Fedweek

Agency compliance with a court order blocking key parts of executive orders on federal employee disciplinary policies and union rights remains at issue, two months after the court ruling and OPM instructions that agencies should stop enforcing the enjoined policies.

The lower court’s ruling is under appeal, but the appeals court recently refused to put the case on a fast-track for consideration, meaning that the injunction will remain in effect at least until well into 2019. Federal unions are contesting the appeal but meanwhile continue to assert that some agencies are acting as if the orders were still fully in effect. Most recently, the AFGE union contended that the EEOC is imposing restrictions on official time similar to those the orders sought to impose—but that the court blocked.

One reaction to those continued complaints has been a new letter to OPM from 16 Senate Democrats, expressing their “serious concerns” that agencies “have been slow in rolling back their implementation efforts and have continued to stonewall during collective bargaining negotiations in order to achieve the effects of the invalidated provisions.”

Their letter said that OPM has not made clear what agencies should do about actions taken during the several months between when the orders were issued and when the court intervened. They asked what OPM has been doing to make sure that agencies restore the policies in effect before the orders were issued and whether further guidance is coming.

The lower court did not fully block the executive orders, leaving in place for example several provisions regarding agency choices of penalties in disciplinary cases.