Postal Service disability discrimination settlement
Wired News has this AP story: “Judge Approves Postal Service Settlement.”
“A federal judge approved the settlement of a class-action lawsuit accusing the Postal Service of discriminating against injured employees — a deal that will cost the government millions of dollars . . . .
An estimated 25,000 postal employees who have been hurt on the job and reassigned since 1992 are eligible . . . . for up to $25,000 each if they can show they were discriminated against because of their rehabilitation status.”
“The lawsuit was filed in 1992 by Chandler Glover, now 65, who said he was denied advancement opportunities by postal officials in Denver after he was injured on the job in 1991.
I got to keep the same salary, but I was denied any promotions, any transfers or anything of that nature,” said Glover . . . .”
These details are pretty sparse. But enough to highlight a few points.
First, handling the leave and subsequent return to work of employees injured on the job requires careful attention. Potentially applicable laws include workers compensation, prohibitions against retaliation for exercise of workers compensation rights, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and federal and state disability discrimination laws.
Second, in navigating this legal minefield, good communications and documentation, involving both the employee and medical professionals, is essential.
Third, decisions should be based on solid evidence, not on stereotypes or assumptions as to what the employee can or cannot do physically. It is entirely possible that many or most of the Postal Service employees in the class benefiting from this decision were reassigned for valid reasons, whether related to their injury or not. But although technically the burden of proof is on a discrimination plaintiff, as a practical matter, the Service would have to prove this.