FSGB: Requests For Discovery Fail For Imposition of “Undue Burden on the Department”

 

Via FSGB Case No. 2021-015/November 22, 2021-Order Motion to Compel
Grievant is an untenured FP‐04 consular coned officer. She has been reviewed for tenure by two Commissioning and Tenure Boards (“CTB”), the second of which recommended her for tenure; that recommendation was suspended while the Department investigated the events giving rise to this grievance.
Her grievance concerns a disciplinary proposal arising from events that took place when she was performing passport and citizenship services at a post abroad in July 2017. The Department has proposed a 4‐day suspension for charges of Misuse of Position, with three specifications, resulting from her action in sending, or attempting to send, a photo of a naked baby contained in a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (“CRBA”) file to her mother and sister, and two specifications of Poor Judgment; one for orally discussing said baby’s genitals with consular staff and a second for asking parents of CRBA applicants for photographs of her with their babies
Grievant admits the facts underlying the proposed discipline, although she alleges that she was harmed by bias and lack of counseling on the part of her supervisor and has expressed remorse for the poor judgment displayed in these instances.
However, she alleges that the penalties are disproportionate and unfairly harsh because they will effectively end her career. She argues that, unlike the individuals in the comparator cases, she is an untenured officer, and that having a suspension letter in her performance file for two years, three years into her limited career appointment, eliminates any chance of a renewed recommendation for tenure despite otherwise exemplary performance and the strong recommendations of her raters and reviewers. She further contends that because she is on a five year Limited Career Appointment as an untenured officer, undue delay in the investigation and disciplinary process, in particular a two-year gap between the completion of the investigation of the complaint by Diplomatic Security and the proposal for discipline, has harmed her by precluding any future board from considering her file absent the suspension letter.
Grievant filed a Motion to Compel on August 16, 2021, seeking full Department response to two requests for production of documents.
[…]
Additional details from ROP:

We set out below the two requests in dispute together with the respective positions of the parties.

a. Discovery Request 3: Without revealing any information protected by the Privacy Act, please provide the following information:

a. In the last ten years, how many untenured career candidates have been proposed for any action between an admonishment and a five day suspension?

b. Of those employees, how many actions were sustained as admonishments, how many as reprimands, and how many as suspensions?

c. Of those that received reprimands and suspensions, how many were deferred and/or denied tenure at least once?

d. Of those that received reprimands or suspensions, how many were actually recommended for tenure with the decision letter in their files?

e. Of those that received reprimands and suspensions, how many failed to achieve tenure?

b. Discovery Request 4: Without revealing any information protected by the Privacy Act, please provide redacted copies of Department proposal letters, decision letters and Douglas factor checklists for those cases of untenured career candidates proposed for disciplinary action up to and including five days’ suspension, within the last ten years referred to in request 3 above.
[…]

This Board has in the past denied requests for discovery that require extensive research and analysis of the files of unrelated individuals in pursuit of a statistical or other correlation.

See FSGB Case No. 2014-026 (Order dated April 26, 2015). Grievant’s argument that the Department, because it reports denial of tenure and disciplinary statistics separately to AFSA, must also keep records of the relationship between disciplinary proposals and tenure, both
statistically and with respect to each individual affected, or alternatively that the information she requests should be readily available, is largely speculative and unsupported by preponderant evidence. We therefore find that, taken together, the resources required to respond to these two requests outweigh the likely materiality of the information produced. Grievant’s Motion to Compel is denied.

 

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FSGB: Selection Boards Cannot Rely Almost Exclusively on Discipline Letters For Low-Ranking

 

Via FSGB Case No. 2021-019 | September 28, 2021
Held – Grievant proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the 2020 Foreign Service Selection Board (“FSSB”) committed procedural error in low-ranking him.
Case Summary – Grievant argued that the 2020 FSSB effectively relied only on a discipline letter in his Official Performance Folder (“OPF”) when deciding to identify him for low-ranking, a violation of its Procedural Precepts. While the FSSB also referenced a Developmental Area (“DA”) from his 2018 Employee Evaluation Report (“EER”), grievant argued the FSSB misinterpreted the DA. Moreover, he maintained, the FSSB was required to substantiate the discipline letter and the DA with examples from his evaluations, which it did not do. Grievant argued that the FSSB cannot low-rank him for failing to demonstrate growth without citing examples from his evaluations for the last five years to substantiate its finding, which it failed to do. Grievant asked that the low ranking be rescinded and he be mid-ranked.
The Department of State (“Department”) noted that the discipline letter was correctly included in grievant’s OPF and therefore was appropriately available for review by the FSSB. The FSSB clearly stated in its low-ranking statement (“LRS”) that it had reviewed the past five years of grievant’s evaluations as required by its Procedural Precepts. The FSSB properly linked grievant’s conduct as discussed in the discipline letter to performance standards, skills, and competencies. The FSSB referred to both the discipline letter and the 2018 EER, meeting the standard for specific references established in the FSSB Procedural Precepts. The expectation of professional growth is implicit in the appraisal process and does not require a separate definition. Grievant also failed to place a rebuttal letter into his file although given the opportunity to do so.
The Foreign Service Grievance Board (the “Board”) found that the LRS relied inappropriately on the discipline letter, without the supporting examples from evaluations which are required by its Procedural Precepts. The LRS made a passing reference to the 2018 DA that came from the same rating period as the discipline letter and was not substantiated by examples from relevant EERs as required by the FSSB Procedural Precepts. The LRS inappropriately faulted grievant for failing to demonstrate growth in two specific areas without citing evidence from his OPF. Grievant’s decision not to submit a rebuttal to the discipline letter is irrelevant.
The Board granted the grievance and ordered the Department to rescind the low-ranking and amend grievant’s record to show mid-ranking.
Details:

REDACTED(“grievant”) is an FO-01 Economic Officer employed by the Department of State (the “Department” or the “Agency”) since 1998. He has served at numerous foreign and domestic posts, and by 2018 had earned three Meritorious Service Awards across his 20-year career.

On May 31, 2017, grievant was assigned as Deputy Chief of Mission (“DCM”) to the U.S.Embassy REDACTED (the “post” or the “country”). Upon his arrival grievant became the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim (“CDA”) of the U.S. Embassy at post, and served in that capacity until January 27, 2018 when a new ambassador arrived. During the time grievant was CDA, he appointed his Management Officer (“MO”) as his Acting Deputy Chief of Mission (“ADCM”) upon her arrival at post in August 2017.

