June 13, 2014 – APWU members who are potential participants in the settlement of a class-action discrimination case against the Postal Service must make a decision by June 19, but they should exercise caution in doing so, warns Human Relations Director Sue Carney.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently approved a $17.25 million settlement of the case, Pittman v. Donahoe, which charged the USPS with violating the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Postal Service restricted the duty hours – including overtime – of employees with disabilities who occupied permanent rehabilitation assignments from March 24, 2000, through Dec. 31, 2012, in violation of the law, the complaint charged. Many APWU members are among the estimated 41,000 potential class members of current and former postal employees.
Class members should have received a Claim and Release form that must be returned by June 19 in order to claim a share of the settlement. In a Notice to Pittman Class Members [PDF], Human Relations Director Sue Carney advises employees about what they can expect if they choose – or refuse – to participate in the claims process and provides information to help APWU members make their own informed decisions based on their personal circumstances.
Carney cautions members to carefully consider the information contained in the Claim and Release form as well as the APWU Notice to Pittman Class Members before making a decision. “Although the total settlement may seem substantial, individuals’ shares may be meager when weighing the amount they may receive against their suffering. What might be adequate to some may be a gross injustice to others,” she said.
”The only certain winners are class counsel, who reportedly will receive more than $4 million for their efforts, and the USPS, which managed to dupe the EEOC into limiting the Postal Service’s liability for more than a decade of violations by attempting to negate our grievance-arbitration process and obstructing other sources of relief,” she added.
Industrial Relations Director Tony D. McKinnon Sr. plans to provide more detailed instructions to stewards, National Business Agents and advocates on how to proceed with grievances on issues related to the Pittman case.
It is important to note that cases related to the National Reassessment Process (NRP) are separate and distinct from those addressed in Pittman, Carney pointed out.
“The NRP discrimination case, McConnell v. Donahoe, is pending before the EEOC. There has not been a decision made nor a settlement reached,” she said. “Further, three NRP disputes are pending at the national level.
“Union representatives are advised to disregard any attempts by the Postal Service to dismiss cases on the basis of either EEOC class case,” Carney said.