EEOC: Decision is Final
National Reassessment Program Discriminated Against Injured Workers
(This article first appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Human Relations Director Sue Carney
In a huge win for injured postal workers who were subjected to the Postal Service’s National Reassessment Process (NRP), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final decision in the class action discrimination complaint, McConnell v. USPS.
The decision, issued on March 9, 2018, rejected the Postal Service’s request for reconsideration after finding the NRP discriminated against injured postal workers and violated their rights under the Rehabilitation Act.
The EEOC administrative judge ruled that under the NRP, managers violated the medical privacy of these employees and failed to provide reasonable accommodations – sending them home, reducing their work hours or changing their assignments. They engaged in disparate treatment against employees who were injured on duty. The USPS marked these workers and sought to compel them to retire. They harassed injured workers and created a hostile work environment.
This was the final administrative appeal available to the Postal Service in the case. Postal officials are required to comply with the orders listed in the decision. One order required the Postal Service to issue notice to all eligible class members informing them of their right to file a claim against the USPS. Members of the class were required to file a claim within 30 days of receiviing notice from the Postal Service in order to seek money, damages and other relief. Letters were reportedly mailed by the USPS on March 19 and 20.
More than 130,000 individuals, many belonging to the APWU, may benefit from this decision, including survivors of deceased class members. Injured workers suffered substantial loss and endured unnecessary hardship for years at the hands of postal management under the NRP.
A significant number lost pay and benefits, including health care and life insurance. Many suffered foreclosures, evictions, repossessions of property, damaged credit, and had to rely on family, friends, food pantries and other social services without an income to sustain them. They missed overtime opportunities, lost leave, and weren’t able to make contributions to their retirement or receive matching funds. They lost creditable service time and witnessed their high three-average diminish. They were targeted and labeled. Many suffered embarrassment and humiliation, anxiety, stress and depression as a result of the process. Their lives were needlessly and wrongfully turned upside down.
Injured workers have a lot riding on this case. There is no way to forecast how damages will be calculated, but this decision could cost the USPS dearly if individuals are justly compensated based on their actual losses and provided other equitable relief for their hardships. There is still likely a long road ahead before settlements are determined, including the probability of more litigation on many individual claims.
If and when monetary compensation is received for lost wages, members should be wary to ensure the restitution does not create an overpayment with the Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP), the Office of Personnel Management, or the Social Security Administration before spending the money.
In addition, the Postal Service may begin to make return-to-work job offers, which should be carefully considered by recipients, even if retired or separated, based on potential sanctions that can be imposed by the Department of Labor if OWCP determines a rejected offer is medically suitable.
This decision is a big step towards justice for our injured brothers and sisters, and co-workers who were subjected to the horrors of NRP.
For more information and continuing updates, visit www.nrpclassaction.com. Class members with questions can call 585-272-0540, toll free at 877-272-4066, or consult an attorney of your choosing. The website and call center are administered by the law firms that successfully litigated the McConnell case. The APWU makes no representation about the accuracy or quality of the information being provided by these firms.