Between September 2017 and January 27, 2018 grievant made a series of inappropriate comments and gestures directed at the MO and an office management specialist (“OMS”), persisting even after being advised he was making others uncomfortable. On April 5, 2019, the Department proposed discipline of a seven-day suspension without pay based upon a June 6, 2018 Sexual Harassment Inquiry received from the Office of Civil Rights (“S/OCR”). After receiving grievant’s written and oral submissions in response to the discipline proposal, the Department mitigated the discipline to a five-day suspension in a letter, dated April 6, 2020, which listed nine specifications of inappropriate comments. Consistent with regulation,1 this letter was placed in grievant’s OPF where it will remain until May 2022.
[…]
Grievant does not challenge the presence of the discipline letter in his OPF. However, he argues that the FSSB is barred by its Procedural Precepts from relying solely on a discipline letter in order to low rank him; that it is required to do more than just allude to reviewing the last five years of his evaluations and must instead cite specific examples from those evaluations linked to his alleged inadequacies. He further contends that the FSSB cannot low rank based on a perceived lack of growth in specific skills, absent examples drawn from his evaluations.

Grievant dismisses the Department’s argument that he could have placed a rebuttal letter in his OPF in response to the discipline letter but failed to do so. The right to submit a rebuttal, he insists, is irrelevant to the procedural error committed by the FSSB.
[…]
This Board finds that the Procedural Precepts are clear regarding the standards for taking the serious decision to low rank an employee for good reason. Affirmations cannot replace the specific examples required by the Procedural Precepts. A void in substantiating failure to perform cannot be compensated with specific examples related to positive performance.
[…]
The Board finds that the FSSB misinterpreted the DA. Grievant arrived at post in May 2017, and the OIG investigators came in October 2017. Any adverse findings by the OIG relating to the embassy’s internal management could not logically be attributed to any failing by grievant in those few months.
[…]
The Board acknowledges the gravity of grievant’s conduct and the importance of considering the discipline letter as part of the FSSB process. However, as we recently decided in FSGB Case No. 2021-002 (June 25, 2021) at 21:

The FSSB precepts also sought to protect employees from being sanctioned twice for the same misconduct by prohibiting sole reliance on discipline letters when the FSSB is making decisions about low-ranking.

By relying exclusively on the discipline letter without any substantiating examples from grievant’s evaluations for the past five years, the FSSB has committed procedural error, and has sought to penalize grievant twice for his conduct.

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FSGB: When Voluntary Curtailment Is NOT Truly Voluntary

 

This is part 1 of two parts we want to post about this specific grievance case. We want to highlight this part of the curtailment process that’s called “voluntary” because it was not a voluntary one, but a “coerced voluntary curtailment”. We have no idea who are the individuals involved in this case, of course, but we are aware of how the so called “voluntary” curtailment has been misused and far from being voluntary in other cases in the past.
The chief of mission was supposed to “ensure that rigorous standards apply to curtailment requests.” Whatever standards were applied in this case could not be called rigorous by any stretch of the imagination. Good grief, the ARSO wrote a false report! As if that was not enough, a supervisor engaged in deceitful behavior. And State basically shrugged its admirable shoulders, and said who cares?
Record of Proceedings
FSGB Case No. 2019030 | September 30, 2020
INTERIM DECISION  (CORRECTED 10/05/2020)

We find here that the procedures for curtailing grievant violated 3 FAM 2443.2. The due process provisions of the regulation were not
followed. Grievant was given an ultimatum to voluntarily curtail, or he would be involuntarily curtailed, when the Ambassador had limited information and the grievant had not been given any of the due process rights outlined in 3 FAM 2443.2 and the guideline cables provided below.
The applicable FAM, 3 FAM 2443.2 Involuntary Curtailment at Request of Chief of Mission, reads:

a. If the chief of mission determines that curtailment of an employee’s tour of duty would be in the best interests of the post [or] the employee, the chief of mission may ask that the employee’s tour of duty be curtailed immediately.

b. If the employee is an employee of the Department of State, the chief of mission should submit a request through the DIRGEN [Director General] channel to the Director General of the Foreign Service requesting curtailment of the employee. The request must:


(1) Include background information on any incidents that support the request;

(2) Confirm that the employee has been informed of the request and the reasons therefore; and

(3) Confirm that the employee has been advised that he or she may submit comments separately.


c. If the employee requests curtailment, the chief of mission should use the DIRGEN channel to:


(1) Inform the Director General of the chief of mission’s support of the employee’s request; and

(2) Explain fully the circumstances that, in the chief of mission’s judgment, justify immediate curtailment.


d. Except in cases of serious misconduct, criminal activities, or actions that have serious security implications, a chief of mission may offer the employee the alternative of submitting a request for immediate voluntary curtailment. If the employee is an employee of another agency, the request should be submitted to [their appropriate officials]. … The same supporting information required in 3 FAM 2443.2 should be used in requesting curtailment.57

According to the Decision Memo, the Ambassador invoked 16 STATE 27226, issued on March 14, 2016, Chief of Mission Instructions Regarding Conduct and Discipline Abroad, to determine that curtailment was necessary in this case. The summary describes the cable as the
first of two issued that date to provide guidance on conduct and discipline issues. The cable notes that COMs have full legal authority for the supervision of all government executive branch employees in that country.

The other memo issued on the same date, 16 STATE 27212, Curtailment of Employees Based on Conduct and Disciplinary Issues (Checklist), provides detailed procedures for handling curtailments. Among the relevant paragraphs are:

Par. 1. Curtailment may include the employee’s immediate departure from post, and can be voluntary or involuntary. As COM, you must ensure that rigorous standards apply to curtailment requests. Curtailments disrupt lives of employees and entail high professional and monetary cost from the Service in terms of lost productivity, service, and frequently, investment in training. Therefore, this authority must be used with judicious care and restraint.

Par. 2. If you, as COM, determine that curtailment of an employee’s tour of duty would be in the best interests of the post [or] the Service … you may request that the employee’s tour of duty be curtailed immediately. Per 3 FAM 2443.2, you should submit a request through the DIRGEN [Director General] channel to the Director General of the Foreign Service. The curtailment cable request must:

o include background information on any incidents that support the request;

o confirm that the employee has been informed of the request and the reasons therefor; and

o confirm that the employee has been advised that he or she may submit comments separately.

