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Frank  
#1 Posted : Monday, January 30, 2006 9:19:35 PM(UTC)
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I see we had another postal shooting. This time in CA.
steve5280  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, January 31, 2006 6:09:10 AM(UTC)

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I know it doesnt make the USPS look good. But this kind of thing happens everywhere. People react differently to the way they are treated and to stress on and off the job.
nightclerk  
#3 Posted : Friday, February 3, 2006 11:23:10 PM(UTC)

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How come peaches has not yet blamed postal supervisors for this?
peaches  
#4 Posted : Saturday, February 4, 2006 12:22:38 AM(UTC)

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Article Launched: 02/02/2006 01:00:00 AM

Ruling: Mockery at work led to suicide
Citing a hostile workplace, the Department of Labor awards an annual benefit to the widow of a Pueblo man injured as a mail carrier, then taunted as lazy.
By Erin Emery
Denver Post Staff Writer


Patricia Kruest sits with sons David, left, and George in Pueblo. A ruling linked George Sr.'s suicide to a hostile workplace. (Post / Helen H. Richardson)

Pueblo - Going to work every day for 3 1/2 years as an injured worker at the main branch of the Pueblo post office was unbearable for George Kruest.

According to federal records, supervisors yelled in his face. Managers and co-workers called him lazy. They said he was worthless and he was faking a head and neck injury.

"Go out back and shoot yourself," one worker suggested.

On the morning of Oct. 6, 2002, the 48-year-old Kruest went into his backyard, leaned against the wooden jungle gym he had built for his sons and shot himself in the head.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently ruled that Kruest's death was directly linked to work-related depression. It found that Kruest, who had won awards from the post office, had been in a hostile work environment. It awarded his widow, Patricia Kruest, 50, an annual benefit of a little over $15,000, roughly 45 percent of her husband's annual salary.

"If not for the (depression), there is no reason to believe that he would have committed suicide at the time he did," said Dr. Richard Dorsey, a psychiatrist from Santa Ana, Calif., who reviewed the case for the Department of Labor.

A federal employment lawyer from Denver said such rulings are uncommon.

"I would say it is rare for them to acknowledge that someone is subject to ridicule because they are handicapped and in a hostile environment," said John Evangelesti, who handles cases for injured postal workers.

The U.S. Postal Service disputes the October ruling but cannot appeal it.

"We do disagree with the decision," said Al DeSarro, spokesman for the post office. "I'm trying to say this in the most sensitive way I can, with respect to Mrs. Kruest, but we do not believe that the Postal Service ... contributed in any way to his unfortunate death."

DeSarro said there are "things of a privacy nature" he is prohibited by law from discussing.

Patricia Kruest, who lives with her sons, George Jr., 21, and David, 20, said the Postal Service is in denial about how it treats injured workers in Pueblo.

"The post office response to the Labor Department decision is predictable. They have never acted responsibly, and they probably never will," she said.

The Office of Workers' Compensation denied Patricia Kruest's initial claim. She then sought an oral hearing before Jeffrey J. Reddig, a hearing officer who listened to arguments in June.

Reddig reviewed 133 pages of exhibits, including medical records and 11 signed affidavits, seven of them notarized, from co- workers who overheard disparaging comments directed at Kruest.

"Although the Postal Service denied the allegations, the evidence of record is overwhelming and establishes that postal workers and management heaped abuse on the rehab workers," Reddig wrote in his decision.

At least three doctors said they believed Kruest's depression was related to his work environment. According to Department of Veterans Affairs medical records, Kruest, who had served in the Air Force, talked about his difficulty at work.

"He feels the post office management is out to get him," a notation in Kruest's medical records said.

Spokesman DeSarro said the post office was at a disadvantage because it could not cross-examine witnesses.

The post office filed a 33-page rebuttal in which managers and co-workers denied making nasty remarks or making fun of Kruest's disability. It included a statement from a postal worker who said George Kruest was "sick and tired" of being married - an allegation that Patricia Kruest said was not true.

In May 1999, Kruest, who'd worked for the post office since 1983, tripped on uneven concrete while delivering mail and suffered a head and neck injury.

