In Joan M. Young v. United States Postal Service, MSPB Docket Number AT-0752-09-0177-X-1 (1/11/12), the Merit Systems Protection Board affirmed the administrative judge’s recommended finding that the agency was not in compliance with the terms of a settlement agreement. The agreement provided that the agency would reinstate the appellant to her former position of rural carrier provided that she submit to an independent medical examination by a board-certified psychiatrist and that the psychiatrist determined that she was medically capable of returning to duty in her former position. The psychiatrist concluded that Young suffered from persistent psychiatric difficulties that would prohibit her from resuming her earlier employment. Young filed a petition for enforcement in which she alleged that the agency interfered with the independence of the medical examination.
The Board agreed with the finding of the administrative judge that the agency had interfered with the independent nature of the medical examination by faxing agency records to the psychiatrist and therefore materially breached the settlement agreement. The Board noted the finding of the administrative judge that the agency’s interpretation of what constituted an "independent medical examination" was unreasonable and found that Young’s interpretation that the agency should not have interfered with the independent medical examination was reasonable. The Board noted Young’s right to retain a psychiatrist of her own choosing and that the agency was obligated to respect the independence of the examination.
The Board also found that in cases involving disclosure of information in violation of settlement agreements, the appellant does not need to show actual harm in order to establish that a nondisclosure provision has been breached. The Board ordered the agency to allow Young to submit to a new independent medical examination and stated that the only information the agency could provide were the job requirements and standards she must meet to be medically capable of returning to her former position. The Board found that if the independent medical examination determined that Young could return to her position, the agency must reinstate her with back pay and benefits.
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