A federal court ruled that the USPS unfairly terminated a probationary mail carrier in Oregon after she reported a workplace injury.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently won a federal court judgment against the U.S. Postal Service in Portland, OR. The judgment orders the USPS to pay $141,307 in lost wages and damages to a probationary mail carrier who was wrongfully terminated after reporting an on-the-job injury and filing an accident report. The two-day bench trial, presided over by Judge Adrienne Nelson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, found that the USPS discriminated against and unlawfully fired the employee just 21 days after the injury was reported. This decision follows an investigation by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and litigation by the Office of the Solicitor after an administrative settlement could not be reached.

This is not an isolated incident, as the department has identified a pattern of similar actions by the USPS. Since 2020, the department has filed nine federal lawsuits to protect probationary employees who were fired after reporting injuries in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. In many of these cases, the USPS failed to follow its own policies and procedures related to probation, including timely evaluation and completion of probationary reports. The judge in the Oregon case noted that this failure provided evidence of retaliatory intent.

According to Regional Solicitor of Labor Marc Pilotin in San Francisco, the USPS has repeatedly fired probationary employees after they reported workplace injuries, causing significant harm to the employees and their families. The Oregon court found that these terminations caused “significant mental, emotional, and financial stress.”

In addition to these lawsuits, OSHA has resolved five related investigations in California, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey, and currently has three similar cases awaiting trial against the USPS in Washington state. Federal law prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees who report injuries or workplace hazards.

This recent decision in Oregon is one of several court orders in favor of the department. In a case decided last year in Washington, a federal court found that the USPS retaliated against a probationary employee who reported a workplace injury. In another ongoing case, the court has ordered the USPS to pay the department $37,222 in attorney’s fees for failing to preserve critical evidence and destroying text messages and personnel records of a probationary mail carrier who was fired one day after reporting a workplace injury.

The department will continue to protect employees from retaliation for reporting injuries and hazards in the workplace. This case serves as a reminder to employers to follow proper procedures and treat all employees fairly, regardless of their probationary status.  

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