Federal Manager's Daily Report

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently

adopted the Merit Systems Protection Board’s approach to

determine whether removing an employee for rejecting a

reassignment is proper.


The case arose when a Mine Safety and Health Administration

coalmine inspector was removed for failing to accept a

reassignment. After the Board affirmed the removal, he

appealed to the Federal Circuit, which adopted the Board’s

method of determining whether the removal is proper, and

endorsed the approach as the law of the Federal Circuit.


Under the new law of the Circuit, the court first

determines whether the reassignment “will promote the

efficiency of the service,” which also requires a finding

that the agency’s decision to reassign is “based on

legitimate management considerations in the interest of

the service.” The court will find the reassignment valid

if the decision is based on a legitimate management

reason and the employee receives adequate notice.


Second, if that is established, the employee must present

evidence that the reassignment has “no solid or substantial

basis in personnel practice or principle” to move the case

forward. If that is established, the court may conclude

the decision to reassign is either arbitrary or capricious

or “an improper effort to pressure” the employee to retire.

If the employee cannot, the court may sustain the removal.


In this case, the court sustained the removal after finding

the agency advanced a legitimate management consideration

for deciding to reassign the inspector, and found the

inspector failed to present evidence that the decision to

remove him was arbitrary or based on improper agency

efforts.

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