EEOC Rules USPS Must Process Class Action Complaint For Rehab Postal Employees

April 7, 2008 by · 22 Comments
Filed under: eeo, Injured On Duty, legal cases, postal employees, usps 

Edmond Walker, a Temporary Rural Carrier Relief, filed a class complaint alleging that discriminatory acts had been continuing for a class of disabled permanent rehabilitation employees in the Postal Service. The EEOC Administrative Judge certified the class. On appeal, the Postal Service argued that the certified class was poorly defined and the class members were unidentifiable. The EEOC found that the class was sufficiently defined to enable the parties to identify potential class members. The EEOC also determined that the class met all the requirements for certification, and therefore, ordered the Postal Service on March 18, 2008 to process the class complaint within 30 days. Walker v. Potter

Background

The lawyers in Glover/Albrecht EEO Class Action complaint sought to include Walker case:

“On March 9, 2002, class counsel filed a motion requesting that the Commission add Edmond Walker as a co-class agent in this case. Mr. Walker’s issues included restricting permanent rehabilitation employees’ work hours; including overtime. In considering this issue, the Administrative Judge noted to the parties that if Mr. Walker and his issues were added to the lawsuit the entire class would have to be renoticed. In light of the possible delay and the additional complexity of adding this issue, class counsel withdrew his request to add Mr. Walker as a co-class agent who raised the overtime issue. Class counsel did not abandon this issue. Instead, Mr. Walker filed a separate class complaint which includes the overtime issue.”

Edmond C. Walker, the class agent in the Walker class action, filed a complaint on August 19, 2002. Walker alleged that, since April 2000, the Postal Service discriminated against individuals with disabilities by:

1.  Placing disabled individuals in permanent rehabilitation positions without engaging in the interactive process as required by law;

2. Restricting disabled individuals who are placed in permanent rehabilitation [sic] to limited work hours without any medical justification and without consulting the individual with a disability;

3. Fail[ing] to allow individuals with a disability, who have been placed in permanent rehabilitation positions, to work the number of hours determined appropriate by the individual and his/her physician and which are available; and

4. Fail[ing] to allow individuals with a disability, who have been placed in permanent rehabilitation positions, to use assistive devices in the workplace to accommodate their disabilities, including but not limited to, electric scooters, notwithstanding that said assistive devices pose no threat to safety or inconvenient [sic] in the workplace.

This claim has been analyzed to include denial of overtime.

On December 12, 2003, an EEOC Administrative Judge  issued a decision concerning the Walker class complaint.  The Administrative Judge  ordered the Postal Service to “identify all those pending complaints that raise the same issue as the Walker class complaint during the time frame encompassed by the Walker class complaint, January 1, 2000, to the present.”  For those complaints that had already been forwarded to an Administrative Judge– AJ ruled that they be placed into abeyance by the Administrative Judge assigned to the case.

The Administrative Judge issued a decision on May 12, 2005, granting certification after finding that the requirements of commonality, typicality, numerosity, and adequacy of representation were satisfied. Additionally, the AJ found there was no basis for dismissal of the class complaint under 29 C.F.R. § 1614.107. Accordingly, the AJ certified the following class: “all permanent rehabilitation employees whose duty hours have been restricted, from January 1, 2000, to the present, allegedly in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.” The AJ stated that “[f]or purposes of this litigation a permanent rehabilitation employee includes any rehabilitation program employee whose USPS employee records reflect an employee status code of LDC 69 and/or an employee status code of RC and/or RD.”

On September 30, 2005, the agency issued its Notice of Final Action declining to implement the AJ’s decision. On appeal, the agency argues that the certified class is poorly defined and the class members are unidentifiable. The agency notes that the AJ provided no definition for the phrase “duty hour restriction” which it argues makes the class legally untenable. The agency claims that although the AJ identified two specific types of restrictions in his definition – restrictions limiting the number of hours generally worked and duty hour restrictions that allegedly result in the denial of overtime – the types of restrictions are open to all sorts of interpretations. Further, the agency claims it is impossible to identify who had duty hours restricted or who among permanent rehabilitation employees are disabled. The agency stated that although it can determine the number of permanent rehabilitation employees between January 1, 2000, and the present, there is no way to identify which of those employees had their duty hours restricted.

