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HILL v. USPS

September 3, 1981

Arthur HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CANNELLA

After a trial on the merits of plaintiff's amended complaint, the Court finds for defendants. The amended complaint is dismissed.

FACTS

Plaintiff Arthur Hill, a black man, alleges that the former policies and practices maintained by defendants, the United States Postal Service and several of its officials, respecting the employment of individuals with criminal records, discriminated against him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq., and the due process clause of the fifth amendment. *fn1" Hill and three other Postal Service applicants, Earl Sutherland, Anthony Ferruzzi and Darryl Robertson, who had been denied employment allegedly on the basis of their prior convictions, commenced this action on July 7, 1977. *fn2" At that time, Postal Service policies and procedures governing the assessment of suitability of applicants were contained in a revised Personnel Handbook, Series P-11 (the "Handbook"), which provided in pertinent part:

 
313.2 Partial List of Reasons Which May Disqualify Eligibles
 
In making selections for any type of accession, determination must be made whether an eligible or applicant might be disqualified for reasons such as the following:
 
a. Dismissal from prior employment for cause.
 
b. Criminal or other conduct of such nature which, if engaged in by a postal employee, would undermine the efficiency of the Postal Service.
 
c. Intentional false statements, deception, or fraud in examination or appointment.
 
d. Refusal to furnish requested testimony or information to the Postal Service, or the appointing officer, which has been requested pursuant to applicable laws, rules and regulations.
 
e. A history of habitual use of intoxicating beverages to excess.
 
f. Abuse of narcotics or dangerous drugs.
 
g. Reasonable doubt as to the loyalty of the eligible to the Government of the United States.
 
h. Conviction of theft or embezzlement.
 
i. Conviction of crimes of violence, including assault with a deadly weapon.
 
j. Any legal or other disqualification which makes the applicant unfit for the Postal Service.
 
313.4 Criminal Convictions
 
.41 Use of Arrest Records
 
.411 Arrests for criminal charges should be given no consideration in evaluating an applicant for employment, if the charges have been dismissed, if there has been an acquittal, if the proceedings have otherwise not resulted in a conviction, or where the record of such charges does not contain or reflect an actual conviction on such charges.
 
.412 No inquiries should be made, either orally or in writing, of the applicant or of any other person, concerning arrest records, except where the arrest actually resulted in a criminal conviction, or where the charges are still pending. In addition, when inquiring as to the conviction record of any applicant for employment from any person or agency, including law enforcement agencies, postal officials shall state orally, or in writing, that:
 
It is not the policy of the U.S. Postal Service to inquire into the arrest records of applicants for employment, where the charges arising out of an arrest have been dismissed, there has been an acquittal, the proceedings have otherwise not resulted in a conviction, or where the record of such charges does not contain or reflect an actual conviction of such charges. If possible, please exclude all such charges in the requested conviction record, except those still pending.
 
.413 Appointing officials are not prohibited from considering or inquiring into criminal charges pending against any applicant. If the appointing official receives any records or information where the deposition of a criminal charge is not adequately reflected, or where the charge is still pending, the applicant is to be given an opportunity to explain the surrounding circumstances of the charges and whether the charges have been terminated in his or her favor.
 
.42 Serious Crimes
 
Where the eligible has been convicted of a serious crime, such as a felony involving an act of violence, armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, arson, etc., or a series of minor crimes (misdemeanors), additional inquiry should be made:
 
a. If the application form is incomplete or contains false statements or unaccounted periods or an otherwise poor record, the appointing official must make further checks.
 
b. If the applicant has been imprisoned and/or placed on parole, the warden, or officer in charge of the institution(s) involved should be queried regarding the eligible's conduct, cooperation, progress toward rehabilitation, etc. Similarly, parole officers and social service workers or agencies should be questioned regarding cooperation, attitude, problems, if any, progress toward rehabilitation, and employability.
 
.43 Conviction Records
 
After reviewing all available information concerning the eligible, the following ...

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