Did USPS properly addressed a Postal Police Officer’s class claim allegation that she was discriminated against because the USPS does not offer self-referral counseling to its Postal Police Officers?
In a complaint dated June 22, 2008, a Postal Police Officer (PPO) in USPS’s Los Angeles Post Office in Pasadena, California maintained that she was subjected to discrimination on the bases of race, national origin, sex (female), religion, color, disability, age, and reprisal for prior protected EEO activity [under Title VII] when, on April 15, 2008, she was made aware that Postal Inspectors are provided with self-referral counseling, which she alleges, has a disparate impact on Postal Police Officers nationwide. The PPO explained that she experienced job related P.T.S.D., when she returned to duty after a near fatal job-related car accident, and had to utilize public health care facilities through her HMO. However the program offered to Postal Inspectors is paid for by USPS. The PPO is seeking a class complaint concerning this issue.
The USPS Inspection Service management stated, in the EEO Counselor’s Report,that an Inspector’s job requirements, and the effects that the job may have on an Inspector’s immediate family, are different than that of a Postal Police Officer. Some of an Inspector’s duties include investigating crimes, performing undercover assignments, and obeying orders when directed to move to another city or another state. Due to the added pressures that an Inspector can face, the Inspection Service offers a self-referral program. USPS in the EEO Counselor’s Report, acknowledged that Postal Police may also have a need for Counseling services, whether job related or not, and can meet with a professional counselor via the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This program provides free short-term assessment counseling to employees and their families. If additional professional services are needed, the EAP will recommend the best available outside treatment services available to the employee for their consideration, and at their own expense.
In its final decision, USPS maintained that the PPO did not show that she suffered any harm or loss with respect to a term, condition, or privilege of employment for which there is a remedy. USPS argued that the proper forum for the PPO to have raised issues concerning her Union referral benefits is through the Union itself, and that it was inappropriate to now attempt to use the EEO process to seek collateral enforcement of these matters.
USPS also maintained that because Postal Police Officers are Union affiliated, the PPO’s allegation was an “Unachieved Demand” and that she did not have standing to raise the matter in a class complaint.
On appeal, the PPO argued that majority of Postal Police Officers are Black and Hispanic–the majority of Postal Inspectors are white. Consequently, the PPO argued that contrary to USPS’s positions the self referral counseling program available to Postal Inspectors is not a Union referral benefit, and that the Union had no say in the inception of this program nor were they offered the opportunity to participate by the Postal Inspection Service. Th PPO said she spoke with several Union officials who did not know that the program existed.
USPS did not respond to the PPO’s appeal.
EEOC remands case for further processing
Although Complainant indicated that she was discriminated against based on race, national origin, sex (female), religion, color, disability, age, and reprisal, a fair reading of her complaint reveals that she is alleging that the Agency, based on race, is providing a benefit to Postal Inspectors, who are predominately white, that is denied Postal Police officers, who are predominately Black and Hispanic. We find that the Agency did not comply with the provisions set forth above. According to the Agency’s final decision, a determination was made that Complainant did not have standing to file a class complaint. Thus, Complainant’s class claim was never properly processed. If the Agency determined that Complainant did not have standing to file a class complaint then it should have made the Commission aware of its position when it forwarded the complaint to the appropriate Commission office for the assignment of an EEOC Administrative Judge. The Agency did not have the authority to simply not process Complainant’s class claim allegation.
Accordingly, we will REMAND Complainant’s class complaint to the Agency in accordance with the Order below. Furthermore, we are REVERSING the Agency’s final decision regarding her individual complaint and will also REMAND that matter for the Agency to hold in abeyance until a final determination is made on Complainant’s class complaint.
Adrienne P. Clayton v. Patrick R. Donahoe,Postmaster General,United States Postal Service