..HR strongly encourages post to share the request cable with the employee so the employee has the full report on which he/she can send comments.

Par. 3. Except in cases of serious misconduct, … you may offer the employee the option to request immediate voluntary curtailment in lieu of involuntary curtailment. If the employee requests voluntary curtailment, he/she should request immediate curtailment through the HR channel in a message addressed to his/her Career Development Officer (CDO) in HR/CDA (see para. 19 [checklist]). As COM, please ensure that you use the DIRGEN channel to confirm your support, or opposition to, the employee’s request and explain fully the circumstances that justify immediate curtailment.


Par. 13. Curtailments should first be vetted by a management team at post. …. Proper vetting throughout the process then allows the COM to be better able to determine whether to move forward with the curtailment request.


Par. 14. In all cases, the DIRGEN cable must include background information on the incident (s) that supports post’s decision. Except for cases of directed curtailment, the cable must confirm that the COM has discussed the proposed action with the employee and also confirm that he/she may submit separately, either by cable via the DIRGEN channel or email to the DG Direct e-mail address, any comments about the curtailment. HR will not approve any curtailment request that comes without supporting information.

Par. 19. D. [H]as the employee had the opportunity to discuss the situation with the DCM?


Par. 20. As applicable, the above elements should be addressed in a DIRGEN cable. The Department is committed to making the curtailment system work for the good of the Service and our employees, protecting both the authority of management and the rights of employees.

Grievant’s decision to curtail was not truly voluntary. Grievant did not initiate the curtailment. The Ambassador, according to what the RSO and HR told grievant on January 12, had decided that grievant had a choice to either curtail voluntarily or involuntarily. In doing so, he was exercising his right under 3 FAM 2443.2d to give the employee the option of taking a voluntary curtailment in lieu of an involuntary one. Given that ultimatum, the only way to prevent the potential adverse career effect was to choose “voluntary” curtailment. According to grievant, he was also given the inducement that if he chose “voluntary” curtailment, “all this,” which he could reasonably understand to mean any type of charge against him, would be withdrawn. Given the lack of denials, we credit grievant that this statement was made. Yet we know that, on January 14, before the curtailment took effect, the ROI had been closed without action by DS and referred to S/OCR. The case was not going away.

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FSGB Grievant Asks @StateDept “Which Surnames Qualified as “Hispanic Surnames” #Census #Google

 

Via Record of Proceedings
FSGB Case No. 2020053 | October 22, 2021

I. BACKGROUND
The background of this case is described in detail in the June 17, 2021, Order: Motion to Compel issued by the Foreign Service Grievance Board (“FSGB” or the “Board”). That Order required the Department to provide additional responses to grievant’s initial discovery requests including grievant’s Interrogatory #1 which sought disaggregated statistics on rates of tenure for Foreign Service Generalist career candidates with Hispanic surnames who were considered for tenure during a specified five-year period, as compared with the tenure rate for other candidates.

On July 7, 2021, the Department responded to grievant’s Interrogatory #1.

Grievant was dissatisfied with the response and on July 14, 2021, he requested clarification of how the Department determined which surnames were Hispanic. The Department responded the same day, explaining how it had determined which surnames were Hispanic.

On July 27, 2021, grievant made a follow-on discovery request, seeking a list of the surnames the Department determined to be Hispanic and a list of the surnames of the candidates who had non-Hispanic surnames and were denied tenure.

On August 25, 2021, the Department objected to grievant’s July 27, 2021 request. The parties met and conferred on grievant’s discovery request and the Department’s objection, without reaching agreement.

In a motion to compel, the burden is on the requesting party to prove the merits of the motion. FSGB Case No. 2016-027 (Order, dated October 28, 2016); FSGB Case No. 2011-013 (Order, dated September 28, 2011).

Excerpt:

B. SECOND MOTION TO COMPEL

Interrogatory #1
Interrogatory #1 states as follows:

Please provide disaggregated statistics on rates of tenure for minority Foreign Service Generalists as compared to white Foreign Service Generalists between March 9, 2014 and March 4, 2019.

Department’s Response:
On July 7, 2021, The Department provided the following data for Foreign Service Generalist Tenure Candidates reviewed from March 2014-March 2019:

Candidates with Hispanic Surnames – 108
3 denied tenure = 2.8%

105 recommended for tenure = 97.2%


Candidates with non-Hispanic Surnames – 1871

48 denied tenure = 2.6%

1823 recommended for tenure = 97.4%

Grievant asked the Department how it determined which surnames qualified as “Hispanic surnames.”

Department’s Response to Request for Clarification

The Department responded that it accessed publicly available 2010 Census data and “pulled the record of last names where more than 50% of respondents by that name identified as being Hispanic.” There were 199 Hispanic surnames on the Census list and the Department cross-referenced those names with the cumulative list of tenure candidates. The Department then looked at all of the remaining names and identified other Hispanic surnames that did not appear on the Census list. To confirm, the Department checked those names for Spanish/Hispanic origin via Google search. Lastly, the Department checked a random assortment of the remaining names on the list of tenure candidates to confirm that they were other than Hispanic.

Relevance of the Follow-On Interrogatory

In the instant case, grievant alleges that the CTB discriminated against him because of his Hispanic surnames. Grievant has not alleged that he has direct evidence, relying entirely on statistics. To establish a prima facie case based on statistics, grievant must establish that Hispanic surnamed candidates were tenured at a statistically significantly lower rate than non-Hispanic surnamed candidates. Accordingly, the surnames of the candidates who were tenured, and those who were denied tenure, clearly are relevant to grievant’s claim, just as the gender of candidates would be relevant to a claim of sex discrimination.
[…]
the Privacy Act does not prohibit disclosure of Human Resources information about comparator employees to a grievant if ordered by the Board.
[…]
The Board has determined that grievant is entitled to know what surnames are considered Hispanic for purposes of the Department’s discovery responses. At the same time, the other candidates deserve privacy regarding their tenuring decisions. To accommodate those competing interests, the Board will order the Department to respond anew to grievant’s Interrogatory #1, as set forth in Section IV, infra.

IV. ORDER

Grievant’s Second Motion to Compel is granted in part and denied in part, as follows:

1. Within 14 days of this Order, the Department shall email grievant the list of 199 Hispanic surnames the Department previously identified from the Census data.