The Postal Service Argued that “the determination of whether a purported class member is disabled, regarded as disabled, or has a record of a disability cannot be made without resort to thousands of mini trials, making class treatment inappropriate. The agency notes that although a person in a permanent rehabilitation job by definition has an injury causing a permanent restriction, this does not mean that every injury necessarily constitutes an impairment under the Rehabilitation Act or that every permanent restriction constitutes a substantial limitation on a major life activity. The agency states that given the varying natures of permanent rehabilitation employees’ injuries, there is only one major life activity which they all have in common: working. However, the agency notes that the permanent rehabilitation employees are all working and argues that therefore, that they cannot be considered substantially limited in working.”

The Postal Service also argued that “complainant’s EEO Counselor contact is untimely since no acts of discrimination occurred within the 45 days prior to his May 29, 2002 EEO Counselor contact on the class issue. Rather, the agency argues that the alleged discriminatory action occurred in May 2000, when complainant first accepted a 14-hour a week permanent rehabilitation position. With regard to the AJ’s finding that complainant moved for class certification at a reasonable point in the process, the agency claims that complainant did not formally move for class certification until December 8, 2003, almost 3 1/2 years after Filing his individual complaint and did not file a class complaint until August 22, 2002, more than two years after filing his individual complaint.”

EEOC’s response in part: “We find that complainant has met the requirements of commonality and typicality. Complainant alleged that the agency has a nationwide practice of restricting the duty hours of permanent rehabilitation employees who are disabled. In support of his allegation, complainant submitted declarations from employees from geographically dispersed agency facilities who each asserted that they were permanent rehabilitation employees and had then-work hours restricted. Thus, we find that the evidence supplied is sufficient to support an inference that there is a class of persons who were harmed by the identified agency policy or practice of restricting work hours and that the class will share common questions of fact.”

“It is the decision of the Commission to certify the class comprised of individuals with disabilities in permanent rehabilitation positions who had their duty hours restricted beginning on March 24, 2000. The agency is ORDERED to process the remanded class complaint in accordance with 29 C.F.R. §1614.204(e) et seq. Within 15 calendar days of the date this decision becomes final, the agency shall notify all class members of the acceptance of the class complaint in accordance with § 1614.204(e). Within 30 calendar days of the date this decision becomes final, the agency shall provide the appropriate EEOC District Office with a copy of the notice sent to the class members, and shall request the appointment of an AJ, who shall undertake the continued processing of the complaint pursuant to § 1614.204(f) et seq. The agency shall provide a copy of the notice of certification and request for appointment of an EEOC Administrative Judge to the Compliance Officer, as referenced herein.”

Postal Employees Entitlement to Servicemember FMLA

February 6, 2008 by · Comments Off
Filed under: FMLA, postal employees 

From USPS:

There have been changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that every employee should know about. An update now entitles eligible employees to take leave for a covered family member’s service in the armed forces. This policy supplements current FMLA policy and provides notice of employee rights to such leave.

Servicemember FMLA provides eligible employees leave to care for a covered family member — spouse, parent, son, daughter or next of kin — who has incurred an injury or illness in the line of duty while on active duty in the armed forces. That’s provided that the injury or illness render the family member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank or rating.

Eligible employees also are entitled to leave because of a qualifying situation caused by a  family member’s active duty or call to active duty in the armed forces in support of a contingency operation plan.

Click here to read more.

