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Herbert Flavell
02:47 PM ET (US)
Well prepair for this one.
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The U.S. Postal Service will soon have to make a payout to as many as 130,000 current and former employees as part of a class-action lawsuit, with an anti-discrimination oversight body finding the mailing agency created a program to rid its rolls of employees injured on the job under the guise of trying to accommodate them.

The final ruling from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission came more than 10 years after a former employee first filed a class complaint alleging USPS subjected employees to a “pattern and practice” of discrimination under its National Reassessment Program. EEOC said the initiative, which the Postal Service had in place between 2006 and 2011, subjected a class of employees to disparate treatment, a removal of reasonable accommodations without proving an undue burden, improper disclosure of medical information and general violations of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. USPS, under the direction of the commission, is in the process of notifying employees affected by the program of their potential eligibility to seek individual relief.

The lawsuit commenced after an employee who suffered an on-the-job injury in 1997 was told in 2006 that under the National Reassessment Program her post-disability assignment had been deemed extraneous work and was escorted off the premises. USPS launched the program ostensibly as a “return-to-work” initiative that would also help eliminate “make-work” jobs that “did not contribute to or otherwise contribute to delivery of the mail,” but would not serve as a cost savings project. In reality, EEOC found, USPS used the program for the objective of shedding employees who required special accommodations.

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When launching the program, USPS directed injury compensation
specialists at 74 districts across the country to prepare account files for all employees classified as limited duty or in rehabilitation. The agency tasked district leaders with making every reasonable effort to identify positions for employees deemed to be in “make-work” jobs. If they could not find a modified position, they would notify employees there was “no work available,” place them on leave without pay and escort them out of the facility.

Over a six-year discovery process, EEOC found 15,000 employees were given new assignments and 10,000 were notified of “no work available.” More than 100,000 employees either recovered and returned to their pre-injury positions or left the agency while the program was in place.

USPS has fought back at every step of proceedings, saying the affected class did not have standing and its actions did not constitute any wrongdoing. EEOC affirmed an initial ruling by an administrative judge in finding the agency’s true intentions were to rid itself of employees on “injured on duty,” status rather than any legitimate operational objective.

“In targeting IOD employees, officials acting under the auspices of the NRP had subjected them to disparate treatment because of their
disabilities,” EEOC said in its ruling. It went on to say, “In implementing the NRP, [USPS] officials disregarded the agency's
obligations under the Rehabilitation Act, and had done so in a fashion that could only be described as cavalier.”

A wide array of internal documents and emails supported that claim, such as a 2010 “congratulatory” message from a district leader in Texas who praised his colleagues for reaching the goal of reducing injured employees “on rolls by 25 percent.” The email played a song titled “Cripple Creek” as background music. In another email, a human resources manager sent a message to leaders including the postmaster general that said the reassessment program would reduce the number of IOD employees by 14,000.

“Every one of these emails, and numerous others, lays bare the intensity with which the NRP teams at the agency's headquarters, areas, and districts pursued their goal of reducing the IOD rolls,” EEOC said. “Their statements clearly and unequivocally contradict the stated explanation for the existence of the NRP as a means to eliminate unnecessary work.”

IOD employees were also subjected to a toxic work environment as a result of the program, EEOC said. Employees made comments in response to its announcement such as “was past due,” “see you bums at Walmart,” and “get rid of them all.”

“Throughout the agency there was a pervasive fear among IOD employees that being subjected to the NRP would cause them to lose their jobs with the agency and have to work in less-desirable jobs for employers such as Walmart or McDonald's, a fear that was stoked not only by managers but by other employees,” EEOC said.

The Postal Service stripped employees of the reasonable accommodations they had been provided without engaging in an interactive process with employees or considering their individual needs, EEOC found. In one case, an employee suffered a knee injury that prevented extended standing and in 2002 received a job as a safety instructor. In a 2010 NRP meeting, he was informed his job was no longer available and was sent home. Another employee spent 20 years in a limited-duty work position that involved administrative tasks, special projects and mail delivery before being let go under the reassessment program. USPS failed to ever define what actually constituted “necessary work,” which ultimately hurt the agency.

“None of that work disappeared after the IOD employees who had been doing it had left the premises,” EEOC said. “Other employees had to step in and take over, which left many facilities short-staffed.”

The EEOC has already ruled the individual who brought the class action forward is entitled to attorney’s fees and other “individual relief.” Other members of the class must proactively file claims to prove they are members of the class and will then also be entitled to relief. The law firm Thomas & Solomon, which fought the case in front of EEOC, has launched a website to help impacted employees file claims, predicting USPS will fight back against every single individual. The American Postal Workers Union and National Association of Letter Carriers have estimated about 130,000 current and former employees may benefit from the EEOC decision. Thomas & Solomon has sent letters to members of the class in addition to USPS, which was required to notify those
individuals of their eligibility to sign their names onto the suit within 10 days of EEOC’s ruling.

