Dear Sir or Madam:
My name is Naidra Barbieri, and I was proud to get a postal job in 2003. I come from a family with many postal employees, and we were all pleased when I was appointed as well. Little did I know, that during my employ, I have suffer workplace harassment, little to no help from my local union, and 3 on the job accidents that have left me incapacitated
Because I’ve had such little help from my local union, I am now in danger of losing my job. I am off work and have been for several weeks due to the last accident. This happened when: as I was doing my work assignment another employee shoved an all-purpose container into my shoulder and side, which caused more damage to an already damaged body- damage caused from being hit with a piece of equipment.
Yes folks, you heard right. This is not the first time I have been struck with equipment at work (once struck in my back, and once my side). They were two different employees, and occurred about 2 years apart….but the same type accident, causing so much damage to my body.
I am a 40 year old woman who has taken care to maintain my physical appearance from the time I was young. I worked out, I ate right, I did what mom told me to in order to take care of my health and my body.
Now I have to walk with the aid of knee immobilizers and crutches, and sometimes even a walker. I can’t even stand up straight…I’m walking like my Grandfather Bill walked when he was in his 70s. Can you imagine how that feels as a relatively young woman? I have two minor children that have been affected by these accidents and my workplace harassment as well. They are old enough to fend for themselves, but they also have the burden of caring for me because most of the time I just can’t do it. How do you balance a load of laundry while walking with crutches all bent over? I can’t even push my own shopping cart to buy groceries for my family.
Instead of treating this as a work related accident, my facility has charged my sick leave and my annual leave. The writing is very clearly written on the wall that the USPS is going to eventually terminate me.
I have no alternative than to make my voice heard through you. Will you please look at this information and help me, or forward this to someone (anyone!) that will help me. This is an urgent matter and must be addressed immediately. I must warn you that the information provided in this binder seems overwhelming. I have done my best to put it in order to avoid confusion. I have labeled all documents, and there is an index for ease of use.
This documentation will prove that I have been injured on the job 3 times, have been harassed, and have had my position abolished after reporting issues that I felt were unethical. My experiences have happened over a long period of time, so it has been complicated and time consuming for me to put everything down on paper in a concise manner….but this is the best that I can do. I pray that you will take everything into account and help me; at this point this is pretty much my last option, begging for help. This, coming from an employee of the Federal Government sounds pathetic. It is, however, pretty interesting.
This all started in July of 2003, when I was a transitional employee.
When I walked into the restroom/locker room, I witnessed my co-worker, Ladeah ** Harris, waving a gun and making threats about shooting specific people in specific body parts. I was very concerned by this, and I immediately exited the restroom and found my supervisor (204B), Larry Sims to report this incident. I believed Ladeah to be extremely dangerous. I took her threats and body language very seriously.
**I am not sure of the spelling of Ms. Harris’ first name. It’s pronounced La-dee-ya.
Larry said to me, “That’s just Ladeah. Don’t worry about it….she’s joking.”
The next day, Bob Jones (Supervisor) paged me to the office to fill out a statement pertaining to this issue, which I did.
Within that week the matter was investigated, and I was interviewed by three different officials in one-on-one meetings. I do not remember the names of these officials, but one of them was from Sedalia. He told me that he believed my story and that I did the right thing by reporting it.
Doug Roberts (Plant Manager) and Tanya Linder (Manager, Distribution Operations) seemed to be angry at me for causing this ruckus.
I was summoned to Tanya Linder’s office with Sue Gardner (APWU President) present. Tanya told me that they (she didn’t say who ‘they’ were) had come to the conclusion that I had accepted a bribe in the smoke shack from Sharon Lee (who I didn’t even know), to make up this story about Ladeah Harris.
The matter was swept under the rug. (It should be mentioned that at this time Sue Gardner and Ladeah Harris were buddies, and as a non-career employee I was not given the option of being a union member. Since I couldn’t pay union dues I was no benefit to Sue Gardner).
Following my report, which was during this year of my non career status, I received death threats, my tires were slashed at work, and other employees were actually spitting on me. I endured a year of harassment for trying to protect my coworkers from a violent employee. (Subsequently, Ladeah Harris was arrested in Jefferson City for a concealed firearm, and drug possession).
In 2004, I was able to transfer out of the office, to Wichita KS, for a career position. I worked there for nearly a year, but then needed to come back to Columbia in order to be closer to family during my divorce.
I got rehired in Columbia as a casual employee in the fall of 2005. By then, most of the employees that had participated in the harassment had either been fired, had transferred and one died. (Sue Gardner, APWU President was the only one of this group that remained).
As will be proven later in these documents, the APWU has given me very little help and support for many issues. I believe that it’s due to the Ladeah Harris incident. That’s why I included this in my information.
I became a career employee in 2007. My next problem came on January 22, 2010. I was working my bid job, which was the FSM 100 (flat sorter machine), when a mail handler who was in a hurry to get off work for a ‘hot date’, slammed a heavy piece of equipment into my back. I didn’t see him coming, and the equipment was an ergo cart (approximately 500 pounds, plus velocity of motion). When the cart slammed into me, it pinned me between the cart and a safety bar. This did extreme damage to my back, which already had been operated on to fuse three lumbar vertebrae. This also jarred my knees causing damage to them as well. This transpired at 23:00.
