News and Update

 

Explanations for denied EEO training
don't add up

 

CASE FILE: Sanchez v. Department of Justice,
Federal Bureau of Prisons
,
112 LRP 52728 (EEOC OFO 10/12/12).

 

Ruling: The complainant was subjected to
reprisal for her prior EEO activity when her request to attend a three-day EEO
training session was denied without a credible explanation.

 

What it means: Once a complainant establishes a prima
facie case of retaliation, inconsistent explanations for the agency's decision
can lead to a finding of discrimination.

 

Summary: The complainant, a medical records technician at a federal correctional institution, alleged that she was subjected to retaliation for her prior EEO activity when she was not allowed to attend a three-day EEO training session as a member of the agency's Affirmative Action Committee. The agency found no discrimination. The EEOC reversed on appeal. It noted that the complainant had been involved in several EEO matters, including a complaint of her own, a class action, and her boyfriend's complaint. The warden stated that he denied the complainant's request to attend the training because she was too far behind in her work. However, the record established that this explanation lacked credibility.

 

The warden indicated that he checked with the complainant's supervisor and she was 11 weeks behind in her medical file copying and filing. In contrast, the associate warden also claimed to have consulted with the supervisor and described the complainant as 10 months behind in her work. The complainant's supervisor reported that in his one conversation with "his supervisor," he had only indicated that the medical records were not caught up, but no more.

 

The inconsistent statements, combined with emails to the complainant from management indicating that she had been doing a "great job" on the backlog, established that the agency's explanation was pretext for retaliation.

 

As a partial remedy, the EEOC directed the agency to send the complainant to the next EEO training.

House backs unpaid leave for senior execs under investigation

  • A proposal to allow federal agencies to place senior civil servants accused of wrongdoing on unpaid leave cleared the House Wednesday by a 402-2 vote.

The Government Employee Accountability Act would allow agencies to
put Senior Executive Service employees on unpaid administrative leave
for up to 180 days if they are accused of misappropriation of funds or
other job-related misconduct.

 

The bill -- sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa. -- stemmed from the
General Services Administration’s notoriously lavish Las Vegas
conference in 2010.

 

Jeff Neely, the GSA senior executive who planned the conference, was put on paid leave while under investigation. He has since left the agency. The legislation includes a provision to offer back pay to an executive found innocent of misconduct.

 

“The Government Employee Accountability Act gives agency heads more choices when handling cases of misconduct among SES employees,” Kelly said in a statement, “and gives the American people the reassurance that when serious and flagrant abuses occur, there will be accountability and more options will be on table.”

 

Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Doris Matsui, D-Calif., voted against the bill

 

Congress approves federal whistleblower protections

 

 

 

It’s been a long time coming, but Congress has finally approved legislation to strengthen protections for federal whistleblowers.

 



With the Senate's bipartisan voice vote Tuesday, the measure, which advocates have been pushing for more than a decade,
goes to President Obama for his signature. The legislation is designed to protect employees who expose government wrongdoing against retaliation by supervisors.

 

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which will
enforce the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (
WPEA), praised the Senate’s action. In a statement, OSC said the legislation will:

 

●“Overturn court decisions that narrowed
protections for government whistleblowers.”

●“Give whistleblower protections to
employees who are not currently covered, including Transportation Security Administration officers.”

●“Restore the Office of Special Counsel’s
ability to seek disciplinary actions against supervisors who
retaliate.”

●“Hold agencies accountable for retaliatory
investigations.”
Whistleblower advocates hailed congressional
approval of the legislation.

 



“The WPEA closes many loopholes and upgrades
protections for federal workers who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, abuse and illegality,” said Angela Canterbury, director of public policy for the
Project On Government Oversight.

 



“We cannot thank longtime whistleblower and
federal worker champion Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) enough for his tireless efforts. He is retiring after many years of service and the WPEA certainly will be remembered as one of his most admirable legacies.”
Akaka said it is important to “protect public servant whistleblowers who risk their careers to disclose waste, fraud and abuse. They make the federal government more effective and save taxpayers money.”With the Senate’s action, “free speech rights for government employees never have been stronger,” said Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project. But Devine added that the legislation is not all that advocates wanted.

 

 “It would be dishonest to say our work is
done, however, or to deny that government whistleblower rights are still second class compared to those in the private sector,” he said. “House Republicans blocked two cornerstones of the legislation: jury trials to enforce newly-enacted protections, and extension of free speech rights to national security workers making disclosures within agency channels.”

 

After Congress did not include whistleblower protections for national security and intelligence employees, Obama issued a Presidential Policy Directive prohibiting retaliation against them for exposing waste, fraud and abuse.



Contractor pay

A coalition of labor and public interest
organizations is using the possibility of steep federal budget cuts to urge Congress to lower the cap on compensation for federal contractors working for non-defense agencies.



The coalition’s Nov. 13 letter to Capitol Hill is similar to one
sent last month regarding Pentagon contractors. In the current letter to the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House Appropriations subcommittees on financial services and general government, the organizations said “with budget cuts and sequestration looming, it is fiscally irresponsible to allow
private contractors to charge escalating and exorbitant rates to the government.”

 

 

AFGE Activists Protest in Front of Justice Department,

Demand an End to Retaliation at BOP:

AFGE members and activists marched to the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. this week to call on Attorney General Eric Holder and Congress to hold Bureau of Prisons leadership accountable for failure to make changes to the climate of retaliation and discrimination that is running rampant in the federal prison system. A damaging EEOC report exposing retaliation and discrimination in the BOP was released in November 2010 and to date, the agency has yet to enforce numerous remedies recommended in the report from the investigation.

 

"Not only do correctional workers face life threatening situations on a daily basis, but they are facing retaliation from managers should if they choose to file an EEO complaint in the system. BOP management has done the bare minimum to address this issue and we’re calling on Congress and Attorney General Holder to hold them accountable for their lack of real action," said National Fair Practices Coordinator for the AFGE Council of Prison Locals Michael Castelle, Sr.

 

"We are urging Congress and Attorney General Holder to take action and demand accountability of BOP management for their cavalier attitude toward the well-being of their employees," said AFGE President John Gage.

 



Watch the rally on Federal Times' website or check out the rally photos here.

 

 



How to Contact Us:

Council Prison Locals 33 North Central Region 



Kenneth Juhasz,

NCR Vice President

(419) 944-8002

 

Chris Campbell

North Central

Legislative Coordinator

(507) 363-8973

 

Sandy Parr

North Central Regional

Fair Practice Coordinator

(507) 254-1029

 

Chris Janssen

Fair Practices Coordinator

(720) 224-8431

 

Congratulations to Dave Gardner and the Local 720 E-Board on their Sick Leave Abuse Letter arbitration victory!

Click to view Sick Leave Arbitration PDF File.

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