The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has refused to settle nearly 28,000 claims from injured workers 11 years after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled it illegally fired or discriminated against disabled employees, according to ProPublica.
The EEOC found in 2009 that the service fired or pressured 44,000 injured postal workers to quit. The commission also found that the Postal Service discriminated against thousands of others by changing their work duties and accommodations for disabilities, creating a hostile work environment.
USPS challenges could “drag out the process for years“
The USPS has 630,000 workers and is considered one of the most injury-prone agencies in the federal government, as most employees are mail handlers who perform strenuous labor in all types of weather. Critics say the agency has not done enough to assist injured workers or prevent injuries in the first place.
The USPS cites the financial impact of settling the remaining 28,000 cases and plans to contest each allegation, which could increase the process by several years. In many cases, the service says workers are not providing sufficient evidence that they are disabled or were harmed as a result of their jobs.
EEOC continues to work through claims
The EEOC, which enforces employment discrimination laws, typically holds 8,000 hearings each year, and the class action against the USPS is among the most extensive cases it has ever handled. While the USPS ended its program targeting disabled employees in 2011, many workers still deal with the consequences.
ProPublica talked to some former USPS employees who say they have suffered severe financial and emotional harm. It’s estimated the Postal Service’s total liability to injured workers exceeds $170 million. The EEOC says its legal review of the remaining cases won’t end anytime soon, and even once that’s done, the USPS can dispute those findings.