Exhibit 1, statement from mail handler, Matt McCune, regarding this accident.
(This was the second time Mr. McCune had hit someone with equipment, causing physical harm, yet he was not reprimanded. He is the President of the Mail Handler Union for this location. That information is included to support my contention that this is an unsafe work environment.)
After he struck me with the ergo cart, Matt McCune had to move it so that I could move. I was dazed and in excruciating pain. The 204B, Charlotte Folbre, came upon the scene and noticed that I was visibly shaken. I told her what had happened and instead of sending me for immediate medical treatment, she escorted me to the smoke shack to have a cigarette to calm my nerves.
During this time, Matt McCune reported the accident to Tour 1 SDO Dennis Pellham and also the MDO Ernie Reungert. After smoking, Charlotte took me to the office and Dennis asked how I was. I reported to him that I was in severe pain. He seemed to shrug it off and they (Donna Hufstedler and Dennis Pellham) decided to place me in the manual letter line to work. They wanted to wait and see if that would help my condition to improve.
I requested to seek medical treatment, and it was not until 4:10am that Donna Hufstedler called me to her office to fill out accident paperwork. While I was sitting there with Donna, Dennis and Charlotte, I was asked if I had any bruising. I told them that I could not see my back, and I didn’t know.
At that point, Dennis suggested to Donna that she take me to the ladies’ restroom, remove my clothing for their observation, and that he would be down shortly to ‘check it out’.
I refused to have my supervisors and/or manager view my person, and I left to seek proper medical attention.
Exhibit 2, the CA-1 for Claim for Compensation for Traumatic Injury.
Exhibit 3, CA-1 Witness Statement from Cindy Berry
Exhibits 4a, and 4b, both pages of PS Form 1769, Accident Report.
Exhibit 5, CA-16, Authorization for Examination and/or Treatment, 1/23/2010
Exhibit 6, Medical Statement from Bridget Early MD, 1/23/2010
Exhibit 7, X-Ray information from Boone Hospital, Andrew Getzoff MD, exam date 1/23/10
Exhibit 8, Official Attending Physician Report from Bridget Early MD 1/25/10
During my period of incapacity, my clerk job was excessed. Due to being the junior clerk I was given a choice of jobs in a different craft in my same facility. Out of six selections I chose a Custodial Laborer, job number 95693715. I had to factor in my limited physical capabilities when making this decision. This was the only choice of assignment that was within my restrictions.
Exhibit 9, Impacted Junior Clerk Job Selection Notice, 1/26/2010
Exhibit 10, Notice that I had been seen by Kate Branham FNP, date 1/28/10
Exhibit 11, Notice that I had been seen at my family doctor on 1/23, 1/24, and 1/25 and that I remained ‘totally disabled secondary to this injury, need assist to walk, toilet, or shower.’ Dated 1/29/2010
This case had not been accepted by Workers’ Comp yet, so I had to continue getting documentation from my family doctor, Bridget Early MD and/or Kate Branham FNP from the same office.
On 2/1/10, when I made a phone call to work to give them an updated status and to find out if this incident had been filed with Workers’ Comp, my manager, Donna Hufstedler said, “How long are you going to milk this?” The stress of not knowing the status of my health condition, or if my case was being handled properly was immeasurable. After making this snide comment to me, and instead of answering my questions herself, she handed the phone to Debbie Cozean, a 204B.
Exhibit 12, Print out of text message that I sent to my sister on 2/1/10 about the ‘milking’. She saved this message, and sent it to her own e-mail address (foofoo1971) in order to print it off for written evidence.
I even received a greeting card in the mail from coworkers that had a picture of a cow on the front, and the card read, “Got Milk”. It was sent out by Debbie Maiden, who is a friend of Donna Hufstedler. She had many signatures from my co-workers. This is another example of ongoing harassment.
Exhibit 13, Examination by Bridget Early MD 2/5/2010 which states that I was still unable to work at the time, with further recommendation pending orthopedic consultation.
Exhibit 14, Notice from Theresa Early (from family doctor office), to Debbie Cozean, 204B, stating medical information and also ‘Naidra would like to reiterate that her status should be COP, not annual leave, while she off with this injury.” Dated 2/8/2010
Ultimately, my injury paperwork was completed and I was compensated for time lost and my medical bills through Worker’s Compensation.
Exhibit 15a, b, c, and d: A 4-page Workers’ Compensation Acceptance Letter, dated 2/9/2010. (I have written many notes on this, I didn’t realize that I would need to make copies for other parties at that time. My apologies).
Exhibit 16, Letter from Workers’ Comp with Diagnosed Condition of Contusion to L4-L5 Lumbar Back and Strain to Back Lumbar L4-L5, dated 2/9/2010.
On 2/8/10, my FSM 100 job was excessed and I had to bid on another assignment.
When an employee has a work related injury, they are to be given enough medical care that the physical capabilities they had prior to the accident would again be achieved. In my case, I should have been treated until I was capable of meeting the requirements to be placed on the FSM 100 once again. Pamela Ruckman was my caseworker in this matter, and Exhibit 17 shows correspondence with her, and her contact information.