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Postal Employee AdvocatePerson was signed in when posted
02:05 PM ET (US)
Another tragic story connected with the NRP. I was contacted by the daughter of a City Carrier who injured his back. Naturally, the P.O. controverted his claim, thereby denying him COP, wage-loss compensation or a Limited Duty assignment. He couldn’t work more than a few hours a day because of the pain, and quickly ran out of sick leave and annual leave. Eventually, his Postmaster brought him into the office and told him he had to return to duty full-time without restrictions or retire. He was forced to take an early retirement with such a substantial penalty that he could barely live off his monthly pension. It was more than he could bear, and he took his own life. Made ever so more tragic when the following day he received a letter from OWCP accepting his claim for injury and wage-loss.
12:07 AM ET (US)
Thanks for the reassurance Riv.
RivkahPerson was signed in when posted
09:20 AM ET (US)
It is worth it. Otherwise the post office wins and the harassment will continue. Winning something is better than nothing. You only have until April 12 to have your claim postmarked. The interest on back pay and emotional damages will increase your payout. If you choose not to use the lawyers, contact J.R. Pritchett Postal Employee Advocate.
08:04 PM ET (US)
@m/12066 Gee, you make me feel like throwing the paperwork in the trash!
I continued working and just filled out my time with LWOP when I was told that there was NWA so I was just hoping to collect for my LWOP. Now I'm thinking it might not be worth the effort.
RivkahPerson was signed in when posted
07:57 PM ET (US)
Just did some research. Legal fees for discrimination claims that result in taxable income will still be tax deductible as a below the line credit for 2018.
RivkahPerson was signed in when posted
04:49 PM ET (US)
Denial of ot is not part of McConnell. I believe that was Pittman which was settled. New EEO claims should be filed.
N.Y. Wiseguy
08:07 AM ET (US)
PEA...I have a union meeting Thursday and will distribute your info.Questions, if you been on light/limited duty and you were denied OT despite you doctor's ok...file under the McConnell decision? I know about the 45 day filing period but this is NEW information that mgmt was in violation all this time. We are just finding out (new info) we were discriminated against.
I'll see what happens Thursday
Postal Employee AdvocatePerson was signed in when posted
09:51 PM ET (US)
J.R. Pritchett,
Administrative Law Representative
86 E. Merrill Road
McCammon, Idaho 83250-1532
Phone: (208) 254-9196
Fax: (208) 254-9197
E-mail: postalemployeeadvocate@juno.com
N.Y. Wiseguy
01:53 PM ET (US)
I need your info, e.g., e-mail, phone, website (if any) street address. I lost your former info
Postal Employee AdvocatePerson was signed in when posted
09:52 AM ET (US)
Rick Owens from Postal Employee Network has blocked all of my attempts to post a response or comment, even though I did not violate his 'rules'. If there are any readers from PEN's NRP discussion forum that have questions for me, please post here on Lu's site.
Postal Employee AdvocatePerson was signed in when posted
05:49 AM ET (US)
For those affected by the NRP and considering hiring Thomas & Solomon and giving them one-third of everything – let’s do some math.

Let’s say that you earned $ 60,000 per year, when you were NRP’d and decided on disability retirement. DR is 40% of your base wage, or $ 24,000 per year. You’re out for say five years and you have five years of back pay coming to you, or $ 300,000. When you get the backpay, you have to give up $ 100,000 to the class attorneys. That leaves you with $ 200,000 to pay back OPM for your DR. You earned $ 120,000 from OPM during those five- years, which you pay back. That leaves you with $ 80,000 if you don’t count on Uncle Sugar getting his cut before the check is even in your hands. If we’re generous with those figures, you are likely to have at least 15% taken out in taxes first. From $ 300,000, that’s $ 45,000 taken off the top. That leaves you with about $ 35,000. That is barely more than six-months salary.

What if you were collecting wage-loss compensation at 75% of your base wage? At $ 60,000 per year for five years, 75% is $ 225,000. Then you’re paid $ 300,000 in back pay, and you give $ 100,000 to the attorneys. That leaves you with $ 200,000 to pay back the $ 225,000 you owe OWCP.

People are so euphoric about winning their case after all these many years that it prevents them from thinking clearly. It’s been such a long fight that everyone is exhausted and just wants it all over with. That’s all very understandable, however it’s preventing people from thinking clearly and thoughtfully about what they are giving up if they’re willing to give up 1/3 to the class attorneys.
Postal Employee AdvocatePerson was signed in when posted
03:16 PM ET (US)

I wish you would have called me. I only charge to put together the brief and 1/3 of emotional damages only. I don't touch anyone's backpay or other losses. They've suffered enough.
N.Y. Wiseguy
11:39 AM ET (US)
I received my letters, one from USPS and one from the attorneys. I signed with the attorneys. Let them continue fighting management. I have a carrier with a physical disability. HER doctor says she can work with SOME limitations. The PM won't even allow her in the building. sniff...sniff I smell a lawsuit. The taget dates on this class action are 5-5-06 to 7/1/11.
Postal Employee AdvocatePerson was signed in when posted
10:47 AM ET (US)
There doesn't seem to be any activity on this forum related to the McConnell class action. The Postal Service has started to send out notices to all the class litigants regarding filing individual claims. There has been much discussion on PEN's website, on the NRP discussion forum. I have attempted to post information relative to the claim process, and respond to questions, but have been deleted by Rick Owens. The posts were within the published rules, but one of the rules that's not published is, if Rick doesn't like you, he will delete your posts. The rules don't permit contact information for any business that's not a non-profit organization. However, contact information for the class attorneys - Thomas & Solomon, have been allowed several times. I can only surmize that PEN was afforded some kind of remuneration for permitting "advertising".
After reading the contract from the class attorneys, I'm aghast that they want 30% of everything that's awarded to the employee. In such a scenario, especially with those that went on disability retirement, you may end up owing instead of gaining.
If there are any questions regarding the NRP claim process I'd be happy to provide a response. I've never had to worry about Lu deleting any of my posts. Thank you for that.
08:30 PM ET (US)
If I was the moderator I'd kick all your ass out.
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