Former Florida APWU Local President Sentenced to Prison in Theft Case

January 22, 2008 by · Comments Off
Filed under: legal cases, postal, postal employees 

Another Postal Employee Sentenced for Stealing Undeliverable Bulk Business Mail  

The following is a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida:

January 17, 2008

Pensacola, Florida – Gregory R. Miller, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, and James B. Davis, Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the United States Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General announced today Tony David Grimsley and Bobby Ray Pruett, both former employees of the United States Postal Service, were sentenced today by United States District Judge M. Casey Rodgers following their mail theft convictions. Grimsley was found guilty following a jury trial of theft of 214 “movie coupons” issued to mail customers by Movie Gallery, Inc. In a separate case, Pruett, the former local chapter president of American Postal Workers Union, entered a plea of guilty to mail theft charges in connection with his opening of first class mail parcels and theft of the contents. Evidence in both cases included covert surveillance video, oral and written confessions, and testimony from law enforcement and civilian witnesses.

Grimsley was sentenced to six (6) months of home detention, a $1,000 fine, $800 restitution to Movie Gallery, Inc., and two (2) years of supervised release. Pruett, who was on State of Florida probation for an unrelated crime at the time of the offenses, was sentenced to seven (7) months imprisonment, a $500 fine, two (2) years of supervised release, and a $200 special monetary assessment.

“U.S. Postal Service employees are given a special trust to properly handle mail that comes into their possession, “ said U.S. Attorney Miller. “When even one postal employee violates that trust, it is a cause for concern for all customers of the mail system.”

“Although the vast majority of the Postal Service’s 800,000 employees are honest and trusted public servants, there are a small number who betray that trust. In those instances, criminal prosecution is vigorously pursued,” said Special Agent in Charge Davis. “The Inspector General’s mission is to promote integrity and accountability in America’s postal system.”

Both cases resulted from the investigation of the United States Postal Inspection Service Special Agents David Williams and Guy Nelson. Grimsley was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas P. (Tom) Swaim, and Pruett was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Randall J. (Randy) Hensel.

Related: Former Florida APWU Local President Pleads Guilty to Theft of Mail (January 1, 2008)

On November 2, 2007, a former Sales and Service Associate (SSA), who was APWU president of  the Playground Area Local , pled guilty to 1 count of Theft of Mail by Postal Employee and 1 count of Delay of Destruction of Mail by a Postal Employee. The guilty plea stemmed from a OIG investigation into an allegation that postal management suspected the SSA of rifling mailpieces and parcels destined as Return-to-Sender or endorsed as undeliverable. PostalReporter.com: According to his indictment, he took two cigarette lighters, two Victoria’s Secret free panty cards, a Florida State University neoprene bottle cooler and an Apple iPod.  After waiving his Miranda rights, he signed a 9-page statement which contained incriminating evidence against him. Although he was issued a notice of removal, he is fighting it through the grievance procedure.

Nine Louisiana Postal Employees Accused of Conspiring To Steal Mail

December 15, 2007 by · Comments Off
Filed under: postal, postal employees 

Jim Letten, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana announced Friday the indictments of nine postal employees for conspiracy to steal from the United States Mail.

Among the indicted were:

52-year-old Timothy B. Dede
36-year-old Benson V. Dabney
53-year-old Clyde Lee Caston
33-year-old Louin Seabrook Jackson
44-year-old Kim Yvette Hester Martin
42-year-old Felicia Danielle Tanner
48-year-old Tyrone Lewis
43-year-old Tanya S. Payton-Lewis
47-year-old Anthony Martin

Dede and Dabney were also charged with a single count of theft by postal employees, Letten said.

The indictment alleges the nine postal workers conspired to buy, receive and/or unlawfully possess stolen mail.

If convicted, the defendants could each face a prison term of five years, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Dede and Dabney each face another five years in jail, along with a $250,000 fine, for the other charges.

source: WWL-TV

New USPS Voice of the Employee Survey?

November 27, 2007 by · Comments Off
Filed under: fedbizopp, postal employees, usps 

From the Postal Service notice posted on Federal Business Opportunities website:

The United States Postal Service (USPS) wishes to pre-qualify suppliers who can develop, implement, manage, and analyze information for a national Employee Engagement survey.  The purpose of this system is to provide an independent, periodic measure of the satisfaction levels of Postal Service employees.  Such a process should also help the USPS to identify which employee engagement drivers need attention to increase employee engagement.  The USPS is seeking suppliers who apply current industry best practices and demonstrate innovative approaches to providing actionable insights into employees’ perceptions.  Suppliers pre-qualified as part of this process may be invited to participate in response to a solicitation(s) issued by the USPS.  It is the intent of the USPS to issue a solicitation for the measurement of employee engagement and analysis using pre-qualified suppliers. 