Ms. Ruckman requested from my District Office in St. Louis the CA-17 form listing specifically the physical requirements for running the FSM 100. Since that is the position I had when I was injured, that is the physical capabilities that I should have been allowed to achieve.
Exhibit 17, from Pamela Ruckman, RN, BA, CRRN, CCM (Case Manager, CMMCM).Central Missouri Medical Case Management, Inc. This is a letter that I have taken notes on, not thinking it would be needed in an official capacity.
The District Office informed Ms.Ruckman that ‘due to the internal excessing’ and ‘based on past practice’ I would not be returning to the clerk craft. So instead of sending Ms. Ruckman the CA-17 with requirements for the FSM 100, Mike Dolson (Manager of Maintenance and Custodians) filled out a CA-17 with specific requirements for the custodial job. If you were to compare the CA 17s for custodial against the CA-17 for FSM 100, they are vastly different. I was not allowed to reach the physical capabilities that I had before this on the job injury.
Exhibit 18, CA-17 listing Laborer, Custodial requirements
Exhibit 19, Functional Requirements to be FSM 100 clerk.
Exhibit 20, PS Form 50 Notification of Personnel Action, ‘EMPLOYEE PLACED IN POSITION #95693715 AS PER JB 1200 SUBMITTED ON 2/8/2010”.
Exhibit 21, Letter welcoming me to the maintenance department and outlining my schedule and information such as operation numbers, and that I was to report to maintenance supervisor Lee Hudson. Letter from Mike Dolson. Dated 2/9/2010
Exhibit 22, Current CA-17 for custodial, dated 2/18/2010
Exhibit 23, Offer of Modified Assignment, because I was in physical therapy, and not yet able to fulfill all the requirements of the custodial position. When an employee has an on-the-job injury, they have the right to reasonable accommodation. If you look at this modified assignment, dated 2/19/2010, you will see that under the physical requirements of this modified assignment, Mike Dolson has made corrections because initially it didn’t fit the parameters of my medical restrictions.
Exhibit 24, Current CA-17 for custodial, dated 3/1/2010
Exhibit 25, Offer of Modified Assignment, because my capabilities were continuing to improve through treatment, dated 3/5/2010
Exhibit 26, Current CA-17 for custodial, dated 3/10/2010
Exhibit 27, Current CA-17 for custodial, this marked the first date that I could do all the custodial physical requirements without restriction. Dr. Komes documented and stated that I had reached my ‘maximum medical improvement’ (MMI). This means that I was not going to physically improve beyond my current capability. Dated 03/24/2010
Exhibit 28, Final Report from MO Occupational Injury Center, this shows that I was at MMI, dated 3/24/2010
Exhibit 29, Documentation of Laborer Custodial Job, #95693715 that I was placed into, dated 4/23/2010
In June 2010, Lee Hudson, Supervisor Custodian and Maintenance, informed me that he had taken it upon himself to speak to Sue Gardner (APWU President), and Earl Randal (Plant Manager) to get a permanent limited duty position for me.
The reason for this was his concern for my physical well-being, based on my MMI and other health issues that resulted in constant debilitating pain. Previously, Lee and I had discussed concerns about my physical weaknesses, which seemed to be progressively worsening and caused me to explore filing for disability.
After I looked into filing for disability, I decided that financially it would be impossible for me to do so. There was no way I could live on disability payments with two minor daughters, even if I could survive the six months it would take for disability payments to begin.
Lee and I spoke about my options and my financial limitations, and I made it clear to him that disability was not an option at that time. I stated to Lee that I would keep working unless there was some type of ‘early out’ incentive, or until I was physically incapable of doing the job.
Exhibit 30a through 30e, Documentation from Bridget Early MD, which Lee Hudson suggested I obtain in order to pursue the permanent limited position. Documents are dated 6/8/2010
Earl Randal and Sue Gardner agreed to Lee’s suggestion of making the permanent limited duty position for me. On 6/10/10, while on annual leave, I came to a meeting with Lee Hudson, Earl Randal, and Sue Gardner to make the permanent limited duty job official.
During the meeting I requested that a provision be made in this limited duty job, that if my physical state improved and I was able to function as a clerk that I could do that. At that time, I was optimistic that it was a realistic goal. Earl Randal refused this request. He basically told me this agreement was all or nothing.
Exhibit 31, The Permanent Light Duty (which should have been titled Permanent Limited Duty, because it was a work related injury) Job, which was Job #95693715, agreed to by Plant Manager Earl Randal, dated 6/15/2010
Exhibit 32, Letter Abolishing Custodial Job #95693715, written by Michael Dolson (Manager of Maintenance and Custodial…Earl Randal had transferred to another facility after agreeing to my Limited Duty position). This letter states, ‘…Naidra will become an unassigned regular until she can bid a job…’dated 7/7/2010
Exhibit 33, Successful Bid Candidate letter. This letter was posted, announcing that I successfully bid and was awarded a maintenance craft position, Job #8780035, which I then started working, dated 9/4/2010
After this letter of my job award was posted, a new plant manager came to the facility, Sheila M. Smith.
