The United States Postal Service (USPS) is often a great place to work. Because the post office plays an important role in our country’s daily operations, a position with the USPS often offers high job security. It also offers some flexibility. Those who enjoy working outdoors can pursue a career as a mail carrier, while those who prefer a more stable environment can work within the post office. Not only are there a variety of positions, but workers often have an opportunity for professional advancement.
But what happens when you do everything right and it appears that opportunity for advancement goes to a less qualified candidate? What if the other applicant is not more qualified, and it appears the decision was based on skin color?
Is racial discrimination an issue in the USPS?
Unfortunately, these questions are still relevant. One such case is currently making its way through the court system. In this case, a worker claims that in 2015 she applied for a supervisor position. She argues that the USPS chose another applicant even though she was more qualified. She argues the choice was based on race, that the USPS hired another applicant because she is white while the more qualified plaintiff is black.
This statement is more than just an opinion. She can back it up. Her credentials for the position include over 25 years of service with the USPS, part of which included supervisor duties at the local post office’s retail unit. She also presented evidence of her success in these positions as the USPS recognized the plaintiff for several awards. Additional evidence includes three post-secondary degrees including an MBA.
There were more than a dozen candidates for the position, five of which were referred to the postmaster general for consideration. After reviewing the candidates, the postmaster general offered the position to a white candidate who had eight years of experience with the USPS and a high school diploma.
Important lesson: If at first you don’t succeed
It is important to point out that the trial court originally dismissed the lawsuit. The lower court stated that the USPS decision was not motivated by race. Instead, the decision to hire the white applicant was based on the fact she interviewed well while the plaintiff had come off as “too nice” to handle difficult employees.
The plaintiff did not accept the lower court’s finding. She appealed their decision. The federal appeals court stated the plaintiff provided ample evidence to establish she was more qualified for the position. Had the worker not appealed the lower court’s decision, her case would not have its day in court.
Postal Service workers may need to fight for their rights as federal employees
Federal laws are in place that provide USPS workers with protections against racial discrimination. It is important for those who believe they are a victim of race discrimination to use these laws to fight back. Legal counsel experienced in this niche area of employment law can review your situation and discuss your options.