United States Postal Service Employees

Notice:  This article (as many we post) is not intended to cover every aspect of employee status affecting U.S. Postal workers.  It is intended to briefly cover the issue in a manner non-practitioners can understand.  Expert consultation is recommended in applying this information to unique circumstances and fact patterns.

Postal Service Employee Status (in brief)

United States States Postal Service employees have what is best described as unusual federal employee/employment status. Specifically and to the point, U.S. Postal Service employees are in the excepted, not competitive, service. Smith v. U.S. Postal Service (MSPB 1999). Because Postal Service employees are not in the competitive service, they do not automatically have a right of review with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) as do most other federal employees. Hubert v. U.S. Postal Service (Fed. Cir. 1988, nonprecedential).  Subsequently, such employees must use contractual or administrative grievance procedures or procedures available in EEO, USERRA, or VEOA complaints whereas competitive service employees are not so restricted.  In short, federal labor laws are not applicable to Postal Service employees absent a specific provision in the Postal Reorganization Act or other statute.

Despite the foregoing, a U.S. Postal Service employee can appeal an adverse action to the MSPB under 5 USC Chapter 75 only if he is a preference eligible, a management or supervisory employee, or an employee engaged in confidential personnel work if the employee completed one year of current continuous service in the same or similar positions. Paige v. U.S. Postal Service (MSPB 2007).

Summarizing, 

An individual employed by the Postal Service may appeal a removal to the Board (MSPB) only, if at the time of the action, he or she had completed one year of current continuous service in the same position or similar positions, and was either: a preference-eligible; or a manager, supervisor, or personnelist doing other than purely non-confidential clerical work. See 5 USC 7511 (a)(1)(B)(ii); 39 USC 1005 (a)(4)(A)(ii).
 

Conclusion

Despite the foregoing, U.S. Postal Service employees are still able to appeal personnel actions such as suspensions without pay and removals or even probationary terminations through an EEO appeal or other methods, which rely on the facts of the case.

Important Definitions
 
“Preference eligible” means a veteran, disabled veteran, sole survivor veteran, spouse, widow, widower, or parent who meets the definition of “preference eligible” at 5 USC 2108. 5 CFR 211.102 (d).
 
“Excepted service” means Civil service positions not in the competitive service or the Senior Executive Service by design.  In other words, the appointment to the position is specifically not in the competitive service.
 
“Competitive service” means a civil service position in the executive branch, except a position specifically excepted from the competitive service by statute.

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