USPS Settles Class Action Discrimination Lawsuit Filed For Disabled Veterans
According to Hill vs Potter : Clarence Hill filed a class complaint alleging that the Postal Service discriminated against him and all disabled veteran applicants by making improper pre-employment medical inquiries. On February 18, 2011, Judge Davi named Corey Baskerville, Zedrick Jenkins,and Frank Vander Haar as additional Class Agents. Clarence Hill has not agreed to the settlement as yet. His objections to the settlement agreement will be the subject of a separate post.
Overview of case: This lawsuit alleges that on or after March 19, 2004, the U.S. Postal Service violated the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by asking disabled veteran applicants seeking the disabled veterans’ preference to bring medical documentation to an interview, in excess of that required to verify their entitlement to the preference, before conditional offers of employment were made. The Rehabilitation Act prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s present or prior medical status before making a conditional offer of employment to the applicant. Once the employer has made a conditional offer of employment, even an offer conditioned on passing a medical exam or review, the Rehabilitation Act permits a disability-related inquiry. The USPS has admitted that it violated the Rehabilitation Act by making medical inquiries before conditional offers of employment in 60 districts during specific time periods.
The settlement agreement in part states:
After the instant Class Complaint was filed and continuing through the lengthy discovery process, the USPS undertook a far-reaching process to determine which of its Districts had a pattern or practice of violating the Rehabilitation Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(2), by asking disabled veteran applicants seeking disabled veterans’ preference to bring medical documentation to an interview, in excess of that required to verify their entitlement to that preference, before a conditional offer of employment has been made, and what steps needed to be taken to bring the USPS in compliance with the Rehabilitation Act in the future. As a result of this process, the USPS took a number of important steps to ensure that its staff complies with the Rehabilitation Act and made critical changes to its hiring practices that District human resources staff must follow with respect to disabled veterans who seek the disabled veterans’ preference, some of which are set forth below. The USPS has implemented these changes throughout its 80 Districts.
To protect the rights of future applicants who seek the disabled veterans’ preference, the parties have confirmed the following steps that the USPS has taken to ensure compliance with the Rehabilitation Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(2) and will continue to implement in the future, and additional actions that the USPS will take to ensure that disabled veterans are not subject to preoffer medical inquiries beyond the minimum documentation that is needed to verify the disabled veterans’ preference, which usually takes the form of a brief letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs stating that the applicant has a disability rating from the VA and the relevant percentage of such rating. Accordingly, the parties agree that:
A. Consistent with the Rehabilitation Act, the Postal Service has been and will continue to be committed to not seeking medical information, in the form of documents or otherwise, before extending a conditional offer, with the exception of the voluntary provision of medical disability information as part of the noncompetitive hiring process for persons with severe disabilities.
B. The Postal Service has been requesting, and will continue to request, confirmation of entitlement to veteran’s preference as part of the application process. The Postal Service has been requesting, and will continue to request, that veterans claiming 10-point preference based on a compensable disability submit an SF 15,Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, and a statement showing percentage of disability.
C. Within one year after the Effective Date, the Postal Service will revise Chapter 4 of Handbook EL-312, Employment and Placement, to state that applicants who claim veterans’ preference status involving a veteran’s disability are not asked to provide information related to the nature of the disability or medical conditions.
D. Within one year after the Effective Date, the Postal Service will revise Chapter 4 of Handbook EL-312, Employment and Placement, to state that applicants claiming 10-point preference complete SF 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, and attach the information specified on the back of the SF 15 to
In full settlement of all Potential Class Members’ Claims, the Parties agree to a total settlement of $11.2 million. The sum is comprised of: (1) a Class Fund of $9.58 million (hereinafter the “Class Fund”),unless otherwise modified by Section 8(B) of this Agreement, which shall be distributed to Eligible Class Members through the payment of Settlement Shares and Service Awards; (2) $250,000 to cover the estimated cost of Settlement Services, Inc.’s settlement administration and processing of claims; (3) $1.35 million for attorneys’ fees and costs paid to Class Counsel; and (4) up to $20,000 to be paid to the Complainant or added to the Class Fund pursuant to Section 8(B).
Other than the USPS’ agreement that there is evidence of a pattern or practice of the Challenged Practice in the districts and time periods set forth in Exhibit A, the USPS expressly denies any wrongdoing or liability with regard to the allegations contained in the Administrative Class Complaint.
If you wish to challenge the USPS’ records that show you are not an eligible Class Member you may file a challenge with the Settlement Administrator, postmarked by August 8, 2011.
Hill v. Donahoe Settlement Administrator
Post Office Box 1367
Tallahassee, FL 32302-1367
IF YOU WISH TO CHALLENGE YOUR INELIGIBILITY
If you did not receive a Claim Form with your Notice, USPS’ records show that you did not apply in one of those 60 Districts, or did not apply during a time period when there was evidence of a pattern of the USPS asking disabled veteran applicants to bring medical documentation in excess of that required to verify their entitlement to a preference to an interview before an offer of employment is made. Class Members are eligible to file Claim Forms if they applied in one of the 60 USPS Districts and time periods (for each such District) where there is evidence of a pattern of the USPS asking disabled veteran applicants to bring medical documentation, in excess of that required to verify their entitlement to the preference, to an interview before an offer of employment is made.
Over 26,000 Eligible Class Members may receive an equal share of the $9.58 million Class Fund (less service awards), up to $1,000 per person by filing a timely claim form with the Settlement Administrator. You are an Eligible Class Member if you (1) applied for employment within a USPS District during a time period listed for the corresponding district listed in the Settlement Agreement and (2) sought the disabled veterans’ preference. If you are an Eligible Class Member, you will receive a claim form in the same package as the Notice of the Settlement Agreement.
For a list of those Districts and time periods, click here.