A U.S. federal court found that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) retaliated against an employee for reporting an injury and applying for workers’ compensation benefits.
The employee was hired for the USPS Tacoma, Washington facility in 2019 and suffered an injury while they were on probation as a new employee.
OSHA investigated the retaliation complaint, finding that USPS:
- terminated the worker in retaliation for filing an injury report
- stopped conducting performance evaluations on the worker, and
- fired the worker before the end of their new hire probationary period.
These actions violated federal whistleblower laws that protect an employee’s right to report injuries without fear of employer retaliation.
USPS ordered to expunge worker’s personnel records
OSHA filed a lawsuit against USPS in March 2022 seeking lost wages, reinstatement and an expungement of the employee’s personnel records. The agency also sought a court order requiring USPS to train its supervisors on federal whistleblower protections and to post a notice regarding employee rights at its Tacoma facilities.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued summary judgment May 1, 2023, finding that USPS retaliated against the employee. The court ordered USPS to remove negative references regarding protected activity from the employee’s personnel record. The court also told USPS it could only provide neutral employment references for the employee.
Reinstatement, back wages and other monetary damages owed to the employee are scheduled to be decided by the court on June 26, 2023.
Permanent injunction issued against Tacoma facilities
A permanent injunction was also issued by the court ordering the Tacoma facilities to give probationary employees who report work-related injuries an equal opportunity to complete probation. That must include routine performance evaluations based on medical restrictions and feedback along with an extended probationary period, if needed.
USPS is also required to train all of its Tacoma officers, supervisors and employees on federal anti-retaliation regulations. The Tacoma facility must also notify all probationary employees of their rights to report work-related injuries and related medical restrictions without fear of retaliation.