2. Within 14 days of the Department’s email, grievant shall email the Department a list of any of the 199 surnames that grievant considers not to be Hispanic (“List A”), and a separate list of any surnames not on the list of 199 that grievant considers to be Hispanic (“List B”) and the source of the surnames. Grievant may use any source of surnames for List B, e.g., lists publicly available on the Internet. If grievant fails to email List A and List B to the Department by this deadline, grievant shall be deemed to have waived any further response to Interrogatory #1, and grievant’s discovery shall be considered complete.

3. Within 21 days of grievant’s email, the Department shall email grievant a revised response to Interrogatory #1, using the 199 surnames from the Census data after striking the surnames on List A and adding the surnames on List B, thereby creating List C. At that point grievant’s discovery shall be considered complete. The Department may not object to responding to Interrogatory #1 using List C. ….

4. The Board denies grievant’s request for the list of the surnames the Department determined to be Hispanic and a list of the surnames the Department determined to be non-Hispanic surnames and were denied tenure.

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Read more: 2020-053 – 10-22-2021 – B – Order re Second Motion to Compel_Redacted.pdf
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FSGB: Extra/Marital Drama With Three Women, Two Pregnancies, and a Reduced 12-Day Suspension

 

Via ROP/FSGB 2020-036/September 21, 2021:

Held – The Department of State (“Department”) met its burden of demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that grievant committed the misconduct with which he was charged; that the discipline proposal was timely and without procedural defect; and that the proposed penalty was reasonable and proportionate to the misconduct.

Case Summary – Grievant was serving as a Diplomatic Security (“DS”) Special Agent (“SA”) at an overseas post with his then-wife. He was engaged in extramarital affairs with two women employed at the embassy (both of whom became pregnant), failed to report these relationships, failed to report out of country travel with one of the two women, and threatened and intimidated the other woman, prompting two investigations and his voluntary curtailment from post. Two years later, while participating in a meeting concerning the medical evacuation (“medevac”) of his new wife, grievant was accused of bullying and intimidating behavior toward personnel from the Bureau of Medical Services (“MED”), prompting a third investigation. On December 8, 2017, the Department proposed a 30-day suspension without pay, on five charges with 22 specifications. On January 23, 2019, the Department sustained the proposed 30-day suspension. Grievant filed a grievance, challenging the validity of the charges and the severity of the penalty. In the agency-level grievance decision, the Department sustained four charges with 13 specifications and reduced the suspension to 12 days.

Grievant alleged that much of the conduct reflected misunderstandings. He stated that his first marriage was failing when he arrived at post and he eventually married, and remains married to, one of the two women with whom he had affairs. He contended that the investigations into his alleged misconduct were marred by the bias and unprofessional conduct of post’s Regional Security Office as well as being unduly delayed, causing him personal and professional harm. He argued that the alleged misconduct at the MED meeting resulted from mistreatment of his family by MED and should be dismissed. Grievant also alleged that the discipline was untimely, coming almost six years after the first alleged act of misconduct until the Department’s agency-level decision, an unreasonable period of time that impacted his ability to grieve a flawed process and manage his career. Grievant also argued that the Department did not meet its burden of proving the charges, appropriately weigh mitigating factors, or offer timely or proportionate discipline. Grievant argued that the charges should be dropped, or the penalty substantially reduced.

The Department responded that the complexity of the case and number of incidents leading to successive investigations, justified the time necessary to propose discipline. The agency also rebutted allegations that the discipline process was procedurally flawed, asserting that it properly assessed the charges and grievant’s misconduct, considered all mitigating factors, and levied a penalty that was both fair and proportionate.

The Foreign Service Grievance Board (“Board”) found that the Department met its burden of proving all charges and specifications. The Board found no procedural errors and concluded that the charges were not stale and the delay not prejudicial. The Board upheld the Department’s penalty determination process, including an assessment of all mitigating factors and review of appropriate comparator cases. The grievance was denied in full.

According to the ROP, the grievant was advised on January 25, 2017, “This case is still ongoing pending additional information.”8 Notwithstanding this notice, in February 2017, grievant was promoted to FS-03, still as an ARSO, retroactive to November 2016.9″
The small prints:
1 Although grievant was once tenured as a DS SA and promoted to FS-03 in that capacity, he subsequently changed careers to FSO generalist at a reduced grade of FS-04 and he remains untenured in that capacity.
9 The Department reported that grievant’s name was “temporarily removed from the rank order list of employees recommended for promotion by his 2016 FS Selection Board pending a standard vetting check …. [D]ue to his then-pending discipline cases, [he] should have been continually reported [as ineligible for promotion] in the ensuing vetting checks …. [I]t appears that [grievant’s] name was not properly reported [in early 2017] … resulting in the erroneous reinstatement of his name to the promotion list.” See Agency Amended Response to Board Request for Information, at 3-4.
ROPs available to read via FSGB.
Note: Depending on the browser you’re using, the FSGB cases may not be available to read online; each record may need to be downloaded to be accessible. With Firefox browser, however, you may select “open with Firefox” if you want to read the case file, or save the file to your computer. Please use the search button here to locate specific FSGB records.

 

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FSGB: 5-Day Suspension For Inappropriate Comments and Unprofessional Conduct “Reasonable”

 

Excerpt from ROP/FSGB Case No. 2020061-September 3, 2021
ROPs available to read via FSGB.gov:
Held – Grievant failed to meet his burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a five-day suspension for two charges (Inappropriate Comments and Unprofessional Conduct) with a total of 22 specifications was disproportionate disciplinary action and was untimely. The Board, finding 20 of 22 specifications against grievant justified, found that the proposed disciplinary action was reasonable, and denied grievant’s appeal.

Summary – Grievant served as the FP-02 Facility Manager at a post abroad from summer 2014 through summer 2017. According to a Report of Investigation (ROI) from the Department of State’s Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR), grievant allegedly harassed female employees at post by making inappropriate comments and displaying overly aggressive behavior towards them. Based on the ROI, the Bureau of Global Talent Management, Office of Employee Relations (GTM/ER) proposed a five-day suspension for grievant that the agency’s Deciding Official sustained. After grievant’s agency-level grievance challenging the five-day suspension was denied, he then appealed to the Foreign Service Grievance Board (FSGB, Board).

