludes that Plaintiffs’ claim of unjust enrichment is a direct challenge to the Postal Service’s Management Instruction – the regulation granting it authority to enter into the co-branding agreements – and therefore there is no waiver of the Postal Service’s sovereign immunity for this remaining claim. Accordingly, the court concludes that it does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate Plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment claim based on a Postal Service regulation.
For the reasons stated GRANTS the Postal Service’s motion to dismiss (Dkt. # 55). The court DISMISSES Plaintiffs’ complaint against the Postal Service.
The lawsuit now moves to the Court of Appeals.
Previous story on lawsuit: http://postalreporternews.com/2007/07/30/class-action-lawsuit-filed-against-usps-for-privacy-violations/