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Anne_C, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 2302
Experience:  15 Years Litigation Experience
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First of all I work for USPS. I was in an EEO ...

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First of all I work for USPS. I was in an EEO arbitration meeting with three other people. In that meeting out of the blue my postmaster said that I was "bi-polar". I believe that violates the disparate treatment clause. Now could I prove it. In hindsite I should have had the arbitrator note that on paper but didn''t at the time as I wasn''t more interested in resolving issues rather than creating more. My supervisor was there but he would never go against the pm. The arbitrator I assume is very busy and it''s been since January and she probably, wouldn''t remember, so that leaves me. How it affects me is that the pm as not made a permanent route for me and I believe it''s because she is discriminating against me.

Dear Hobe Sound, Florida:

  • What was the nature of the EEO hearing?
  • Why did your diagnosis of bi-polar come up?
  • Have you asked for accommodations for your disability?
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
The EEO hearing is unrelated to this question. Actually it is not resolved but I have an avenue to resolve that. The only reason I brought that up is because that is where she(post master) made the comment. It was completely out of the blue. I was not diagnosised as bi-polar. She stated that as fact as if she had some medical degree or something.   

Part of the ADA states: "Is regarded as having such an impairment." The question is, do I have any legal recourse for her stating in front of two other people a condition that was not diagnosed by a doctor? I get the next available route and I have reason to believe she is NOT making one as she believes I'm bi-polar

Dear Hobe Sound, Florida:

I agree with you -- the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to individuals who are disables, or individuals that are perceived to be disabled. It's obvious that you're familiar with the ADA, but here is a link so you have it with this discussion:

Although you don't have bipolar disorder, at least three people think you do. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness, and mental illnesses can be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Here's some information on how bipolar disorder can be accommodated under the ADA: So, even if your employer wrongfully believed that you are bipolar, there are duties to accommodate.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) takes and investigates complaints of failure to accommodate an employee under the ADA. Although you've already been through the EEOC on an unrelated matter, here's a link to the complaint information for you:

It's impossible to know if your employer is actually discriminating against you on the basis of the perceived disability without knowing the USPS side of the story, of course. Hopefully, the EEOC will be able to straighten that out for you.

With respect to her statement that you have a serious mental illness (bipolar disorder is considered a serious mental illness) that is defamation. Specifically, it's slander because it was spoken. However, since it was said in the context of an arbitration, it probably would be considered protected by "litigation privilege" ("litigation privilege" does not just apply to lawsuits; it also applies to other proceedings, including arbitration). If it was repeated outside the arbitration, however, it wouldn't be a protected communication.

Finally, I'm sure you already realize this, but because you are in a Union, you do need to work within the grievance procedures of the union first. However, you only have 180 days from the date of the discrimination to file a complaint within EEOC, so don't forget to do so.

Good luck with your situation.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Anne_C's Post: Actually my post master was right. Subsequent to that meeting I scheduled an appointment and have been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. I'd like to consider asking for accomodations for my "serious mental disorder." Do I go to the post master first? What is the procedure?
You refer me to three different websites and I am unable to interpret them which is why I contacted "justanswer." I am unable to process and understand information that is unfamiliar to me. By the way, you've been terrific. I was just about to go to my credit card and ask for my money back.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Okay. You,ve sent me three different websites none of which I can make heads or tails of. One says I have 180 days to file a complaint. I have tried several times to do that and can't.

Regarding your response that "three people think that I do" that statement is not true as the arbitrator had no comment as she did not know me at all. We met for the first time that day. And I, of course, did not agree. So it seems it was my two bosses that, from observing agreed. I noticed that when my post master said it, my supervisor looked at her as if he agreed but was confused by the statement. As if she shouldn't have said that.

Dear Hobe Sound, Florida:

Just to confirm: You've filed a complaint of failure to make reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the EEOC won't accept the complaint and won't investigate it?

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
No, I have not filed as I do not know how to. Do I go to the EEOC, my manager? Please can you give me specific information on how to file for accomodations? What and where do I go first?

Dear Hobe Sound, Florida:

Thank you for the additional information. To request reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are either going to need to go to your manager or to Human Relations. Which one you go to will depend on your employee manual. If the manual does not address the situation, you can ask them both at the same time, either in a meeting or by e-mail.

If your manager or HR will not reasonably accommodate your disability, then you would file a grievance with your union. You will need to follow your union's grievance procedures carefully.

If still you aren't given reasonable accommodations, then you would file a complaint with the EEOC and ask them to investigate. Here is the link to that form again:

I think that the 180 day limit for filing a complaint with the EEOC would start to run from the date that you ask for accommodations, but I am concerned that your employer realized that you were bipolar before you did. Therefore, you should give the EEOC a call, explain the situation, and make sure that the time they are concerned with starts from the date you ask for accommodations. Here is their phone number so you can call and ask them:

You may actually need to file an EEOC complaint at the same time your Union is handling the grievance, to file within the 180 days, to preserve your rights with the EEOC. Check with the Union and see if their grievance procedures "toll" or stop the 180 day time to file a complaint with the EEOC.

Good luck.

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