Exhibit 34, Subject: Excessed Clerk Status for me. This document states that my award was made in error, and that as the senior clerk I should have been moved back to the clerk craft. It states further, that I would be placed back into the clerk craft and gives me choices of automation positions which were to take effect on 9/25/10, signed by Sheila Smith, Plant Manager, dated 9/15/10.
(Please see Exhibit 27, which states my MMI was in the custodial craft).
Exhibit 35, information regarding physical requirements to be an automation clerk.
Exhibit 36, CA-17 listing physical requirements to be an automation clerk.
After receiving the letter, I spoke with Sue Gardner, AWPU President.
I was extremely concerned about the abolishment of my custodial job, and being forced to bid on an automation job that I was physically incapable of performing. Sue stated that she needed me to go back to Dr. Komes to have him update a CA-17. I made an appointment with Dr. Komes for 9/23/10.
Exhibit 37a and b, clinical notes released to Sue Gardner (APWU President) and Dave Sprague (APWU Maintenance Officer) which states, “…she had a work injury and was released with restrictions due to her work-related injury…, this was a custodial type of job. It was not felt that she would improve much from this and was placed on permanent restrictions.
She is here today because apparently her job is being phased out… she has pain in the knees which will make her back work harder and vice versa…she has now increased her pain medications through her primary care doctor significantly and is on Oxycontin along with multiple other pain medications and muscle relaxers… it is not felt that the patient will be able to perform at a higher level than her previous restrictions in March. She is at maximal medical improvement. If a position cannot be made for her with those restrictions, she will need to seek employment in an area that will fit…” Signed Kevin D Komes MD, dated 9/23/10
Exhibit 38, CA-17 completed by Dr. Komes, dated 9/23/10
On 9/23/10 when I attempted to turn this paperwork in, I was told by management that this CA-17 was insufficient because the duty status report was based on the occupation of a laborer (custodial) and the doctor wrote the information on the left side of the form (which is to list the requirements of position) instead of the right side (which lists physical limitations from the doctor).
Management requested that I go back to Dr. Komes with a new CA-17, which listed the occupation as automation instead of laborer. These specific requirements for automation were listed on side A, by a supervisor.
Exhibit 39, the aforementioned CA-17 with specific requirements for automation, dated 9/24/11.
If you compare Exhibit 36 to Exhibit 39, you will see that although the requirements are both for automation, the weight amounts and activities required are vastly different. Exhibit 39 shows the requirements at about half of what Exhibit 36 show. For example, one requirement of lifting and carrying max weight is either 35 pounds or 70 pounds depending on which CA-17 you are viewing.
The CA-17 that they wanted Dr. Komes to complete showed the requirements being significantly less than the REAL requirements of the automation job.
Still looking at Exhibit 39, you will see that Dr. Komes did not complete the top right section, which includes the question: 13: Employee able to perform regular work described on side A?
Because Dr. Komes didn’t mark an answer, management sent me back to him yet again. At this appointment, Dr. Komes changed my push/pull weight from no limit to a 25 pound limit. He was extremely concerned that this CA-17 would put me in danger of having to endure more than my limitations and cause more injury. He was also frustrated that they were attempting to dictate the restrictions that he should decide for me.
Exhibit 40, CA-17 completed by Dr. Komes, dated 9/24/10. On this CA-17 he still did not answer question 13, because I was still unable to perform that work described on Side A. And he was still not going to put me in danger of getting injured by going outside my restrictions. He did change the driving a vehicle time which is activity m on the left side of this form, to 2 hours. He also added that there should be zero time spent operating machinery. He didn’t want me operating any machinery due to the high level of medications I was prescribed for pain management, and also my basic physical limitations. At this time, he also stated to me that the USPS was harassing him.
On 9/23/2010 Sue Gardner (APWU President) met with Sheila Smith (Plant Manager) to discuss my concerns of being changed to an automation clerk and the affect that would have on my physical well-being. During this meeting they determined that I was capable of being on the FSM 100. (refer to Exhibit 19, which shows physical requirements necessary to safely work in this position, and also Exhibit 40 which shows that I was to run machinery for ZERO hours).
During this meeting, Sue Gardner (APWU President) agreed that I was capable of running the FSM 100. (?? They are not physicians, that I’m aware of).
When I arrived at work on 9/24/10 Ernest Ruengert, MDO, told me to report to the FSM 100. Because I was injured on the job, I knew that I have the right to request and receive reasonable accommodation. This means they must state the modifications that will make the job fit into my medical restrictions, so that the work will be safely performed.
They had not addressed it, so I requesting the modifications be put in writing, before I began the work. At that time I showed Ernest my copies of the documentation that restricted me from working the machinery at all. I was not willing to put myself in further jeopardy. (Refer to Exhibit 19, functional requirements of FSM clerk, and also Exhibit 40, my most recent CA-17 in which I was instructed by my physician not to run machinery AT ALL, among other restrictions on that CA-17)
Exhibit 41, Offer of Modified Assignment, written by Ernest Reungert, MDO. This job offer is in no way indicative of my physical capabilities. Job offer dated 9/24/2010
Due to the fact that I was given a permanent limited duty job in the custodian department, based on my MMI and my work comp injury, when this was finalized, work comp closed this case. Because I was capable of doing the custodial work on the limited duty offer, see Exhibit 31.