Grievant contested most of the specifications in both charges and contended that his (then undiagnosed) medical conditions were not taken into consideration in the agency’s assessment of his grievance. He also maintained that the disciplinary action was disproportionate to the alleged offense, the Douglas Factors were not appropriately applied, the comparator cases were misinterpreted, and the discipline was untimely.

The Board found that grievant did not prove that the Department failed to assign due weight to his previously undiagnosed medical conditions or misapplied the Douglas Factors when it decided the disciplinary action. The Board also found the proposal to discipline the grievant timely, as it was proposed seven months after GTM/ER received the S/OCR investigation results. The Board dismissed two specifications of Inappropriate Comments and sustained 20 specifications in the two charges against grievant. In view of the far greater number of specifications in the two charges against grievant when compared to the number of specifications in the charges against the employees in comparator cases, the Board found the five-day suspension well within the zone of reasonableness. The Board denied the grievance, finding that a reduction in penalty was not justified in view of the inordinate number of sustained specifications.
II. BACKGROUND
REDACTED (grievant) was serving as the FP-02 Facility Manager at the U.S. Embassy REDACTED  (Embassy) from summer 2014 through summer 2017. His responsibilities included maintenance, supervision of construction, and renovation of projects at the Embassy and six constituent consulates in the host country.
Grievant directly supervised four employees and had oversight for nearly two dozen skilled tradesmen, custodians,and gardeners. He managed an annual budget of over $4 million and was responsible for over $290 million in U.S. Government assets. Grievant stated that he lost annual leave due to a “crushing” workload that placed his section under constant stress not only to comply with regulatory mandates, but also to manage end-of-year funds. He attested that from years 2015 to 2016 he gained 45 pounds and suffered from insomnia, and then during consultation and training leave in July 2017, at a visit to his personal physician, he initially was diagnosed with autoimmune disease. Follow-up appointments in August 2017 revealed a diagnosis of type 1.5 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol issues.
Grievant attributed his behavior in the office (irritability, mood swings) and his medical conditions to work-related stress and stated that he has had no other incidents of unprofessional conduct with colleagues since treatment of his medical conditions.
The Department’s Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) received in 2017 reports of grievant’s alleged sexual harassment, consisting of inappropriate comments and confrontational behavior directed at female colleagues. Consequently, S/OCR initiated an investigation. The Bureau of Global Talent Management,2 Office of Employee Relations (GTM/ER) received S/OCR’s Report of Investigation (ROI) on July 5, 2017, which included complaints about grievant’s alleged harassment of five female staff members in the form of loud bullying, demeaning comments, invasion of their personal space, and complaints about them to third parties. Reportedly, grievant was prone to storming out of meetings when colleagues’ views were not aligned with his own.
Charge l: Inappropriate Comments

3 FAM 4314 Grounds for Disciplinary Action (in relevant part)
(10) Any misconduct that does not promote the efficiency of the Service during or outside of established work hours.

Specification 1: Within the first six months of arriving at post in August 2014, you  came to the FMC
3 Office, and loudly shouted at the employees, “Where’s so and so,” and “Who’s working here,” in an angry and intimidating manner.

Specification 2: In a meeting in or about December 2014, you called her supervisor, , “a bully,” “a scumbag” and “scum of the earth.”


Specification 3: In a meeting in or about December 2014, you called FMO “incompetent” and “a bully.”


Specification 4: In April or May 2016, you advised , “Don’t go to an EEO Counselor if you have a problem.”


Specification 5: You stated within earshot that “Someone is poisoning the atmosphere here,” which she and at least one other witness believed referred to her.

Specification 6: When asked you a question about the condition of a ceiling, you shouted at her, “OH! I can’t talk about this now!! GET OUT of my office.”

Specification 7: In May 2016, you directed to “shut up and sit down” during a project meeting.


Specification 8: In April or May 2016, in front of colleagues at a section meeting, you commented “You have not shown me your skills.”


Specification 9: On more than one occasion, you disparaged the skills of architects and interior designers , even though you were aware that her background is in those fields.


Specification 10: On or about August 10, 2016, you belittled in a meeting with the DCM Deputy Chief of Mission [DCM] by stating that she was only a project manager by title and her title didn’t mean anything.


Specification 11: In a meeting in your office on or about August 12, 2016, you became red in the face and shouted at and FCS employee that you “could not handle the conversation” after they remarked that the ceiling was not in an acceptable state.

Specification 12: On or about June 17, 2017, you commented that glasses were “glasses feminists wear,” implying that you did not like them.


Specification 13: In a March or April 2016 section meeting, you stated to , in front of colleagues, “What did you do to your hair? You look like [expletive]! Your hair really looks like [expletive]!”


Specification 14: In October 2016, you asked who she voted for in the U.S. election. When she would not answer the question, you stated, “Well if you voted for Hillary, you have no morals or ethics.”


Specification 15: In mid-February 2017, you made a comment that after the election, “the pendulum is moving back” and that feelings are not going to be validated in the workplace anymore.


Specification 16: On or about January 24, 2017, throughout a conference call with [the Consul General (CG)], you muted the call to tell how much you hate [the CG] and that he is a “piece of [expletive].”

Specification 17: During a large meeting with management staff with then-Office Director , you stated, “Marriage is a good thing for you. You look so much nicer.”


Specification 18: In March or April 2016, you made an inappropriate comment to [B], whose husband was recovering from a medical issue, pointing at her aggressively and shouting, “You’re not taking care of your family.”

Charge 2: Unprofessional Conduct

Specification 1-4

ii. Alternative Solutions

The Department rejects grievant’s assertion that he has no need for disciplinary action. It points to the multiple times he was counseled on his behavior and notes that he did not modify his behavior even after he was advised to change how he interacted with people. The agency also refers to grievant’s 2017 Employee Evaluation Report (EER) that highlights his interpersonal skills in dealing with staff as an area for improvement (AFI). Therefore, the Department concluded that a lesser penalty such as a letter of reprimand would not likely have a deterrent effect on grievant.

Note: Depending on the browser you’re using, the FSGB cases may not be available to read online; each record may need to be downloaded to be accessible. With Firefox browser, however, you may select “open with Firefox” if you want to read the case file, or save the file to your computer. Please use the search button here to locate specific FSGB records.

