November 24, 2009 in City

Postal worker sues over firing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A former Spokane postal supervisor is suing the U.S. Postal Service, saying it wrongly fired him after he refused to accept a late delivery of Netflix DVDs back in 2007.

John A. Branda, a 58-year-old Spokane Valley resident, said the event happened in July 2007 when he was supervisor of the Postal Service’s inbound bulk mail receiving area at the processing plant near the Spokane Airport.

Branda said he was responsible for accepting bulk mail and packages and making sure they left the dock and moved to the interior of the processing center by 6:30 p.m.

Trucks must bring items to the bulk mailing hub by 6 p.m., the Postal Service says.

In this instance a Netflix driver arrived several minutes after 6 p.m. with a truckload of more than 20,000 DVDs that had been handled at a nearby shipping center.

Branda said two other late-arriving customers had arrived just ahead of the Netflix truck. All three were told they were late, Branda said in an interview. “If I took the Netflix (shipments) I would have also had to take the others, and would never had been done by 6:30,” he explained.

Branda finished his shift and went home. He later received a call from a Netflix employee, and then a second call from a Netflix executive. They asked him to order the processing center staff to take the DVDs, according to the lawsuit.

“John was told that unless he (took the mailings) they would ‘escalate’ this incident,” said Mark Hodgson, the Spokane attorney representing Branda.

To that point Branda had never had any disciplinary problems working for the Postal Service, Hodgson said.

The following day, said Hodgson, Branda’s superiors placed him on administrative leave and later fired him over the matter.

The suit, in Spokane County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages from the Postal Service for its dismissal of Branda.

Earlier this fall Branda also filed a suit in Spokane County, alleging that Netflix’s officials had slandered him over the incident.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service said attorneys have not yet reviewed the suit and couldn’t comment.

Steve Swasey, a vice president for Netflix in charge of communications, said the company does not comment on pending lawsuits.


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