PART I – GENERAL INFORMATION (continued)
 
B.  PROJECT DESCRIPTION
 
The purpose of the Employee Engagement survey is to measure employees’ attitudes about the workplace and their perception of drivers of their overall work experience.  It will be a census survey of the entire employee population to gain insight into the issues and concerns of the workforce.  The current survey (Voice of the Employee) measures perceptions of workplace environment, consists of 41core questions and is administered on a quarterly basis to one fourth of the approximately 800,000 employee population.  Every employee has an opportunity to respond to the survey once every year. 
 
All 41 questions elicit employee opinion on a wide variety of workplace related issues.  Six of these questions have been identified as key indicators of workplace environmental factors that can have an impact on employee performance and affect business outcomes.  These questions are combined together, each receiving equal weight, and averaged into an index score.
 
The successful supplier must be able to:
 
A.  Select a stratified random sample of employees for each Performance Cluster (PC) and Headquarters/related unit, stratified by bargaining and non-bargaining employees within each PC and Headquarters/related unit.  The entire audience of the approximately 800,000 employee population will be sampled during each year.  The USPS will provide the name, mailing address, indication of bargaining/non-bargaining employee status, area, performance cluster, work location, and email addresses (as appropriate) for each career employee. 
B. Conduct the data collection process through both  mail-out and web-based processes. 
The current mail-out process includes:  producing sufficient quantities for all survey recipients; providing outgoing and return white envelopes and preparing the mail-out of the survey, including collating and stuffing surveys, cover letters, instructions and return envelopes.   Employee address information needs to be printed so that the recipient can peel or tear off this information to preserve anonymity.  Only work location code, bargaining/non-bargaining indication and field/HQ designation will remain on the survey itself.  NOTE – current process specifics are being provided to provide overall scope.  Proposals should include current industry best-practice processes.
 
The web-based process (not yet designed) will require specific attention to security and preservation of anonymity.  NOTE – as indicated above, proposals should include current industry best-practices processes. 
C.  Distribute (mail and/or email) surveys within a specified (narrow) time period. Special packaging and sorting will be necessary for different locations, based on the size of the office.
D.  Receive all returned hardcopy surveys via first class mail at the contractor site. Scan or image all returned answer sheets. 
 
Receive and maintain all web-based survey data.
 
Produce and deliver tracking reports, including data verification, so that the incoming information can be continually monitored.
 
E. Results will be calculated and made available at the various levels (for example national, area, performance cluster, Processing & Distribution Centers, and Bulk Mail Centers).  Results calculated will need to be given to the USPS electronically in various types of spreadsheets and databases.  Analyses and results must be able to be broken down in various ways.
F. The supplier must produce hard copy data reports of results at the various levels.
G. The USPS is seeking demonstrated experience in analysis, including sophisticated interpretation and presentation of findings. 
H.  The USPS is seeking industry best-practice follow-up (action planning and measurement) tools and processes.
 
See Full Notice

Postal Clerk Says Employees Personal Information Thrown In Dumpster

November 9, 2007 by · Comments Off
Filed under: postal, postal employees 

Donald Henry, a Virginia postal clerk, says he’s coming forward-at the risk of losing his job-because he believes sensitive employee information was compromised and the post office has covered it up. Henry says it was no accident that tens of thousands of pages of sensitive employee information was tossed into a public dumpster behind the courthouse post office in Arlington. He insists he alerted his bosses when he noticed roughly 20 cases headed for the trash.  Sources say a supervisor ordered the documents thrown out. Among them: highly personal medical information, accident reports, performance reviews and countless grievances–including secual harassment claims lodged by postal employees against the Postal Service. The Office of Inspector General said Postal Employees were not informed because this was “an isolated incident” and that “all the documents were retrieved safely secured and disposed of properly.”

