EEOC Voids All Postal Service Denials of Individual Damage Claims in NRP Class Action
In an order dated 11/07/2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ordered the U. S. Postal Service to vacate (void) all its premature orders denying damage claims filed by thousands of Postal employees in the National Reassessment Process (NRP) class action. A copy of this order is posted.
Class counsel, and individual counsel such as our firm representing some of these Postal employees in their damage claims, had argued that the Postal Service's denials of the claims were premature. The Postal Service had been found guilty of failing to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled Postal employees and was required to notify all class members of that finding and of their right to file damage claims. Once the affected employees filed damage claims, however, the Postal Service then denied nearly all of them based on its assertion that the claims were not detailed enough. Yet the EEOC's procedures allow such claims to be adjudicated by an Administrative Judge, including the conduct of a hearing where necessary, so the individual can have a forum in which to present his or her damage claim in full.
The EEOC agreed with the complainants' position and ordered the Postal Service to start over again in the processing of these damage claims. Many of the claims may be substantial, in that the crux of the issue in the NRP class action was the Postal Service's failure to accommodate disabled employees, who then lost wages, were forced into retirement, etc. when no suitable Postal work was offered to them.
NOTE: Following complaints from FECA (Federal Employees' Compensation Act) claimants and their counsel, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) recently issued a report about whether the doctors chosen by OWCP (USDOL Office of Workers' Compensation Programs) to evaluate injured workers were qualified and impartial. The report, dated 12/21/2018, concluded that "OWCP's procedures for second opinion and referee medical examinations were designed to provide reasonable assurance that the agency used qualified and impartial second opinion and referee physicians." Of interest is that, earlier in 2018, OWCP lost a FOIA lawsuit filed by WILG member John Evangelisti which claimed that, at least in Colorado, OWCP's doctor selection procedures were both secret and highly suspect. The court ordered OWCP to divulge data about the procedures, and the data showed that OWCP uses the same doctors over and over again in the FECA program. The OIG report failed to make any mention of that lawsuit.