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FSGB: A Separation For Cause Case That Will Make You Weep

The FSGB Annual Report for 2020 includes a brief summary of a separation for cause case:
“In FSGB Case No. 2019-034, the Board found that the agency did not establish cause to separate the charged employee from the Foreign Service because the Deciding Official did not consider evidence of personality problems or more serious mental issues as a mitigating circumstance in determining whether separation was appropriate, as required by the Douglas Factors.2 The employee in the case was charged with improper personal conduct with a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct toward colleagues. The agency’s Bureau of Medical Services determined that the charged employee exhibited behavior or symptoms that impaired his reliability, judgment, or trustworthiness which was reported to management in a report of security investigation. The Deciding Official did not take into consideration those findings when proposing separation. The agency filed a motion for reconsideration which was ultimately denied. The Board suggested that the Department consider whether the charged employee was eligible for disability retirement.”
Excerpts below from the Record of Proceeding (ROP) posted via FSGB (multiple files related to this case).
FSGB Case No. 2019-034/July 2, 2020:

Held – The Board found that the Department of State (the “Department” or “agency”) did not establish cause to separate the charged employee from the Foreign Service because the Deciding Official (“DO”) did not consider evidence of his personality problems as a mitigating circumstance. The Board was persuaded by evidence in the record that the agency should exercise its authority to initiate, as an alternative to separation, the option of a disability retirement, pursuant to 3 FAM 6164.3(a).

Case Summary – The Department charged the employee with Improper Personal Conduct based upon a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct toward colleagues, primarily hundreds of unwanted emails and text messages with sexual content. The Department’s Bureau of Medical Services (“MED”) had conducted a mental health evaluation of the charged employee and concluded that “to a reasonable degree of certainty,” the charged employee exhibited “behavior or symptoms (which may not rise to the level of formal diagnosis) of an emotional, mental or personality condition that may impair his reliability, judgment or trustworthiness.”

The DO determined that the charged employee committed the charged offenses and that there were no mitigating circumstances. In finding no mitigating circumstances, the DO attested in the separation hearing that she did not take into consideration either the charged employee’s emotional, mental or personality condition that MED identified or the charged employee’s emails to coworkers that included references to his communications with divine beings as well as references to his own possible mental illness. The DO notified the charged employee of her proposal to separate him from the Foreign Service and provided him the opportunity to reply in person or in writing. The DO recommended separating the charged employee to promote the efficiency of the Service. The charged employee did not respond in person or in writing to the DO’s notification of her proposal to separate him from the Service recommendation or participate in the separation hearing.

The Board found the Department did not establish cause to separate the charged employee because the DO did not consider the so-called Douglas Factor #11 on the agency’s checklist that relates to mitigating circumstances surrounding personality problems, and did not exercise the agency’s authority under 3 FAM 6164.3(a) to initiate a disability retirement on behalf of the charged employee as an alternative to disciplinary action.

Background via FSGB Case No. 2019-034R/September 24, 2020

Prior to the conduct that gave rise to the Department’s proposal to separate the charged  employee, he had 19 years of distinguished service.

In March 2015, the Department issued a Letter of Reprimand to the charged employee on  a charge of Improper Personal Conduct (“IPC”) for allegedly making “unwelcome comments of an inappropriate and sexual nature” to an intern at post. In January 2016, the charged employee was alleged to have engaged in sexual harassment. The Ambassador involuntarily curtailed the charged employee from an overseas post in February 2016. After his curtailment, the charged employee sent numerous personal emails to a former post colleague that she foundoffensive. Despite her request that he stop sending her messages, he continued to do so. Consequently, the former colleague filed a request for a protective order with a court and the request was granted.

The FSGB filing does not indicate what treatment resulted from MED’s evaluation.

— In January 2018, the DS Office REDACTED issued another ROI (involving different preliminary allegations), finding, inter alia, that the charged employee had demonstrated a predilection for self-aggrandizement, and had indicated his belief of hearing voices and instructions from God, the Devil, and the Virgin Mary.

— In October 2018, the charged employee’s security clearance was revoked.

— On March 21, 2019, the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of the Bureau of Human Resources3 (the “DG”) notified the charged employee that the Department proposed to separate him for cause to promote the efficiency of the Service. The charged employee was charged with IPC based upon 87 specifications of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct and comments toward colleagues, primarily in emails and text messages with sexual content. The separation proposal was not based upon the charged employee’s loss of security clearance.

— Although the charged employee was offered an opportunity to provide an oral or written response to the DG’s March 21, 2019 proposal, he did not provide a response.

(Also see Secretary Mike Pompeo Swears-In New DGHR Carol Perez on March 15, 2019)

On June 20, 2019, the DG completed the so-called Douglas Factors Checklist, a compilation of aggravating and mitigating factors drawn from 3 FAM 4137 and from the decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board (the “MSPB”) in Douglas v. Veterans Administration, 5 MSPB 313 (1981). On that Checklist, the DG wrote “none” next to so-called Douglas Factor #11, “Mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense, such as unusual job tensions, personality problems . . . .”

(Also see  Snapshot: Douglas Factors)
(Also see 3 FAM 4138)

On August 18, 2019, the Department filed a Separation for Cause Proposal with the Board. The charged employee did not file a response to the proposal or participate in the hearing that the Board conducted by telephone on May 14, 2020. AFSA participated as amicus curiae.

The Board issued its Decision on July 2, 2020, finding that the Department had established by a preponderance of the evidence that the charged employee had engaged in the unprofessional and inappropriate conduct of which he was accused and that the charged employee’s conduct had a nexus to the efficiency of the Service. However, the Decision concluded that the Department had not established cause for separation of the charged employee when the DG did not comply with 3 FAM 4138 because she did not consider the Department’s version of Douglas Factor #11:

 Mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense, such as unusual job tensions, personality problems, harassment or bad faith, malice or provocation on the part of other(s) involved in the matter.

The Decision noted that the DG had written the word “none” next to Factor #11, yet in her testimony at the May 14, 2020 hearing, she opined that the charged employee “had abnormal behavior,” and that it was obvious “his behavior was not normal.”

