FMLA Claim – Postal Worker’s 4th Pregnancy was too much for Norwalk Ohio Post Office

FMLA Claim - Postal Worker's 4th Pregnancy was too much for Norwalk Ohio Post Office A PostalReporter reader questions the decision in this case. The reader also raises an overlooked question about the appointment of rural letter carriers and city carrier assistants.

Do you believe the managers and supervisors in this FMLA interference case?  I don’t.  It doesn’t pass the smell test.  Why wasn’t this TE carrier immediately rehired when the TE complement dropped below the cap?  There is attrition every week due to conversions to career and resignations.

 Why didn’t her attorney cite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as well?  She was due to give birth in two months when terminated.  Pregnancy was the reason for her requesting FMLA leave.

  Does the Postal Service Have Too Many CCAs? 

The agency had 3,300 more CCAs in April than allowed in its labor contract with the National Association of Letter Carriers, a report USPS issued last week indicated.  Were any of these CCAs similarly terminated?  No.

 Rural Carrier Associates (RCAs) do not have five day breaks in their noncareer appointments.  Why do City Carrier Assistants (CCAS)?

Name withheld upon request

 METROKA-CANTELLI v. POSTMASTER GENERAL

Case No. 3:12 CV 242

 BOBBIE METROKA-CANTELLI, Plaintiff, v. POSTMASTER GENERAL, et al., Defendants

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division

September 17, 2015

Cantelli began her career with the USPS in September 2004 as a casual letter carrier. In 2005, she became a rural carrier associate, which led to a permanent career position. She stayed in this permanent position until March 2008, when she had her third child. In May 2008, Cantelli resumed working for the USPS as a TE. During the events giving rise to this lawsuit, Cantelli was employed as a transitional employee TE.

USPS employed Cantelli by reappointing her yearly from 2004 until 2010. In mid-2010, Cantelli was pregnant with her fourth child and began to line up FMLA leave for when the baby was due. She spoke to her supervisor, Margaret Gliatta, who told her to apply for FMLA leave in anticipation of the baby’s arrival and Cantelli contacted the human resources department to inquire about FMLA leave. On April 8, 2010, Cantelli spoke to USPS’s FMLA coordinator who sent Cantelli the FMLA form packet. USPS requires eligible employees to complete the certification forms within 30 days before the start of the individual’s leave. Because Cantelli’s due date was in July 2010, she was not required to return the packet — per USPS policy — until sometime in June 2010.

Before Cantelli was able or required to return her packet, however, she was informed she would not be re-appointed after her NTE (not to exceed) date. Specifically, Cantelli received a letter on May 5, 2010, indicating she would “be separated from the Postal Service on May 15, 2010[,]upon completion of [her] appointment.” . Testimony was conclusive that this type of TE separation was rare in the Ohio Northern District.

On May 5, 2010 (so not even a month later) Cantelli was notified by USPS that her annual contract — the same one that had been renewed annually since 2004 — was not going to be renewed. Cantelli was terminated before her baby was born and before she could take FMLA leave. USPS claimed that Cantelli’s termination was part of a reduction in force — keep in mind she was the only transitional employee affected by the so-called reduction in force.

Cantelli sued, claiming USPS retaliated against her for trying to take FMLA leave and interfered with her ability to take FMLA leave by terminating her before she could exercise her upcoming leave request.

Cantelli also argued she was not “next up” for renewal when USPS chose her for separation. The decision to separate Cantelli occurred on May 3, 2010. Another TE’s NTE date was May 5, 2010, and his reappointment date was May 11, 2010. USPS explained that the TE’s paperwork had already been processed and therefore, his name was not listed in webCOINS as the “next up” for separation.

USPS argued that because Cantelli’s employment ended every year, she was not eligible for FMLA leave prior to her May 15, 2010 termination because she had not shown her pregnancy required time off, and she was not eligible for FMLA leave after her termination because she was just a former employee whose contract was not renewed. The court agreed with USPS’s first contention in that Cantelli could not show she was entitled to leave prior to her May 15, 2010 termination because she had no evidence suggesting she had a serious health condition (whether it was the pregnancy or something else) that rendered her unable to perform her job at any point before her termination.

“the Court finds Plaintiff has not established pretext by a preponderance of the evidence. Therefore, USPS is entitled to judgment on Plaintiff’s FMLA interference claim. Because the Court has determined a lack of FMLA interference”

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “FMLA Claim – Postal Worker’s 4th Pregnancy was too much for Norwalk Ohio Post Office

  1. Certainly there are no surprises here – it’s management at their usual hateful worst. I want to examine for a minute the CCA situation and the fact that management has hired 3000 more of them than the contract allows. I know this is probably an article length comment, but I’ve not been successful in being allowed to contribute an official article.
    First, the 3000 CCA hiring is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. It probably breaks down into some areas with very high turnover in larger cities, and injuries play a big role in needing help, as does retiring. We as carriers would be equally livid if we didn’t have a sufficient staff.
    The conditions of the CCA’s employment and the resulting degrading of service was predicted by myself and thousands of other veteran carriers. We knew upon learning that CCA’s would be hired at about half a topped out carrier’s wages, and not being converted to career status until they became regulars themselves was a recipe for disaster. I’ve heard the NALC fought vigorously against this program and lost its argument at arbitration, which is probably true.
    However, CCA’s can be removed at the end of each one year assignment for any reason or no reason. Unlike PTF’s, who were faced with that situation only at the end of 90 days, CCA’s can never rest easily until a job becomes open for them.
    Management takes full advantage of this, and have done everything they could to keep CCA’s in a state of constant panic, forcing them to carry much more mail, telling them to ignore COA’s, and run like hell. They give them time allowances that CCA’s feel it’s necessary to work through lunch breaks and 10 minute breaks, many of them giving 30 minutes of free time to management every day. That is a violation of federal law, but the NALC can’t do anything about it because the law says management only has to “offer” 30 minutes lunch time after six continuous hours of work. That language makes it voluntary. CCA’s are simply too afraid to file grievances or raise any kind of stink.
    Thus, the routes in most cases are in a shambles when a regular follows behind one of them. We get aggravated because it makes a lot more work for us, pisses off the customers, like management cares, get blamed for misdelivered letters, flats and packages, and have to pull vacation mail out of boxes even when they’re marked as “on vacation hold”, as are the slips I put in while a customer is gone, both to remind myself and the other carriers who might carry my route or that swing.
    We know it isn’t the CCA’s fault. It’s the management trying to reduce the workforce into a much cheaper entity. This attitude means new hires know they can get as good a pay somewhere else without the harassment and maltreatment. Plus, not knowing when if ever they can get their own route doesn’t help.
    Another problem as evidenced by newer regulars behavior is that they, the new regulars still carry like they were CCA’s. We veteran carriers cannot convince them to start true route maintenance, and make their routes last eight hours. They still carry like they’re brand new, still case sometimes two routes and carry a route and a half, and are ensuring that when management comes to town, there will be the abolishment of several routes. They are their own worst enemies.
    I see no end to this situation. As the last of the old guard leaves in the next five to ten years, service will continue to erode. This is what happens when management gets its way.

    • So you are saying FT carriers intentionally “go slow, more dough” daily? Think that has not been known for decades?

  2. There are more people walking around, with no real or imagine job, in my district than you can shake a stick at. And that’s how we treat our employees, kick them out while pregnant.

    Nice job Megan!

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