MSPB Affirms Sequestration Furlough

In Yee v. Dept. of the Navy, 2014 MSPB 81 (October 30, 2014), the MSPB upheld the 2013 furlough of Yee, an attorney with the Navy in response to sequestration.

Yee claimed that DoD was not authorized to order the Navy to furlough its own employees because the Navy had enough funding to avoid a furlough. Moreover, Yee claimed that she should not have been furloughed because her position was funded by reimbursements from nongovernment entities, rather than from appropriated funds from the government. Further, Yee claimed that the Navy did not furlough all employees in a fair and even manner because some other attorneys in the office of general counsel were not furloughed.

The administrative judge found that the furlough was an appropriate response to sequestration. Moreover, the AJ found that DoD was permitted to look at its budget holistically, as opposed to just the Navy’s budget by itself, when making furlough decisions. The AJ found that DoD was permitted to conserve its own working capital funds from all its constituent agencies, so that it could draw upon these funds if it had more urgent needs.

Lastly, the AJ found that the Navy furloughed its employees in a fair and even manner. The AJ found that the employees cited by Yee who were not furloughed worked directly for a Navy shipyard, and that the Navy excepted these employees because these employees worked on nuclear vessels and were critical to mission success.

On appeal, the MSPB dismissed Yee’s argument that DoD needed to look at its budget solely as it pertained to the Navy. Moreover, the MSPB agreed with the AJ that the furlough was a reasonable management solution to the financial restrictions placed on it by the 2013 sequestrations. The MSPB also found that Yee failed to show that the agency administered the furloughs unfairly. Most importantly, the MSPB found that the Navy’s interest in using the furloughs to contend with the serious budgetary challenges facing it as a whole was a legitimate interest and that the Navy showed by preponderant evidence that the furlough action promoted the efficiency of the service.

* This information is provided by the attorneys at Passman & Kaplan, P.C., a law firm dedicated to the representation of federal employees worldwide. For more information on Passman & Kaplan, P.C., go to http://www.passmanandkaplan.com.

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