[…]

In the instant case, the Department failed to establish cause for separation by a preponderance of the evidence because the Deciding Official (in this case the DG) had failed to consider a significant relevant factor, i.e., Douglas Factor #11 as embodied in the Department’s Douglas Factors Worksheet, which the Department applies in determining whether to propose separation of an employee or a disciplinary penalty.10
In a separate FSGB document: 2019-034 – 07-02-2020:

In her testimony at the May 14, 2020 hearing, however, when asked whether concerns were raised in her mind in relation to the DS decision to revoke the charged employee’s security clearance due to several factors, including psychological conditions, the DG opined that the charged employee “had abnormal behavior,” and that it was obvious “his behavior was not normal.” The DG added, however, that she did not consider personality problems as a mitigating circumstance for the charged employee because she is not a medical professional, thus not in a position to understand if he had a personality defect for “his entire life.” She pointed out that DS ROI #2 indicated that there were allegations that the charged employee had a recurring pattern of sexual harassment, beginning during his college years, but she had no evidence of that conduct in the record to consider. The DG emphasized that in cases of threats to employees in the workforce, it is DS that makes decisions about what they would like to do in terms of an employee’s ability to access agency facilities and information. She also stressed that she had no access to the Department’s Bureau of Medical Services (“MED”) Memorandum of Opinion concerning the charged employee to which DS referred in ROI

Diplomatic Security’s two Reports of Investigation (ROIs)

The Board found that two Reports of Investigation (“ROIs”) issued by the Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (“DS”) contained sufficient information for the DG to deduce that the charged employee had, at least, personality problems and that the emails and text messages the charged employee sent to former colleagues, which formed the basis of the separation proposal, indicated that he had personality problems and possibly more serious mental impairment or illness. The Decision noted that Douglas Factor #11 required the DG to consider and weigh the charged employee’s apparent personality problems in determining the appropriate discipline.

The DG’s failure to consider personality problems as a mitigating factor was the basis for our conclusion that the Department had not established cause for separation.

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FSGB: Salary Determination Per SOP 134D1? What’s that?

 

Via FSGB Case No. 2019-049:
Held – Grievant failed to establish by a preponderance of evidence that the Department of State (“Department” or “agency”) committed a grievable error in its initial determination, or its resolution of, the appeal of grievant’s salary determination. However, grievant did establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the Department erred in not following its own standard operating procedure (“SOP”) regarding the provision of notice of the right to appeal the salary determination and affording her sufficient time to prepare an appeal. The Board ordered the Department to permit grievant to submit supplemental appeal materials to a new Salary Review Committee (“SRC”).
Case Summary – Grievant became a Foreign Service generalist career candidate in 2018. She contended that in determining her starting salary for that position, the Department Office of the Registrar violated published policy and acted arbitrarily and capriciously by declining to credit a number of theatrical stage management jobs she had held as qualifying experience that would have resulted in a higher starting salary. Believing that she had less than 12 hours to appeal, grievant quickly submitted arguments to the SRC for reconsideration of the salary determination, but that body confirmed the starting salary offered by the Office of the Registrar.
Grievant accepted the position, but several months after her start date, she grieved the starting salary. She contended in her grievance that the SRC was unfamiliar with the primarily intellectual nature of stage management jobs and, therefore, wrongly concluded that some, but not all, of her stage management positions did not constitute qualifying experience. She further contended that both the Office of the Registrar and the SRC miscalculated the duration of one or more of the jobs that they found were qualifying, by interpreting her month/year description of these short-term positions as lasting to the beginning of the ending month, rather than through the entire last month. Grievant further contended that she was never given the necessary information about appeal procedures from the decision of the Office of the Registrar. She claims that, in violation of Department SOPs, she was given only a few hours, rather than the required 30 days to prepare and submit her appeal.
The Board concluded that grievant failed to establish by preponderant evidence that either the Office of the Registrar or the SRC had violated published policy or acted arbitrarily or capriciously in determining her starting salary. The Board found, however, that the Department erred by deviating from its SOPs that mandated the provision of 30-days’ notice to career candidates about the appeal procedure from decisions of the Office of the Registrar, which caused grievant to submit a rushed appeal to the SRC. The Board further concluded that the error may have been a substantial factor in the SRC’s decision to confirm her starting salary. The Board, therefore, denied the grievance in part and upheld it in part. As a remedy, the Board ordered the Department to permit grievant to submit supplemental appeal materials to a new SRC within 30 days.
[…]
The September 21 email, containing the salary offer, but none of the other information described in SOP 134D1, and the subsequent email correspondence (which informed the candidate only that “your file is marked to be reviewed”), clearly did not meet the requirements laid out in SOP 134D1. The October 4 email, containing the appointment letter, meets the requirements of the SOP, without explicitly referring to SOP 134D1. This was apparently meant to be the beginning of the review and appeal process, not the end. By not clearly distinguishing for grievant the difference between an informal preview/review process in the Registrar’s Office and the 30-day deadline for a formal appeal to the SRC, the Department committed a procedural error that generated unnecessary fog in an already rushed process. We conclude that grievant was denied a clear and meaningful opportunity to present clarifying information to the SRC. In addition, we conclude that she has established that the procedural error may have been a substantial factor in the action of the SRC. We note that she does not have to prove that the additional material that she proffered in the grievance appeal would have caused the SRC to reconsider her salary.
In cases where the Board finds procedural error that may have been a substantial factor in an agency action, the burden of proof shifts to the agency to show, by preponderant evidence, that the agency, (the SRC in this instance), would have taken the same action had the procedural error not occurred. See C.F.R. 905.1(c). The Department has explained the reasoning of the SRC, but it has not presented a persuasive argument, supported by preponderant evidence, that the outcome would have been the same had grievant been given timely notice of her right to file an appeal to the SRC, i.e., that, had it followed its own SOP, the grievant would have submitted additional documentation and the SRC would have made the same determination with respect to each of grievant’s numerous short-term stage management positions and arrived at the same grade and step level.
The Board therefore finds that the Department has not carried its burden of proving that the SRC would have come to the same result absent the procedural error. Accordingly, the Board grants grievant’s request for a reconstituted SRC to review her initial salary determination after reviewing any additional relevant information that she would like to provide, in conformity with SOP 134 D1.
Note: Depending on the browser you’re using, the FSGB cases may not be available to read online; each record may need to be downloaded to be accessible. With Firefox browser, however, you may select “open with Firefox” if you want to read the case file, or save the file to your computer. Please use the search button here to locate specific FSGB records.

