USPS, DOL settle cases over heat hazards and retaliation of postal worker who called 911

USPS, DOL settle cases over heat hazards and retaliation of postal worker who called 911June 28, 2015 – USPS was seeking to overturn OSHA citation, penalties in heat-related death of Missouri letter carrier and USPS settled case involving postal worker who called 911 and labeled a terrorist.

On September 10, 2014, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) Administrative Law Judge Peggy Ball upheld the willful citation issued to the U.S. Postal Service Truman Station in Independence, Mo., by OSHA following the July 24 2012 death of a letter carrier with 28-years of service. The letter carrier,  John Watzlawick, developed heat-related illness symptoms, collapsed while working his route and was taken to the hospital where he died as a result of his exposure to excessive heat. OSHA found USPS at fault for “willful violation of the general duty clause by failing to adequately protect its employees from the hazards associated with working in extreme heat” and assessed a penalty of $70,000.

On December 22, 2014, USPS filed a “Petition for Review” of a final order of OSHRC. USPS is requesting that the US Court of Appeals  review and set aside, in part, directing implementation of OSHRC’s final order dated October 24, 2014.  Although USPS stipulated that it recognizes the hazard heat poses to letter carriers–USPS disputes  OSHA’s “willful violation” assessment.

The National Association of Letter Carriers intervened in the case on January 15, 2015.

Last month the Postal Service and “unions representing its letter carrier employees” at the Independence, Missouri Post Office reached an agreement on a heat abatement plan.

The Postal Service  posted a notice of its compliance of the Commission’s order by the abatement deadline, May 15, 2015, and submitted its certification of abatement to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on May 22, 2015.

Although USPS filed for withdrawal of the “petition for review” they did not “waive any arguments that the Postal Service may have regarding the sufficiency of the abatement measures implemented by the Postal Service to fully comply with the Commission’s decision and order and to adequately abate the hazard.”

USPS seeks to overturn OSHA citation, penalties in heat-related death of Missouri letter carrier

OSHA cites USPS for worker’s heat-related death in Independence, Mo.

Video: OSHA citation upheld finding USPS at fault in Missouri mailman’s heat death in 2012

USPS settles case involving postal worker who called 911 and labeled a terrorist

In 2014 the U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service on behalf of a maintenance employee at the St. Louis Network Distribution Center in Hazelwood, Mo., who reported unsafe working conditions and suffered reprisals, including false charges of making a “terrorist” threat. “The Postal Service not only disciplined this 35 year employee for reporting unsafe working conditions, but also pursued a baseless criminal complaint against him resulting in his detention for 18 hours by law enforcement and the disparagement of his reputation,

 On Dec. 4, 2009, the maintenance worker attempted to contact a fire marshal about the alleged carbon monoxide leak and after failing to reach anyone called 911. When emergency responders arrived, Postal Service supervisors allegedly characterized the complainant as “disgruntled” and alleged that he was “attempting to sabotage the facility.” The next day, the maintenance worker, who had no history of disciplinary action, was suspended.

Earlier this year (2015) USPS and DOL settled the matter through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The case is pending until some elements of the settlement agreement that require action can be taken by the parties .

DOL sues USPS on whistleblower retaliation against postal worker

12 thoughts on “USPS, DOL settle cases over heat hazards and retaliation of postal worker who called 911

  1. Larry Bel Air must be a stupidvisor because he doesn’t know that the correct sentence should have been “I would have fired him for not following the proper protocol and chain of command.” Larry is a big part of what’s wrong with the Postal Service, really stupid supervisors.

  2. The Postal Service does NOTHING to protect its Letter Carriers from excessive heat. The temp inside the LLV”s is 20 degrees hotter than outside. All that is there is a small fan that blows hot air in your face. No ventilation as you get “written up ” if your door is open or window is cracked more than a few inches. Longer street time because of heat ? Forget it !!!

  3. Hazelwood BMC is where they send all the managers that mess up at the downtown PDC. Bunch of low lifes. I think they’re there because sexual harassment settlements. It’s kind of like being sent to the city jail. It’s better than the state pen. You get to stay in general population.

  4. Going to work at the USPS is like water torture, a constant drip of acid in your stomach. You walk in the door, get hit in the face with a shovel, then get told to “get to work”!!
    I’m writing a book about my time with the Postal Service. If you see it on the shelves you will know immediately what it’s about. I did twenty years as a Mail Handler. Sixteen of those years as a Union President. The name of my book is “Twenty Years in Reverse”!
    Congratulations to any retiree from the USPS, you made it through the gauntlet. Enjoy your retirement, may you have a long and peaceful life, you deserve it!

