Mail carriers file class action against USPS over labor violations

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jun. 11, 2009, 5:00am

TEXARKANA, Texas – According to a class action filed by mail carriers, the U.S. Postal Service has routinely violated federal labor laws in an attempt to save money.

In a suit filed June 10 in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas, the employees allege the USPS violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by requiring work in excess of eight hours per day and forty hours per workweek without overtime compensation.

On behalf of others similarly situated, plaintiffs are Doyle Hickson, Rafael Campos, Michelle Ferguson, Burnis Hall, Carol Meadows, Jamie Mendex and Gerardo Trevino claim the postal service overburdened the carriers' routes and required them to finish the route even if it took more than eight hours.

The proposed class includes those employed by USPS as non-exempt postal carriers in the Southwest Area -- comprised of Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma -- at any time in the past three years.

According to the complaint, the employees "had overtime disallowed, had time improperly changed by a supervisor, been required to work through lunch to complete their route, and worked while off-the-clock and/or worked overtime and not been paid."

The plaintiffs allege that the USPS failed or even refused to pay overtime as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Further, the plaintiffs state that the defendant did not provide compensation for "off the clock" labor.

The employees state that USPS officers and executives were determined to overburdened routes but require the employees to deliver the mail in eight hours or less.

Prior to leaving the post office to begin the day's mail delivery, the carriers inform their supervisors if it will take more than eight hours to complete their routes based on mail volume for that particular day.

The mail carriers state that they have been routinely disallowed overtime even when it is clear that it will take more than an eight-hour shift to complete their tasks and deliver the mail.

"Because many plaintiffs and class members are denied overtime before they begin actual delivery of the mail, plaintiffs and class members regularly work through their lunches, or take abbreviated lunch breaks, in order to deliver mail as quickly as possible on overburdened routes," the lawsuit states.

However, on many days, even with working through their lunches, many routes take longer than eight hours and overtime is incurred.

Through USPS policy, supervisors routinely alter time records to deprive employees of earned overtime.

The plaintiffs allege that they work unpaid overtime to avoid harassment, potential discipline, emergency suspension, and proposed termination.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for unpaid wages owed, including interest, liquidated damages and penalties and attorneys' fees and costs. Each plaintiff and class member is seeking damages in excess of $10,000 during the relevant time.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief necessary to "enjoin and/or restrain retaliatory/discriminatory actions" by the USPS to any plaintiff or potential class member.

Waco attorneys Billy H. Davis, Jr. and Matthew J. Morrison of the law firm Harrison Davis Steakley PC and McGregor attorney Rebecca L. Fisher are representing the proposed class of plaintiffs.

Jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge David Folsom is assigned to the litigation.

Case No 5:2009cv00083

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