Even though they have forced me to work in another craft, the USPS hasn’t informed Work Comp that I’m no longer a custodian.
When you call Work Comp, my file number is 112055823, They say that I’m released to full duty as of 3/24/2010 (Exhibit 27) because their information is still the custodial duties. Work Comp would tell you that I’ve been released to go back to work, full duty and no restrictions as of 3/24/2010. Unless you specifically inquire which craft I’m under, they don’t inform you. If you ask ‘what craft?’, they will say it’s a laborer, custodial job that I’ve been released to go back to full duty. So that Work Comp case is closed.
** THE USPS MUST INFORM WORKERS’ COMP THAT MY JOB IS DIFFERENT. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO MY CASE AND AFTER REPEATED ATTEMPTS TO GET THIS CORRECTED (including involving the APWU), IT STILL HAS NOT BEEN RECTIFIED.
On 9/25/2010 and 9/26/2010 I worked the FSM 100, as my management was requiring. I got through these days by taking as much pain medication as I could, masking my pain. I was mistreated by my co-workers, who thought that I wasn’t doing my share of the work. It was degrading and humiliating to take the abuse from the other employees.
I had to do this, because I have a responsibility to my family to bring home a paycheck. At approximately 4:30am on Sunday 9/26/2010 I had to clear a buffer jam on the machine.
In order to do this, I had to position myself over the ledge. After clearing the jam and maneuvering myself off the machine my right foot landed awkwardly causing my right knee to twist badly. I felt a rubber band like snap and sharp pain directly to the outside of my knee and shooting up my quadricep.
Exhibit 42, my statement regarding that accident, dated 09/27/2010
Exhibit 43, my handwritten statement which also shows the amount of stress I was under from not only the physical work, but harassment from co-workers, also dated 9/27/2010.
Exhibit 44 CA-1 Notice of Traumatic Injury Continuation of Pay, dated 9/27/2010
Exhibit 45a through 45c, Notice of Decision from Workers’ Compensation.
They denied my claim, based on ‘CA-20 dated 10/08/2010, Dr. Kevin Marberry gave a diagnosis “right knee pain” and Dr. Marberry did not indicated in Item #8 whether the symptom, knee pain, was caused or aggravated by your work activities.”
Please note in this Exhibit, in paragraph 5 (which I’ve highlighted for you), it states that I was on a permanent light duty assignment as a Custodian. The accident occurred while I was clearing a jam on a machine, so OBVIOUSLY I was not doing custodial work.
I was working the FSM 100. This is another example of the USPS falsifying my records to workers’ comp. If they would change my status to automation, this claim would be approved. As it is stands, they have sent me a bill for over $4000.00 for payments during my time off work due to this injury. Denial notice dated 12/2/2010
Exhibit 46a through 46c, my written appeal to the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs, dated 12/31/2010.
Exhibit 47a and 47b, Letter from Health and Resource Management, USPS. Subject: COP Recovery, OWCP File #112060727, Claim Denied. This letter gives me the option of substituting sick leave, annual leave or leave without pay for the continuation of pay I received from 10/8/10 through 11/7/10, a total of 176 hours. Written by Diane H Brown, HRM Specialist, Gateway District. Letter dated 11/29/2011
Exhibit 48, Statement from USPS Disbursing Officer, of my owing $4393.31 in Worker’s Comp claim. Customer number 02921036, dated 1/23/2012
(Another point here, with them not updating my work status to clerk, is that every 60 days they require me to get a new light duty paperwork—should be limited duty because it was a work related injury-- completed and turned in).
Exhibits 49 through 63b are all medical documentation dated 9/26/2010 through 01/26/2011 which shows that every time I had medical attention I brought the documentation to work.
Exhibit 64, gave me a ‘light duty’ (again, should have been limited duty), with the Duties: Manual distribution of letters, per physical limitations, dated 3/4/2011
In the manual operation there are 3 sections of cases to manually sort letters; they are 650,652 and 653. There are 5 employees for these 3 sections and also, if any other employee in the facility are on light or limited duty, they are placed in this section to throw letters. Because of this, there is not enough work to keep everyone busy. I am listed as being ‘light duty’ and also junior to the other employees that are on limited/light duty, and they have assigned sections that they work.
When the work runs out in the manual operation (which happens often, due to the amount of employees they have working in that section), I am moved to go hash letter trays all night long, or various other tasks. I am sent there for more than my medical documentation allows. Since they have me listed as ‘light duty’ versus limited duty, they will send me home if I don’t stay busy. So I am forced to do the job for prolonged time periods, which violates my restrictions, in order to not be sent home without pay.
In April of 2011, I was asked to be a 204B and accepted due to the decline of my physical capabilities.
In mid-July of 2011, I decided to step down from the management team due to several issues that I felt were unethical. I had been told to do things such as backdate documentation, etc, that I just didn’t feel comfortable with. I was nervous about telling the real reasons why I had come to this decision.
I told management that the choice was due to health concerns and that I needed more time to address my physical requirements and also to be a parent to my kids (which was also true). During my 204Bing months, I often worked 6 or more days per week, up to 12 hours. Of course you weren’t supposed to work OT, so I had to get ‘all my work done’ but stay in 8 hours per day. Yeah right.