  5. maintenance worker………that means A=PEE=U. no mention of any union help or giving him legal help………worthless union. at our plant 117/119 they just put a loser in as vice-president who is known to rat out employees to mismanagement-go figure. while the fat president sits in his bunker until retirement. kind of like adolf in his bunker. Donald Trump 2016!!!!!!

  6. 35 years of service to this organization and no history of disciplinary action. They fed him to the wolves, Called law enforcement and said he was a terrorist= 18hrs in jail. Later the criminal claim was found to be baseless, but the damage was done and that’s what they really wanted. USPS is a “you can’t touch me ” organization. Fines are not a problem, they set aside much money for these kind of things.What happened to the supervisor who called the cops? Nothing but a promotion. Screw-up move-up that’s the USPS. REALIZE that you are working for criminals! They want to trim the full-time workforce and firing you is the easy way to do it.

    • Even if you have a decent supervisor or postmaster, if your District is run like ours, local management has zero decision making authority. They can be your buddy one day, but if District tells them to do something terrible to you, anywhere from unfounded discipline to removal, they will do as they’re told or get the boot themselves. There is no manager anywhere willing to take a bullet for a craft employee, and probably not for any other manager, either. In fact, they feed on each other like starving piranhas in a river full of swimmers who are bleeding. And I fear unions are not much help any more, either. Dues money and cushy jobs with the only attention going to mega branches while smaller cities get hung out to dry – that’s how unions operate.

  7. If I were the judge in both these cases, it would have been a split decision, but nobody asks me what I think, especially management, even though I’ve been carrying mail longer than half the office has been alive.
    In the heat related case, USPS has a strong argument. After all, we are supposed to work in almost all weather conditions, with obvious exceptions being hurricanes and evacuations, seeking shelter from a particularly bad storm temporarily (I had a funnel cloud wrapped in rain go over my head on a route years ago – sounded like a freight train about 500 feet up. You could see the clouds rotating, but luckily it didn’t drop), blizzards that completely shut down roads and highways, etc.
    But as anybody here in the middle part of the country and the south can tell you, the summer heat is relentless, it’s humid as hell, and some carriers prefer winter over scorching heat without a break. Since I’m getting old now, I don’t like the extremes in anything. This carrier was certainly unfortunate, and his death was tragic. However, sometimes heat related illness and the occasional fatal heat stroke happen despite one’s efforts to stay hydrated.
    It could be that this carrier didn’t have enough water or didn’t drink enough of it, didn’t take a break for lunch or otherwise took a break in an air conditioned building if there was one available, or was working too fast, something CCA’s and younger carriers need to pay attention to. But it’s just as possible he did nothing wrong, and just overheated.
    So I can’t argue that the management forced him out. It’s our job, after all, and if I get sick and overheated, I’ll call my supervisor and quit for the day. Chalk this one up to adverse conditions.
    The other one was management at its cruelest. We don’t know the settlement, and it may not be made public, but calling this fellow a terrorist after he tried to warn local management about the carbon monoxide fears and they turned a deaf ear was absolutely childish. I question calling 911 for the reason that this being a chronic problem and not an immediate emergency meant tying up 911 for a call that should have been made to OSHA first and then through non-emergency channels. Perhaps he was trying to get their attention, and OSHA had yet to respond, which would make his calling 911 a more understandable move.
    At any rate, the Postal Service reacted terribly, should be open for lawsuits from every employee at the Hazelwood facility, and all management involved removed. No doubt they probably intimidated other workers into not taking action. Seeing what they did to this poor fellow would remove any doubt they’d do that to others.
    They should have to pay fines and hefty remedies to all their employees affected. And again, every supervisor, manager on up to district or Area involved in this situation who supported the maltreatment of somebody who just wanted to save lives should be removed from the USPS period. No reassignments and promotions. And maybe criminal neglect charges, hmmm?

  8. the only people in the post office that take on terrorist mentality is the supervisors that make threats to workers on a daily basis, make your leave time or else, you better be back on time, you better be back on time, frack the supervisors, they are 90% of the problem and 0% of the solutions.

  9. The way the Postal Service treats it’s employees is awful. The Postal Service should be called The Postal Correctional Service.

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