Doctors restricted the work he could do and set limits on how much he could lift. As a limited-duty worker, Kruest sat in a 10- by-20-foot area and did payroll for contract workers, stuffed envelopes for the "stamps by mail" program and ran errands.
By all accounts, he was a hard worker. But he was subjected to relentless criticism.

During that time, his personality changed, Patricia Kruest said.

"He didn't talk very much," she said. "It was like he was internalizing a lot and didn't share it."

In a notebook found in his locker, Kruest was apparently chronicling the comments: "What's wrong with you ... Oh you did not get better." "Is this a job you can handle." (Smirking.) "Asked if this is the Romper Room Area." "What type of schemer are you. You can't be hurt."

Kruest sought help through the postal Employee Assistance Program, saw psychologists and sought treatment from the VA. An evaluator from the VA noted a supportive wife as one of Kruest's strengths. According to records, he had no previous history of psychiatric problems.

In July 2002, he told the VA he "often feels like he does not want to go on with his life anymore."

Three months later, as his wife and children slept, he scrawled a note and placed it on the windshield of his wife's van.

"To Pattie, George, David. I no longer can live with myself hurting and having my mind so confused. I feel this is the best way away from all of this. Remember I loved all of you. Insurance papers are in this packet. Also you ... will need to contact social security for survivors benefits and education benefits. You will have the money you wanted ... could not provide while alive. Forgive me. Love, George."

Patricia Kruest awoke to a loud noise at 7:45 a.m. on Oct. 6, 2002. She thought someone was shooting cats with a BB gun and lay in bed for a few more minutes.

When she looked out the kitchen window later on, she saw her husband's body. She ran outside and saw the .357-caliber revolver. She ran back inside to call 911.

After the coroner removed the body of Patricia Kruest's husband of more than 27 years, her youngest son, David, took a shovel and turned over the blood- soaked grass. Then he took a sledgehammer and pounded apart the blood-spattered jungle gym. He threw the pieces over the fence.

Staff writer Erin Emery can be reached at 719-522-1360 or eemery@denverpost.com.
peaches  
#5 Posted : Monday, February 6, 2006 2:56:34 PM(UTC)

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Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006 Widow Wins Suit in Postal Worker Suicide

(AP) - PUEBLO, Colo.-Postal worker George Kruest kept a notebook in his office locker that apparently chronicled abusive comments made by his co-workers: "Is this a job you can handle?" and "Go out back and shoot yourself."

Depressed because of the verbal abuse, Kruest shot himself with a revolver in 2002. A final note to his family said: "I no longer can live with myself hurting and having my mind so confused."



A federal worker's compensation investigation has concluded Kruest's suicide was directly linked to work-related depression, the result of hostile comments made by managers and co-workers at the main Pueblo post office.

The U.S. Labor Department awarded his widow $15,000 annually, or about 45 percent of her husband's salary. At the time of his death, Kruest had worked for the Postal Service nearly 20 years.

The Postal Service disputes the October ruling, but cannot appeal, said spokesman Al DeSarro. He noted that the agency could not cross-examine witnesses at the hearing.

"We do not believe that the Postal Service contributed in any way to his unfortunate death," DeSarro told The Denver Post for a story published Thursday.

Kruest suffered a head and neck injury in 1999 when he tripped while delivering mail. He was assigned to limited duties that included stuffing envelopes for the "stamps by mail" program, running errands and doing payroll for contract workers.

Eleven affidavits were presented from co-workers who said they heard others make disparaging comments toward Kruest. Managers and co-workers called him lazy and worthless and said he was faking injury, according to the records.

2006-02-03T00:10:14Z
brac srvivr  
#6 Posted : Monday, February 6, 2006 6:33:28 PM(UTC)

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Why are the ratepayers/taxpayers footing the bill for this? Seems to me it is about time for the managers to start being held PERSONALLY liable for this kind of environment? Seems that we'd still be suffering with sexual harassment or racial bias problems except for the huge awards plantiffs have received over the past years. Maybe its time for a hostile workplace to join the ranks of the big for awards.
I have seen situations similar to this where the job environment demanded loyalty to the boss for the advancement of his career and his manager demanded absolute loyalty for the advancement of his career.
Am glad its nearly over.
peaches  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, February 7, 2006 3:48:42 AM(UTC)

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re: "Why are the ratepayers/taxpayers footing the bill for this?"

