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The USPS is repeatedly firing probationary workers who report injuries, feds claim

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The U.S. Postal Service will have to compensate a probationary mail carrier in Oregon who was fired after reporting an on-the-job injury, a scenario that plays out all too frequently at the USPS, federal officials allege.

A federal judge has ordered the postal service to pay the worker $141,307 in lost wages and damages for emotional distress following a two-day trial, the Department of Labor announced on Wednesday. 

The USPS didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"The U.S. Postal Service has fired probationary employees repeatedly after they reported workplace injuries," Marc Pilotin, regional solicitor of labor in San Francisco, said in the release. "Employees and their families are harmed by these baseless terminations. In fact, the Oregon court found they caused 'significant mental, emotional and financial stress'." 

Judge Adrienne Nelson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon found the postal service discriminated against and wrongfully terminated the carrier 21 days after they told their supervisor they had injured a leg near the end of their shift while unloading mail from a USPS truck. The worker was fired 11 days before the probationary period ended, the DOL said.

Since 2020, the department has filed nine federal lawsuits related to probationary workers fired by the USPS after reporting injuries in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington state. The DOL has also found a repeated pattern of similar actions during that time, resolving five related investigations in California, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey, it said. 

Three similar cases are awaiting trial against the USPS in Washington state, the agency added.

The DOL alleges that the USPS did not follow its policies in several cases, neglecting to provide timely evaluations of the workers. In the Oregon decision, Nelson determined the USPS' failure to complete probationary reports offered "evidence of retaliatory intent," the department said.

In a pending case, a court ordered the postal service to pay the labor department $37,222 for destroying text messages and throwing the personnel records of a probationary mail carrier into the garbage. And last year, a federal court in Tacoma, Washington, found the USPS retaliated against a probationary worker who reported a workplace injury. 

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