Soon thereafter, I was informed by Debbie Cozean, a 204B, that they were trying to help me with the D-RACK Program. This would allow me to do my custodial job again, using reasonable accommodation, and she acted like it was a sure thing. It was very exciting that I would again be able to work on tasks that I could complete without
Exhibit 65a and 65b, a letter from Christine Bartholf, the District Reasonable Accommodation Chairperson. It gave me choices with how to proceed, one of which was to provide her with written request for consideration by the reasonable accommodation committee.
Exhibit 66 my response to this letter from Christine Bartholf, which outlined my situation with being taken out of custodial position, etc. I also included the agreement (see Exhibit 31) from previous Plant Manager Earl Randal.
So getting me into this custodial position was a done deal. Christine Bartholf told me twice verbally on the telephone that I had this job. During one of these conversations she asked me about a grievance that I had pending.
Exhibit 67 APWU Document from Step 1 Grievance regarding my not being able to stay in the custodial job that I had been awarded (see Exhibit 33, job started 9/4/2010), dated 9/23/2010
Exhibit 68 APWU Document from Step 2 Grievance regarding my not being able to stay in the custodial job that I had been awarded (see Exhibit 33, job started 9/4/2010), dated 10/8/2010
This grievance was about getting back into the custodial job. Christine asked me if I was willing to drop this grievance I was told that Sheila Smith talked to Lee Hudson, Alan Sommers (204B) and Sue Gardner (APWU President) that I had this job. Christine Bartholf told me that I was to start this custodial job on August 23, 2011 and that the paperwork had been sent to Sheila Smith.
In mid-August many employees were unhappy, and they sent a letter to St Louis regarding alleged harassment and vindictiveness of management. At that point the Threat Assessment Team was called in. This was a team of 2 people that interviewed those employees, one of which was me.
I felt it necessary that I bring forth my concerns about the unethical conduct that I had witnessed.
I was called to the office to talk to Arthur (I think that was his name) from St. Louis. I expressed to him my concerns that if I spoke out there would be retaliation and more harassment. So I asked that the meeting be confidential and Arthur said it would remain so. He seemed very concerned and I felt that I could speak freely; and I did so. I spoke about being instructed to falsify documentation, and my personal experiences of being sexually harassed. ( I was physically grabbed while crude suggestions were made to me.
When this happened I reported it immediately to my acting MDO, Lorenzo Fleming. I wrote a statement of this misconduct, and nothing happened to the employee that sexually harassed me).
The second time this happened I reported it to Lee Hudson, who did handle it. But my frustration was that it should not have happened again. It shouldn’t have happened the first time, but when it did, it should have been handled correctly. It is disheartening that some members of the management ‘team’ don’t handle serious matters like these. In the USPS, sexual harassment has been described as a very serious matter, and that it must be investigated immediately.
That’s part of the reason I spoke out at the Threat Assessment opportunity.
After the threat assessment was finalized, both management (Plant Manager, Sheila Smith), and the APWU (Sue Gardner, President) received copies of all meetings, including who stated what, during these supposedly confidential interviews.
Shortly thereafter, when I asked Sue Gardner (APWU President) about the status of the custodial reasonable accommodation job that had already been approved, and I was told I should have started, Sue told me that Sheila Smith (Plant Manager) told her that she’d never received the paperwork. It had been approved, and it was obvious that Sheila was taking the Threat Assessment Issues out on me and my position. This was my job, how can she not allow me to have it?
Christine Bartholf called me in mid-October and stated that it had become a decision for me not to get the custodial job because the requirements for the custodial job had changed. This was a clear case of them just changing some paperwork to keep this job out of my reach, in my opinion.
She also stated that my original custodial job that I had received in February 2010 was made specifically for my physical limitations. As you can See from Exhibit 18, that is not the case.
I worked the job and the physical demands that it required for 9 months without incident. This is the job that the USPS has never even informed Workers’ Comp that I’m not even currently doing. Yet the management at the Columbia MO P & DC they won’t LET ME do it. That is the job I should currently have.
The harassment continued and increased.
During the time I stepped down from 204Bing in August 2011 through the end of October 2011, it seemed like management was trying to get revenge for me being a part of the threat assessment meetings.
I had an absence that I turned in FMLA documentation for, and I received a letter about this absence.
Exhibit 69 ‘Absence Inquiry Letter’ from Debbie Cozean that stated that I had failed to keep my supervisor aware of my status, furthermore, that I didn’t have enough hours to qualify for FMLA leave. This was a threat to make my absence AWOL and that discipline could follow, dated 9/22/2011
Exhibit 70, documentation from Bridget Early MD dated 9/20/11
Exhibit 71, documentation from Bridget Early MD, dated 9/22/11
When I filed for FMLA leave I received a Form WH-381 which showed that I was eligible for FMLA. I had also turned in documentation several times that I needed to be off. So the letter from Debbie Cozean was harassment. This form is exhibit 72, below.
Exhibit 72, Dept of Labor form WH-381 that proves that I was FMLA protected, dated 9/16/2011,
Exhibit 73, Upon return to work I was given a 3971 to sign, and the form stated that it was not FMLA protected. I refused to sign the form. I’m not sure of the date that this happened. It was a lengthy absence due my knee and my back going out, dated 9/30/11
*(I haven’t received a signed 3971 back from my management since September.)