Taxpayers are not, since the Postal Reorganization and postage prices are not a tax. Just a technicality, I know, but read on...

"Seems to me it is about time for the managers to start being held PERSONALLY liable for this kind of environment?"

AGREED!

"Seems that we'd still be suffering with sexual harassment or racial bias problems except for the huge awards plantiffs have received over the past years."

Here's where I have to stop you. Postal workers DO still suffer with sexual harassment and racial bias. We can't get huge awards for those like folks in private sector can. Our damages are capped and usually never pay out when we do win, which is rare, as we must go through EEO (the PO's internal version of EEOC), which is run by none other than Postal management. Talk about the hen watching the henhouse! An EEO can take many years, then the agency appeals it over and over.

"I have seen situations similar to this where the job environment demanded loyalty to the boss for the advancement of his career and his manager demanded absolute loyalty for the advancement of his career."

One of the main problems I see in the PO is that these little Postmasters have far too much authority. They're basically untrained in dealing with people; just interested in making the numbers, so they get their bonuses. Their "power" goes to their heads and they become a bunch of little Hitlers with their autocratic management styles, ruthlessly destroying lives and families. People-skills are grossly lacking. No college background is required for these positions. Some have military backgrounds, and act like drill sargeants, yelling and cursing in employee's faces.

I've seen very few exceptions and those who were never made it very far up the ladder.

"Am glad its nearly over."

Unfortunately, for the Postal workers, it is far from over. It is a known psychological fact that when one's ability to cope is overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control, their behavior changes. Thus management's all-too-frequent allegation against one who disagrees with them, tries right a wrong, etc. that they are "just another disgruntled."

They attempt to paint those workers in the most negative light before their EEO is out of the gates. They will falsely accused and discipline such an employee, order them to undergo fitness-for-duty determinations by a PO-paid psychiatrist, then label them, "poor workers, unstable, psycho, a threat, etc.", REGARDLESS of what the doctor says.

Management is trained to "build a file" on such "troublemakers." Other co-workers see this and are afraid to speak up. Management encites co-workers against one another. The employee then becomes ostracized by co-workers, further frustrating them and causing or aggravating emotional/mental problems. It is very much a hostile work environment.

It is a pattern I've seen far too often. I could go on and on. I hope this sheds some light.
Raging  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, February 7, 2006 10:07:59 AM(UTC)

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When they've taken all you had, your job, home, family
And you've nothing left to lose; not even your dignity,
Scared and overwhelmed, no longer can you cope.
Nothing matters anymore because you've lost all hope.
Something changes then; something that never should
And you do the kind of things you thought you never would.
lottayears  
#9 Posted : Tuesday, February 7, 2006 11:34:04 PM(UTC)

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I would gladly pay double for the price of a stamp if it meant that the money was used to ensure that postal managers were professionals--educated & trained to lead, not drive, taught to be "people persons", and were forced to stop the abuse or get out. This story made me cry--I could feel the desparation in that poor man's life. No one should have to spend their work day being threatened by "school yard bullies". I think we all realize that "there but by the grace of God, go I."
nightclerk  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, February 8, 2006 12:03:40 AM(UTC)

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Same old thing - peaches defending the crazies. It is managements fault. They should screen these wackos out before they are hired.
peaches  
#11 Posted : Wednesday, February 8, 2006 4:13:49 AM(UTC)

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Nightclerk, you need to wake up. This is the twenty-first century and we don't ascribe to the archaic myth that everyone with emotional/mental problems is crazy or dangerous. What do you suggest? Everyone with who's not exactly like you should be kept in a closet? How do you know you're not crazy? Did someone tell you? And how do you know they aren't crazy? What is sanity, anyway? You are as susceptible as the next person if enough pressure were on you. You don't know how you'd react. We're talking about 2 people, neither of whom had these type problems before they were hired.
peaches  
#12 Posted : Thursday, February 9, 2006 3:55:55 AM(UTC)

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Neither the shooter in CA or the suicide case above were people with histories of mental/emotional problems before they were hired. What does that tell you?
eagle918  
#13 Posted : Thursday, February 9, 2006 4:45:25 AM(UTC)

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Peaches- It tells me that something in their lives or a combination of things caused them to act out their frustrations in a horribly twisted manner. Who knows exactly what the catalyst was? Placing blame on the supervisor is an over-simplistic analysis. After all, not all the employees under the same supervisor reacted in the same way.
jeanne866  
#14 Posted : Thursday, February 9, 2006 5:14:48 AM(UTC)

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The majority of those killed were female nonsupervisory employees; i.e., they likely were former coworkers of the individual who did the shooting. One male supervisor also was killed.

