The Richmond Main Post Office has forced employees to work off the clock, deleting or altering their hours to keep overtime low in violation of federal labor law, a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court on behalf of 17 local letter carriers alleges.
“At least in part due to budget reductions, management and supervisors are under pressure to keep labor costs down by not paying overtime premiums,” the complaint says. “On information and belief, supervisors are instructed and/or encouraged by management not to exceed certain labor cost thresholds and incentivized with bonuses for keeping overtime premium payments low.”
The suit says the U.S. Postal Service has slashed its staffing and labor costs by $10 billion over the past decade, making it difficult for carriers to finish their routes during their scheduled shifts.
Carriers have a half-hour deducted from their time in the postal service’s system for lunch, whether they take it or not, and supervisors have “deleted or altered” their clock-in and clock-out times in order to avoid payments required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The practice at the post office at 1801 Brook Road was discovered in October by mail carriers and led to an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General, an inquiry that “led to the suspension and/or separation from employment of multiple supervisors, the customer service manager and the postmaster,” the suit says. Read more
According to the lawsuit:
Plaintiffs are current and former employees of the United States Postal Service who work and/or worked at the Richmond Main Post Office located at 1801 Brook Road, Richmond, Virginia. The 17 city letter carriers and city carrier assistants are seeking to recover unpaid overtime compensation, and liquidated damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act for themselves and others similarly situated.
Over the past decade, USPS has cut its staffing and labor costs by $10 billion. At least in part due to the aforementioned significant staffing reductions, Plaintiffs, and all those similarly situated, are often unable to complete their routes and/or duties during their scheduled work hours. At least in part due to budget reductions, management and supervisors are under pressure to keep labor costs down by not paying overtime premiums. On information and belief, supervisors are instructed and/or encouraged by management not to exceed certain labor cost thresholds and incentivized with bonuses for keeping overtime premium payments low.
To minimize overtime payments Defendant has engaged in a systemic practice of not compensating Plaintiffs, and all those similarly situated, for all hours worked in violation of the FLSA.
The letter carriers, and all those similarly situated, are regularly required to work “off the clock” before and/or after they clock-in or out from the TACS system in order to complete their assigned duties in a given day. 29. Such “off the clock” work serves to keep the mail carrier under the forty (40) hours worked overtime threshold and/or reduces the number of overtime premium hours paid in
In approximately October 2016, the aforementioned practice of deleting/altering mail carriers’ time worked in TACS was discovered by certain Main Office mail carriers upon receiving and reviewing certain TACS records for multiple mail carriers. On information and belief, the discovery led to an “investigation” by the USPS Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) into the widespread practice of deleting/altering mail carriers’ time worked in TACS.
In November 2016, the OIG investigation led to the suspension and/or separation from employment of multiple supervisors, the Customer Service Manager, and the Postmaster
The OIG investigation led to back-pay payments being made by USPS to approximately ninety-nine (99) current and former Main Office mail carriers in December 2016.
Any such payments are not the result of a bona fide FLSA dispute, were not approved by a Court or the Department of Labor, do not compensate mail carriers for the full allowable time period(s), do not provide full back-pay and liquidated damages, and do not provide relief available to them under the FLSA.