Exhibit 74, a letter from Sheila Smith stating that my light duty has expired (should be limited). This happens every 60 days, even though I have an MMI, dated 10/7/2011
Exhibit 75, a copy of the light duty documentation that my doctor has to prepare every 60 days. It also costs me a doctor visit fee to get this filled out. (More harassment.) exhibit dated 10/10/11
I have since had to get another light duty documentation filled out in December, which has been turned in.
12/8/2011, at about 9:20pm I was once again struck at work with a piece of equipment, by George Barckho.
George shoved a cage into two other cages that were side by side, and it was the last one in the line of cages that struck me. So it was the force of 3 cages striking me in the right side. This injured my back and knees (AGAIN). I went to the supervisor immediately, Jessica Tennon and told her what happened, I was in extreme pain, and Jessica said ‘you’re always in pain, Naidra.’ and waived me away while rolling her eyes. I called my doctor and she told me to try my stretching exercise at breaktime to see if that gave some relief to the pain.
I asked Jessica to see a union steward and a safety captain. She didn’t respond but she had me fill out a form to request union time and also a request to see the safety captain. After 2 hours I had not been given any time. I could not work anymore.
My pain was excruciating. I went back into her office and told her that I was going home. I knew that I would be facing more harassment, but my body has taken so much abuse that I could not continue working in that amount of pain.
Exhibit 76 my 3971, that stated that I had been struck by ‘George B’. Of course it wasn’t signed by a supervisor because my 3971s never are anymore, 3971 dated 12/8/11, time that I left work was 11:30pm.
On the 3971, I marked for them to charge my sick leave because I knew that if I didn’t the harassment would come full force. I was also praying that my body would recover from this injury, and the pain would subside within a few days if I just rested as much as possible.
The next morning, at 8:01am (12/9/11), the secretary of the Plant, Kerri Peirson, called me to say that I needed to fill out some paperwork for Jessica Tennon, and that Jessica would come to my home that morning for my signatures.
I informed her that I had a doctor appointment and when I was done I would come to the plant….it was on the way, and I had a driver.
Exhibit 77a, 77b, Medical Documentation from Bridget Early, MD, reporting ‘On 12/9/11, pt presented to our clinic with a complaint of right arm pain, left knee pain and lower back pain. She stated 3 cages were slammed into her while at work, injuring her arm, causing her kneet o buckle and later that day developed back pain.’ dated 1/31/2012
During this visit, she noted contusions/bruising on my right arm and she ordered x-rays of my right side. She also popped my knee into place because it had been in severe pain since George B ran the cages into me. When I the cages barreled into my right side, my left knee took the brunt of the force.
After seeing Dr. Early on 12/9/2011, I arrived at the plant at about 2pm. I had taken more pain medication than I’d ever had before. I was in no condition to drive, and I do not remember what they had me sign. I’m sure my signature looks interesting, maybe it’s just a big X.
I went back to work 4-5 days later, and was able to work a few days at a time before the trauma from the injury would cause more damage and pain, which caused me to be off work to recuperate. I did this a few times because I suspected they were trying to hide this accident, and I wasn’t going to get paid without using my own leave. My leave was very low and I knew that I needed to keep working if at all possible to get paid.
It was also Christmastime at the plant, our busiest and most important time of the year for production. So I worked as much as my body could tolerate, using as much pain medication as was safe for me to take, just to get through a shift.
Please see exhibit 77a, 77b,which show that I went back to Bridget Early, MD on 12/22/11 for back and knee pain.
Please see exhibit 77a, 77b, which show that I went back to Bridget Early, MD on 1/5/12 with continued back pain.
Please see exhibit 77a, 77b, which show that I went back to Bridget Early, MD on 1/11/12 to evaluate my ability to go back to work.
Finally, in the first week of January my back went completely out. I was bent at the waist and could not stand erect. My lower back was stuck and I could not straighten.
Please see exhibit 77a, 77b, which show that on 1/5/12 I again went to see Bridget Early, MD, with my continued back pain. They generated a letter for work indicating a need for leave of absence.
Please see exhibit 77a and 77b, which show that on 1/11/12 I again went to see Bridget Early, MD, to evaluate my ability to go back to work. I was continuing to have knee pain and feeling like ligaments had torn. I also had continued back pain and was unable to stand in a fully erect position. Dr. Early again generated documentation for work that I was unable to return.
Exhibit 77a and 77b, which show that on 1/20/12 I again went to see Bridget Early, MD, with continued back pain. My left knee had also blown out 1/22/12.
Exhibit 77c, I went to see Dr. Marberry on 1/25/12 and he told me to use a knee immobilizer and to use crutches with a non-weight bearing status. Dr. Marberry requested that I not work through 2/8/12.
Exhibit 78, Medical Documentation from Bridget Early MD, which states: that I have been under her care. I was seen on 1/20/12 and ‘continues to exhibit pain on a level that is incapacitating. Please excuse her from work through 1/26/12. This is associated with a FMLA illness/injury’. dated 1/20/12
The office of Bridget Early, MD gave faxed documentation to my workplace to keep them informed of my incapacity and ongoing medical treatment.
