These employees getting a decade or more of back pay for standing up for themselves must feel like the “Publishers Clearing House” van just backed into their driveway. The latest “winner” is Velva from the Postal Service. She filed a class action EEOC complaint on behalf of all injured-on-the-job employees who were working in limited-duty or rehabilitation assignments. She took offense when the agency initiated a sweeping medical inquiry to validate that they were still unable to return to full duty. One of the great benefits of being a fed is that the employee can almost always claim back pay starting six years before his/her complaint or grievance was originally filed no matter how long it takes to win the case. While it is certainly legitimate for agency’s to try to keep job injury costs down, …

there is a right way and a wrong way to do that.  The Postal Service (PS) chose a way that resulted in findings of illegal disparate treatment, illegal withdrawal of a reasonable accommodation, illegal medical inquiries, and a hostile work environment finding.  It is a great case to read if you are involved as an employee or agency representative in similar cost containment efforts. Be sure to read the very heavy procedural penalties EEOC imposed on PS for the next FIVE YEARS, namely,

The Agency shall make certain that, in whatever process it utilizes to find adequate work for injured-on-duty employees who need to be placed into limited-duty or rehabilitation assignments, such employees are notified at the beginning of and throughout that process that if they meet the statutory requirements of the Rehabilitation Act, they have the right to request a reasonable accommodation, and explain the procedures for doing so as they are set forth in EL-307. Employees shall also be notified that the process of finding adequate work necessarily entails that compensation specialists and other personnel may need access to their confidential medical information in order to assist them in finding adequate work, and that the confidentiality of such medical documentation will be maintained at all times. The Agency shall ensure that information pertaining to reasonable accommodations and confidentiality of medical documentation is included in any printed and electronic materials pertinent to the process of finding adequate work for injured-on-duty employees.

While the agency is doing all that, Velva will surely be figuring how to use 12 years of retroactive salary, interest and potentially up to #300,000.00 more in compensatory damages. For details, see Velva B. v. Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General, Request Nos. 0520180094 & 0520180095 Appeal Nos. 0720160006 & 0720160007 (2018).

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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