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FSGB: After 15-Day Suspension, @StateDept Wants to Separate Employee For Same Misconduct

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. Gracias — DS

 

 

Via FSGB Case No. 2021002
Held Grievant proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the 2019 Foreign Service  Selection Board (“FSSB”) committed procedural error in deciding to lowrank him and to refer  his Official Performance File (“OPF”) to a Performance Standards Board (“PSB”). The Foreign  Service Grievance Board (“Board”) rescinded the low ranking by the FSSB and its referral of  grievant’s file to the PSB. Accordingly, the Board rescinded the recommendation by the PSB to  separate grievant from the Foreign Service.
Case Summary Grievant argued that the 2019 FSSB gave undue consideration of a discipline  letter in his file and committed other procedural errors, in violation of its precepts, when it  determined that his performance was deficient and referred his OPF to the PSB. Grievant  contended that the PSB also violated its precepts by relying improperly on the discipline letter in reaching its decision to recommend that he be separated from the Service.

The Department of State (“Department”) posited that the FSSB properly considered grievant’s  OPF, including the discipline letter, and complied with all precepts when it assessed deficiencies  in grievant’s performance, issued a lowranking statement, and referred his OPF to the PSB. The agency also argued that the PSB also followed its precepts when it assessed grievant’s  performance failures, compared his file to those of 10 randomly selected colleagues of identical rank, and ultimately recommended that grievant be separated.


The Board held that grievant met his burden of proving that the 2019 FSSB committed procedural errors by lowranking him and referring his file to the PSB. Accordingly, the Board rescinded the lowranking and the referral as well as the subsequent PSB decision to recommend grievant for separation.

Excerpt from background of case:

REDACTED (“grievant”) is an FS01 officer who joined the Foreign Service of the Department of State (“Department,” “agency”) in 1998 and began a career with assignments primarily in Africa and Latin America. In July 2016, he was assigned as the Deputy Chief of  Mission (“DCM”) in the U.S. Embassy REDACTED (“embassy,” “post”).

On March 7, 2017, grievant does not dispute that he had multiple drinks at the embassy’s Marine House, followed by additional drinks at a local restaurant, after which, he returned on foot to his official diplomatic residence. On his way home, grievant was approached by a woman who asked if he wanted company. Grievant permitted the woman to accompany him to his residence where they continued drinking and she remained overnight. Grievant admitted that he initiated sexual contact with the woman and brought her to a bed in his guest room. There, he claims he fell asleep, but acknowledged that he did not recall all that happened. Early the next morning, the woman demanded money; grievant refused; and the woman began throwing things in the house. Grievant and the woman engaged in a physical altercation that was overheard by local embassy guards who responded to the scene. The woman was removed from the residence, taking with her grievant’s government-issued Blackberry. During her removal, the woman’s cell phone was damaged. She later returned with two local police officers and threatened to press charges against grievant. Grievant paid the woman $430 upon the advice of the Regional Security Officer (“RSO”) at post. The incident prompted grievant to be involuntarily curtailed from post in April 2017.

On June 9, 2019, Diplomatic Security (“DS”) completed a Report of Investigation (“ROT”) of the incident (“the embassy incident”), finding grounds for one specification on charges of Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct and Poor Judgment.’ During the DS investigation, grievant revealed for the first time that in 2015, he had been arrested REDACTED for driving under the influence (“DUT”). His failure to report this arrest within 72 hours, as required by 12 FAM 272, resulted in one specification of a third charge — Failure to Follow Policy.

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FSGB: “Automatism” Defense Against Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct Charge Fails

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

 

Via FSGB Case No. 2020031 February 19, 2021
HeldThe Department proved by preponderant evidence that the charged employee committed notoriously disgraceful conduct by engaging in non consensual sexual contact with a colleague in a public Embassy space; the misconduct was not caused by a neurological condition (automatism); there was a nexus between the charged misconduct and the efficiency of the Service; and that the penalty of separation is reasonable.Case
SummaryThe Department charged an unaccompanied married employee with notoriously disgraceful conduct after he went to a pool party at an overseas post, had a few alcoholic drinks, and, after some physical contact with a married colleague who was intoxicated, touched her near her genital area without her consent. The incident was videotaped by security cameras and was observed by employees who were at the pool. The Department argued that intent is not an element of the charged misconduct but should be considered as a mitigating or aggravating factor when the penalty is determined. The agency presented the testimony of an expert witness who opined that the charged employee did not suffer from an automatism at the time of the misconduct. The agency contended that the undisputed evidence proves notoriously disgraceful conduct. The Department argued that separation was the only appropriate penalty for the egregious misconduct, given a fair consideration of the mitigating and aggravating factors and a review of comparator cases.
The charged employee presented a report from an expert witness who opined that at the time of the misconduct, the employee was experiencing a neurological event, called an automatism,which prevented him from having any awareness of, or control over, his actions. The charged employee contended that he is not culpable for the charged misconduct because intent to commit the conduct is a necessary element of the charge.The employee also argued that the Deciding Official did not properly consider mitigating circumstances and the penalty was unreasonable after a review of comparator cases.
The Grievance Board considered the undisputed evidence of the incident that was recorded on the videotape and not contested by the charged employee. The Board further reviewed the testimony of the competing experts and concluded that the opinion of the charged employee’s expert witness was not sound because it was not consistent with the accounts of the witnesses, including the charged employee, and it did not derive from a persuasive differential diagnosis. The Board concluded that the charged employee’s expert witness speculated repeatedly on the possible causes for an automatism,which undermined the plausibility of his ultimate opinion. The Board further found that because intent was clearly established, the issue of whether intent is an element of the charge did not need to be decided. The Board concluded that there was a nexus between the misconduct and the efficiency of the Service because the incident was videotaped, witnessed by several employees, resulted in an almost immediate curtailment and a suspension of the charged employee’s security clearance. Lastly, the Board found that the penalty was within the zone of reasonableness after an appropriate review of mitigating factors and case comparators.
The Board finds that Department “has established by preponderant evidence that the charged employee committed the specified charge of notoriously disgraceful conduct, the misconduct was not the product of an automatism; there is a nexus between the misconduct and the efficiency of the Service; and the penalty of separation is reasonable.”
Note: Depending on the browser you’re using, the FSGB cases may not be available to read online; each record may need to be downloaded to be accessible. With Firefox browser, however, you may select “open with Firefox” if you want to read the case file, or save the file to your computer. Please use the search button here to locate specific FSGB records.

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