I don't know if anyone will ever know what motivated her. It's not like anyone can ask her at this point.

What little info I have seen on the matter suggested that she retired on disability because of "psychological problems". She does not appear to have been a long term Postal employee. You can qualify for a disability retirement under FERS with as little as 18 months of service.

The impression I got is that she worked for the Post Office for about two years. I don't know if she did or did not have a history of psychological problems before beginning her Postal employment. These days most job applications do not routinely ask for that kind of information. She may have had a physical examination before beginning her job. But, if she denied any psyche history either on her medical history form or in response to a specific question, would an examining physician have had any reason to investigate further? Probably not, unless her behavior in during the exam was "bizarre".

None of the news articles that I read discussed her work or life history before she began working at the Post Office. I wouldn't assume that she had no prior psychological history. I don't think that we really know one way or the other. Given that the incident is rapidly becoming "yesterday's news", we may never know.
peaches  
#15 Posted : Thursday, February 9, 2006 7:43:06 AM(UTC)

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Look back at my posts. I never said her supervisor was to blame. I spoke in general terms about what happens in many cases. Then I posted parts of articles gathered from the news. As I said in my first post, I don't know the details.

Far as my "What does that tell you?" remark, it was a response to Nightclerk's, "They should screen these wackos out before they are hired."
peaches  
#16 Posted : Thursday, February 9, 2006 7:51:47 AM(UTC)

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"You can qualify for a disability retirement under FERS with as little as 18 months of service."

Right.

I could be mistaken, but I thought I'd read she'd worked there 6 years.

Regardless, if you talk to new hires at the PO, they're gung-**. When you talk to retirees, with many years, you'll notice a whole different perspective. So many go out with feelings of bitterness, that its worth noting.

There have been many other Postal suicides, many who's deaths were determined by the courts, to be the fault of the PO. It is not easy to prove such without the person there to speak for themselves. Even when you have a claimant present, winning a stress-related claim is very difficult. The evidence must be very strong, not just a note left behind and two or three people's word. There must be proof of management error/abuse and that doesn't include any innocent mistakes. In fact, to win these one must prove an unbroken chain of events leading up to the suicide. So, if someone commits suicide, but they were also having financial problems, marital, etc., it becomes much more difficult.

The PO will allege it was the home-problems that caused the work-problems.
DDEATH  
#17 Posted : Saturday, February 11, 2006 5:24:29 AM(UTC)

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Peaches is still blaming USPS managers when these mental cases explode. This latest one hadn't even worked for the PO for the last two years, but I'm sure Peaches will find some way to blame the USPS.

Most young workers in all businesses are "gung **", while retirees in those same businesses tend to be more pessimistic.

Of course who am I to say? My experience in the post office only allowed me to come in contact with and talk to a couple thousand employees; while Peaches experience has been with tens of thousands (?).
peaches  
#18 Posted : Tuesday, February 14, 2006 2:05:37 AM(UTC)

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Often, they do push people right over the edge.

We already know your number, Dr Death. You got your brain-washing centuries ago. Now your mind is like concrete...thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

I'd like to see your reaction if your family member came home saying they were depressed or on an anti-depressant. You'd probably want them bound, gagged, and hidden away in the attic.
tracyusps  
#19 Posted : Friday, March 3, 2006 6:14:03 AM(UTC)

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Peaches, I do not know where you got your wrongful information regarding the Edmond PO shootings, in regards to the shooter, none is correct.
superdave  
#20 Posted : Saturday, March 4, 2006 3:11:27 AM(UTC)

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Was thanked: 2 time(s) in 2 post(s)
to remove a name from the main page that wants to make me ****.
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