A month after Richmond Main Post Office employees alleged they had been forced to work off the clock in violation of federal labor law, another batch of Richmond-area mail carriers has filed a similar lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
Forty-seven current or former Richmond mail carriers filed a collective action complaint Monday against the U.S. Postal Service alleging it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. The allegation stems from claims that the Postal Service refused to pay its employees for overtime work and failed to maintain time records.
Like the complaint filed in January for workers tied to the Richmond Main Post Office, the complaint by the other Richmond-area mail carriers calls for compensation for unpaid overtime work and a trial by jury.
“At least in part due to budget reductions, management and supervisors are under pressure to keep labor costs down by not paying overtime premiums,” both complaints read. “On information and belief, supervisors are instructed and/or encouraged by management not to exceed certain labor cost thresholds and incentivized with bonuses for keeping overtime premium payments low.”
According to both suits, the Postal Service has cut its staffing and labor costs by $10 billion over the past decade, making it difficult for carriers to finish their routes during their scheduled shifts.
Both complaints allege that the Postal Service automatically deducts half-hour lunch breaks from mail carriers’ hours even if the lunch breaks are not taken.
According to the January complaint, an investigation by the Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General “led to the suspension and/or separation from employment of multiple supervisors, the customer service manager and the postmaster.”
Shekeera Greene, a 21-year-old letter carrier, has said she injured her neck while carrying mail and, as part of filing an injury claim, realized managers had clocked her out nearly two hours before she left work that night.
The investigation led to back payments being made to 99 current and former mail carriers in December, the January suit says, adding that the payments were not made in accordance with a Fair Labor Standards Act dispute, were not approved by a court or the Department of Labor, and do not provide adequate compensation for what the workers are owed or damages.
The plaintiffs in the February complaint are workers currently or formerly employed at Postal Service branches and stations in metro Richmond, excluding the main post office at 1801 Brook Road.
The metro Richmond locations mentioned in the most recent suit are the Ampthill Branch, Bon Air Branch, East End Station, Highland Springs Branch, Forest Hill Station, Lakeside Branch, Montrose Heights Station, Pocoshock Branch, Ridge Branch, Stewart Station, Regency Branch, Southside Station, West End Branch and Westhampton Station.
According to the suit, all of those locations are under the control and management of the Richmond postmaster and the main post office. Each location is said to have a supervisor who oversees the mail carriers and reports to the location’s manager, who in turn reports to the Richmond postmaster.
According to the complaint, a recent investigation by the inspector general’s office into the practices of substations under the main post office “confirmed that the practice of alterations/deletions made by supervisors to mail carriers’ time records was rampant.”
Postal Service spokeswoman Freda Sauter declined to comment, saying the “Postal Service does not comment on personnel matters or pending litigation.”
Paul Falabella, one of the lawyers representing the mail carriers in both suits, also declined to comment.