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MODULE 5. USPS RESPONSIBILITIES & GUIDELINES. RESPONSIBILITIES & GUIDELINES. UPON COMPLETION OF THIS MODULE, PARTICIPANTS SHOULD UNDERSTAND:. USPS responsibilities to provide a violence-free workplace within the parameters of legal and regulatory considerations.

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MODULE 5

USPS RESPONSIBILITIES

& GUIDELINES


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RESPONSIBILITIES & GUIDELINES

UPON COMPLETION OF THIS MODULE, PARTICIPANTS SHOULD UNDERSTAND:

  • USPS responsibilities to provide a violence-free workplace within the parameters of legal and regulatory considerations

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STATUTES

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act

  • Family and Medical Leave Act

  • Federal Employees Compensation Act

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

  • Occupational Safety and Health Act

  • Privacy Act

  • Public Health Service Act

  • Rehabilitation Act

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of l964

  • United States Code, Title 18

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REGULATIONS

  • Code of Federal Regulations

  • Administrative Support Manual (ASM)

  • Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM)

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POLICIES & PRACTICES

  • Joint Statement on Violence and Behavior in the Workplace

  • Policy Statement on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identification, and Gender Stereotyping

  • Policy on Workplace Harassment

  • Policy Statement on Firearms in the Workplace

  • Publication 45, A Violence-Free Workplace

  • Fitness for Duty Examinations (MI EL-860-2000-7)

  • Duty to Warn

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OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1970

  • Broad Statute to Ensure Safe Workplace

    • “…free from recognized hazards causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm”

    • Requires employers to “comply with standards promulgated under Act”

    • 1989: voluntary program guidelines, including violence prevention

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OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1970

The Guidelines Include:

  • Management at the highest levels should provide the motivation and commitment to ensure workplace safety and deal effectively with workplace violence

  • Encourage employee involvement to report incidents of violence

  • Follow through and investigate all incidents and threats

  • Provide training addressing awareness of potential security hazards and protection strategies

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OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1970

Formation of Threat Assessment Team

  • Identify existing or potential hazards

  • Assess workplace security

  • Identify patterns of assault

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USPS JOINT STATEMENT ON VIOLENCE AND BEHAVIOR IN THE WORKPLACE

  • “every employee and every level to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness”

  • Continued unacceptable behavior results in removal “… from their positions”

  • Evolved from a pledge to enforceable contractual obligation

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CIVIL RIGHTS STATUTES WORKPLACE

  • Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 - prohibits discrimination and harassment of the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act – protects individuals 40 and over from discrimination and harassment based on age

  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of either mental or physical disability

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WORKPLACE HARASSMENT WORKPLACE

Two Corresponding Policies

  • Prohibiting harassment upon all bases protected under the laws – age, color, national origin, religion, sex, race and disability

  • Prohibiting harassed based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender stereotyping

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REHABILITATION ACT WORKPLACE

Prohibits illegal discrimination against individuals meeting three defining aspects:

  • Must have impairment – physical or mental that

  • Substantially or severely limits them

  • In performance of a major life activity, e.g., walking, seeing, hearing, breathing

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REHABILITATION ACT WORKPLACE

  • Rulings on highly individualized basis

  • Can be used to protect people without disabilities, but regarded as such   

  • Supreme Court – “…reaction of others can prove just as disabling and a bona fide disability”

  • Prohibition against making disability – related inquiries

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METZ vs. Dept. of Treasury WORKPLACE

THE METZ CRITERIA - WHAT CONSTITUTES A “CREDIBLE THREAT”

1986 Federal Circuit Decision defining legal standard of threat

  • Listener’s reaction

  • Listener’s apprehension of harm

  • Speaker's intent

  • Firm vs. Conditional nature of statements

  • Attendant circumstances

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PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 WORKPLACE

Protects records about individuals maintained in government’s system of records from disclosure

  • Record – any item, collection, or grouping of information about an individual, maintained by an agency

  • System of record – records under control of agency from which information is retrieved by some individual identifier

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PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 WORKPLACE

EXAMPLES

(scenarios included on note page of this slide)

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PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 WORKPLACE

  • Covered records may be disclosed to employees who have a “need for the record in the performance of their duties”.

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Note: Verbal disclosures of information obtained from Privacy Act records are prohibited.

PRIVACY ACT OF 1974

  • Covered records may be disclosed pursuant to “routine uses”, e.g.

     Disclosure of medical records to employee’s treating physician

    Disclosure of personnel records for law enforcement purposes

    Disclosure to an employee’s union, when needed to perform duties as collective bargaining agent

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PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 Privacy

TAT Records

  • Minutes, notes, etc., are not retrieved by personal identifier

  • Fall outside purview of the Act

  • Ensures confidentiality of witness statements

  • Ensures that alleged threatener does not get access

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PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT Privacy

  • Records about employees using EAP are given extensive protection

  • Employee’s written authorization is required except in:

    • Disclosures to elements of criminal justice system which have referred patients

    • Communications within a program or between a program and the entity having administrative control over it

    • Medical emergencies

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PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT Privacy

  • Research activities, audits, and program evaluations

  • Crimes on program premises or against program personnel

  • Reports of suspected child abuse and neglect

  • Court orders in cases necessary to protect against a threat to one’s safety; in cases of an extremely serious crime; and in connection with litigation where patient offers evidence about confidential communications

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Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) 1996

  • Comprehensive health reform to improve availability of health insurance

  • Amended to provide federal privacy protections for medical information

  • Patient written authorization for release

  • Limited to the minimum needed for the purpose of the disclosure

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Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) 1996