see video from WJLA-TV

Postal Employees Wear Colorful Uniforms on Supervisor’s Last Day

November 4, 2007 by · Comments Off
Filed under: photos, postal employees, postal supervisors 

For decades, Customer Service Supervisor “Donna Lewis has stood out in a sea of blue uniformity — she adorned herself almost daily with bright colors such as lime green and sunshine yellow, complete with a sparkly pin or an appliqué sweater.  So what did she wear on her last day on Friday at Midland, Michigan Post Office – A navy blue shirt and pants. Lewis is retiring after 29 years with USPS.

“She’s been hassled about how she dresses for as long as I’ve known her and she doesn’t care, she’s just Donna,” said Dan Gotham, who’s worked with Donna Lewis for the past 11 years. Gotham wore a pair of floral pattern women’s pants rolled to a capri style in honor of Donna’s last day at the post office Friday.

 

  

Donna Lewis poses with fellow post office employees who dressed in vibrant colors for her last day.

Full story

Stolen USPS Laptop Held Postal Employees Information

October 29, 2007 by · Comments Off
Filed under: postal, postal employees, usps 

(Hawaii) About 3,000 Oahu postal employees received letters in the mail this weekend warning them that their personal information may be compromised.

The employees’ names, Social Security numbers and other information were on a laptop computer that was stolen in August.

So far, there is no indication the thief was able to access the employees’ information, U.S. Postal Service spokesman Duke Gonzales said.
 
An employee called KITV concerned about why it took so long for the postal service to issue an alert.

More info from KiTV The Hawaii Channel

USPS Threatening To Discipline Postal Employees Over Failure to Pay Local Tax ??

October 14, 2007 by · Comments Off
Filed under: letters to editor, postal employees, usps 

From PostalReporter.com reader: 

Local taxes: The USPS is threatening to discipline employees that don’t follow local tax codes.  States affected include Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

If you are subject to any of these local taxes, you must be proactive and complete and submit the proper taxation paperwork.  Frequent contact between the Postal Service, Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service, and these taxing authorities indi­cates that many employees are not having the appropriate amounts withheld from their pay.  You are reminded that, as a Postal Service employee, you are personally responsible for ensuring that the correct local taxes are deducted from your pay.All Postal Service employees are reminded that they are bound by the materials contained within the Code of Ethics, Principles of Ethical Conduct for Government Officers and Employees.  This includes Principle 12, which states: “An employee shall satisfy in good faith their obliga­tions as citizens, including all just financial obligations, especially those — such as federal, state, or local taxes — that are imposed by law.”source:Postal Bulletin 10/11/07 Issue

Archive: Deadline Up for Postal Workers to Pay Off City Payroll Tax -[note: link is not active] (Paducah, Kentucky) 200 Postal Workers face prosecution over non-payment- Tuesday was the last day that Paducah postal workers could pay off payroll taxes they owed dating back to 2000 . Because Paducah has less than 500 Federal employees– Federal agencies are exempted by law from withholding Paducah payroll taxes. According to one clerk,” the local newspaper and TV reports made us all look like a bunch of “crooks & cheat’s”! They are expecting us (Postal employee’s) pay upon short notice.” The local APWU has hired an attorney and may work out some agreement with the city. (6/4/05)|

Stolen Laptop Contained Postal Workers’ Personal Info

September 10, 2007 by · Comments Off
Filed under: postal employees 

Possible ID Theft Worries Postal Workers

Hundreds of postal workers around Nashville are finding out their personal information was stolen three months ago. U.S. Postal Service inspectors are looking into how the computer was stolen as postal workers are asking why it took so long for them to find out.“One of my questions (is) why did it take so long for someone to contact us?” said Levan Butler of the Postal Workers Union. Butler is vice president of the union and just got a letter informing him that a post office laptop containing his name and Social Security number was stolen in May. WSMV-TV

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