Skip to Content

Federal judge finds Postal Service wrongfully fired Oregon probationary mail carrier, orders $141K in lost wages, damages

US Postal Service

Labor Dept. says 9 workers were fired after reporting injuries; USPS says judge found no 'systemic practice'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) – After a two-day bench trial, the U.S. Department of Labor said, a federal judge has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to pay $141,307 in lost wages and damages for emotional distress suffered to an Oregon probationary mail carrier who the agency fired after they reported an on-the-job injury to their supervisor and filed an accident report.

Judge Adrienne Nelson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon found USPS discriminated against and wrongfully terminated the employee 21 days after the worker reported that they suffered a leg injury near the end of their shift as they unloaded mail from a USPS truck. The agency fired the worker 11 days before the probationary period ended.

The judgment follows an investigation by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and litigation filed by the department’s Office of the Solicitor when an administrative settlement could not be reached.

In this case, the worker had been hired to work in the Postal Service's Dallas, Oregon office, but was reassigned to the Monmouth office, the Labor Department said. The employee mostly worked at the Corvallis office, with occasional work at other Oregon offices.

Since 2020, the department has filed nine federal lawsuits to protect USPS probationary employees similarly fired after reporting injuries in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. In several of these lawsuits, the department said it found USPS did not follow its own policies and procedures related to probation, including timely evaluation of the employee and completion of probationary reports, namely PS Form 1750. In the Oregon decision, the judge noted that USPS’ failure to do so provided “evidence of retaliatory intent.”

“Unconscionably, the U.S. Postal Service has fired probationary employees repeatedly after they reported workplace injuries,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Marc Pilotin in San Francisco. “Employees and their families are harmed by these baseless terminations. In fact, the Oregon court found they caused ‘significant mental, emotional and financial stress’.”

In addition to these lawsuits, the department has identified a repeated pattern of similar actions by USPS. Since 2020, OSHA has resolved five related investigations in California, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey, and currently has three similar cases awaiting trial against USPS in Washington state. Federal law forbids employers from taking adverse actions or punishing employees who report an injury or workplace hazard.

The department says the latest Oregon decision is one of several recent court orders in its favor. In a Washington case decided last year, a federal court in Tacoma issued a summary judgment, finding the USPS did retaliate against a probationary employee who reported a workplace injury.  

In a case currently pending, the court stated it would draw negative inferences against the USPS regarding why it terminated the employee and ordered it to pay the department $37,222 in attorney’s fees for its failure to preserve critical evidence by destroying text messages and throwing the personnel records of a probationary mail carrier — fired one day after they reported a workplace injury — into the garbage. The court’s final decisions about back wages, damages and other issues are pending trial.

“We will continue to combat retaliation and seek systemic change at USPS to ensure it protects those workers who deliver for our country,” Pilotin added.

Learn more about OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs.

Kim Frum, the Northwest regional spokeswoman for the USPS, provided this statement to NewsChannel 21 in response to the judge's ruling:

"Our clear policy is that we do not terminate probationary or remove career employees for reporting accidents or injuries.

"The safety or our employees and our customers is a top priority for the Postal Service. In that regard, employees that knowingly/and or repeatedly disregard safety rules designed to protect them and other employees from injury and prevent accidents may be subject to disciplinary action. depending on the specific circumstances.

"In her recent decision, Adrienne Nelson, District Judge, United States District Court for the District of Oregon, held quite clearly there is not a systemic practice within the Postal Service to act against employees reporting accidents. We continue to examine other aspects of the decision and have no further comment at this time," Frum concluded.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content