On January 27, 2012 I received a priority envelope that had been left at my eldest daughter’s workplace, a gas station, for her to bring to me.(she does not live with me, so sometimes I don’t see her for many days at a time). Inside was the next exhibit, which was written on January 20, 2012. I don’t live at a gas station. I don’t even know how they would expect me to receive a priority letter that they left at a gas station.
Exhibit 79a, 79b, This is a ‘certificate of absence’ from Madonna Herrmann. She is an MDO at the Columbia MO plant. Her letter stated that my plant had not received acceptable documentation, from January 5, 2012 to the present date of 1/20/12.
It also read that I had to bring in acceptable documentation within 5 days or I would be charged with AWOL and possibly disciplined. It also stated, ‘Regardless of whether FMLA has been requested and approved, you are still directed to send the requested documentation to this office.” I had an approved FMLA case, this seems to be more harassment.
Exhibit 80 an attachment to Exhibit 79a, 79b which shows what is acceptable medical evidence and the ramifications (i.e. threats) for not providing them.
Exhibit 81, note from gas station employee who was given my priority envelope. It states: “I Andrea Smith was working on January 27th when a mailman asked if Rose was working and I said no that she would be in later and he asked if he could leave some mail for her to give her sister and I said sure.”
The gas station was: BreakTime; 110 E Nifong, Columbia MO, 65203. That is not my address.
In response to this threatening letter, Bridget Early, MD once again sent documentation. Please again see exhibit 77a and 77b.
After many attempts to get assistance from my local union went ignored, I finally sent a message to Bob Kessler, a higher up APWU official. It also went unanswered.
Exhibit 82a,82b my message to him, dated 1/29/2012
Exhibit 83, Medical Documentation from Kevin Marberry, MD., which reads that I cannot work until March 1, 2012. Also that I am seeing Dr. Aleto (he is the doctor who will be replacing my right knee). During this visit with Dr. Marberry he voiced his frustration about the USPS harassing him regarding this documentation.
Between 1/25/12 and 2/8/12 my right knee went out while I was using the crutches. This will require a knee replacement, and after I heal from that my left knee will have to be operated on as well. If these body parts are not fixed, my back will go out again, and I could be left in a wheelchair by the end of the year.
I’m sure you can see my alarm and the reason that it’s come to sending you this binder full of information. I have nowhere else to turn.
Here’s how these injuries have affected me:
Since these injuries, I have not been able to function as I had before. My quality of life has suffered significantly. I have had to take pain medication daily just to function. I cannot sit or stand for long periods of time, or my legs go numb. The numbness has even caused me to lose control of my bladder, without my knowledge. Imagine that happening to you. From work related accidents. I used to travel often.
I used to love to travel, to drive long distances to see my family and friends. That was a passion that I had. Now, I can drive only short distances, and I have even had to start wearing diapers. If I sit or stand in one position for too long, my legs go numb and I lose control of my bladder without even knowing it. One of those times I was sitting on my couch, and my teen age daughter is the one that noticed that I wet myself.
I used to be able to play with my children. Watch a movie. Hold my nieces and nephews. Hold my own children. Now I couldn’t pick them up if they were hurt even in an emergency.
Seriously, can you even imagine going through something like that? I have worked so hard all my life, I have a good work ethic, I was so proud to have a postal job, and now I’m reduced to stand/sit/stand/sit with a main goal to not urinate on anything?
Last week, on Tuesday, my pain became so great that I was suicidal. I wrote a message to my family on the computer, and I was prepared to take all the medication that I had left, which would have done the job. My mother saw the message first and alerted my twin sister in the middle of the night. They talked some sense into me, and with the help of my older brother (APWU president in Kalispell MT) devised this plan to beg for assistance from you. Up until that point none of my family could comprehend the level of harassment that I have been through. This stress from work, compounded by my intense chronic pain, is something that is impossible to convey.
Until seeing the documentation, it is very hard to comprehend, or even believe.
This is typed by my twin sister, who drove down here from Illinois to help me get this organized, typed and mailed. Without her, my voice would still not be heard.
If you need ANY other information, please do not hesitate to call me at any time. I thank you so much for reading to the end of this. If I have left any confusion about anything, please ask me.
Columbia MO "
Keywords for Research
Kansas City NBA, Alan Sommers, Kerri Peirson, Sheila M. Smith Plant Manager, Lorango Fleming, Madonna R. Hermann, Christine Bartholf, Sue Gardner APWU President, Mike Dolson, Lee Hudson, David L. Sprague, Jessica Tennon, Debbie Cozean, George B. Stanek, Doug Roberts, Tanya Linder, Sheila M. Smith, Doug Roberts, Tanya Linder, Alan Sommers, Kerri Peirson, Sheila M. Smith Plant Manager, Lorango Fleming, Madonna R. Hermann, Christine Bartholf, Sue Gardner APWU President, Mike Dolson, Lee Hudson, David L. Sprague, Jessica Tennon, Debbie Cisean,George B. Stanek of Columbia Ohio will be under a Department of Justice Investigation, OSHA Investigation, Workers Compensation and Department of Labor Investigation, USPS, OWCP, Susan M. Carney Human Relations Department APWU, Greg Bell APWU Executive Vice President,