  • Covers health care providers and health plans

    • Employee must sign HIPAA authorization to allow provider to release information

  • Exceptions:

    • Workers’ compensation claims

    • OSHA – information concerning work- related injuries or illnesses

    • Necessary to prevent or deter a serious and imminent threat of harm (to intended victim and law enforcement)

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FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA) 1996

  • Employee medical information is confidential

  • In rare circumstances information on medical certification could be pertinent to a threat

  • Local counsel should be consulted when confidential data is sought

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DUTY TO WARN 1996

Review Questions in Participant Guide

  • Originated in 1976 case heard by California Supreme Court, Tarasoff vs. Regents of the University of California; Common law concept that has been codified in many states

  • Health care providers are exception to rule that a person has no duty to prevent a third party from causing physical harm to another

  • Duty applies when provider reasonably believes that patient poses imminent and serious risk of harm to a foreseeable victim

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FITNESS FOR DUTY EXAMINATION 1996

Supervisors will confront incidences of violence or potential violence, and therefore, they must be prepared to deal with them.

One of the most valuable tools to deal with such situations (aptly applied) is the Fitness for Duty Exam.

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FITNESS FOR DUTY EXAMINATION 1996

When Is a FFD Exam Appropriate?

When an employee's supervisor believes, or the employee claims, that the employee may be medically incapable of meeting the requirements of his or her job. (ELM 864.31)

This could encompass situations where the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of his/her job or where the employee’s behavior gives rise to concern. (Management Instruction EL-860-2000-7)

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FITNESS FOR DUTY EXAMINATION 1996

Who Can Request It?

Management can order an exam at any time and repeat, as necessary, to safeguard the employee or co-workers. ELM 864.32

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FITNESS FOR DUTY EXAMINATION 1996

What Information Should the Referring Official Provide?

The supervisor should always state the specific reasons why an exam is being requested and must support the FFD request with a written narrative describing the reasons for the request.

Information about the job the employee holds, any medical information the supervisor has, attendance information and observations about work performance and behaviors are essential elements of this request.

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FEDERAL EMPLOYEES’ COMPENSATION ACT 1996

The last law we are going to mention is FECA and it is appropriate for this to come at the end because FECA will only come into play after an incident of violence occurs.

  • provides government employees who have an occupational illness, injury or who are killed in the course of their employment, with more immediate and less expensive relief than a common law tort action

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FEDERAL EMPLOYEES’ COMPENSATION ACT 1996

FECA provides for payment of several types of benefits, including:

  • compensation for wage loss

  • medical benefits

  • monetary compensation to specified survivors of an employee whose death resulted from a work-related injury

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INJUNCTIVE RELIEF 1996

Another measure available to protect people threatened by others is to obtain a court order -- in the form of a temporary restraining order or injunction -- which forbids the harasser from going near the victim or contacting the victim.

States usually have such anti-stalking laws, as well as laws protecting victims of domestic violence from contact with their alleged abuser.

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LAWS & REGULATIONS 1996

The laws and regulations in this next section specifically prohibit certain criminal acts and often, can be relied upon as grounds for removal.

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LAWS & REGULATIONS 1996

Mailing Threatening Communications, 18 U.S.C. 876

Prohibits using the mails to communicate a threat to injure a person with intent to extort money or other thing of value, or, with the intent to extort, threatens to injure the property or reputation of a person, or to accuse the person of a crime.

Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities, 18 U.S.C. 930

(a) ...whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility ...or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

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LAWS & REGULATIONS 1996

Government property or contracts, 18 U.S.C. 1361

Prohibits the injury or destruction of government property.

Chapter 83 of Title 18: Postal Service

Numerous provisions from section 1691 through 1737 covering the Postal Service and protection of the mails.

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CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS 1996

Part 232 - Conduct on Postal Property

Preservation of property: 232.1(c)

Improperly disposing of rubbish, spitting, creating any hazard to persons or things, throwing articles of any kind from a building, climbing upon the roof or any part of a building, or willfully destroying, damaging, or removing any property or any part thereof, is prohibited.

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CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS 1996

Part 232 - Conduct on Postal Property

Disturbances: 232.1(e)

Disorderly conduct, or conduct which creates loud and unusual noise, or which obstructs the usual use of entrances, foyers, corridors, offices, elevators, stairways, and parking lots, or which otherwise tends to impede or disturb the public employees in the performance of their duties, or which otherwise impedes or disturbs the general public in transacting business or obtaining the services provided on property, is prohibited.

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CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS 1996

Part 232 - Conduct on Postal Property

Weapons and Explosives: 232.1(l)

No person while on postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes.

Nondiscrimination: 232.1(m)

There must be no discrimination by segregation or otherwise against any person or persons because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age…reprisal...or physical or mental handicap.

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ELM REFERENCES 1996

ELM Chapter 660: Conduct

662: Federal Standards of Ethical Conduct

665: Postal Service Standards of Conduct

665.15 - Obedience to Orders

665.16 - Behavior and Personal Habits

665.23 - Discrimination

665.24 - Violent and/or Threatening Behavior

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ELM REFERENCES 1996

ELM Chapter 670: Diversity, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Affirmative Action

673.22 - Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment

673.31 – Diversity, EEO, and Affirmative Action Accountability

ELM Chapter 864: Medical Assessment and Examinations

ELM Chapter 865: Return to Duty after Absence for Medical Reasons

ELM Chapter 870: Employee Assistance Program

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USPS OBLIGATIONS AND GUIDELINES 1996

YOU HAVE COMPLETED MODULE 5

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