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Chambers v. Department of Interior: Administrative Judge Initial Decision 20041006

Chambers v. Department of Interior: Administrative Judge Initial Decision 20041006

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Published by Robert J. MacLean
Teresa Chambers v. Department of Interior: Administrative Judge Initial Decision October 6, 2004
Teresa Chambers v. Department of Interior: Administrative Judge Initial Decision October 6, 2004

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Published by: Robert J. MacLean on Jun 16, 2014
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UNITED
STATES
OF
AMERICA
MERIT
SYSTEMS
PROTECTION
BOARD
WASHINGTONREGIONAL
OFFICE
TERESA
C
CHAMBERS,Appellant,
v.
DEPARTMENTOFTHEINTERIOR,Agency.DOCKETNUMBERSDC-0752-04-0642-I-lDC-1221-04-06l6-
W l
DATE:October
6 2004
Richard
E
Condit,Esquire,PublicEmployeesforEnvironmentalResponsibility,Washington,D.C.,andMickHarrison,Esquire,EnvironmentalCenter,Bloomington,Indiana,fortheappellant.Robert
D
L Heureux,Esquire,McNamara
 
L Heureux,andRennFowler,Esquire,Alexandria,Virginia,fortheagency.
BEFORE
Elizabeth
 
BogleAdministrativeJudge
INITIALDECISION
OnJune28,2004,Teresa
C
Chambers appellant)filedanindividualright
of
action IRA)appealallegingthattheNationalParkService NPS),Department
of
theInterior,proposedherremovalandplacedheronadministrativeleaveinreprisalforherwhistleblowingactivity.Under5U.S.C.
§
1214 a) 3),anemployeemayfileanIRAappealtotheBoardfromanagencypersonnelactionallegedtohavebeenproposed,taken,ornottakenbecause
of
herwhistleblowingactivity.5C.F.R.
§
l209.2 a).Theappellanthastheburden
of
provingbypreponderantevidencethattheBoardhasjurisdictionoverherIRAappeal.5
 
2
C.F.R.
§
1201.56(a)(2).OnJuly12,2004,theappellantfileda
second
appealfromthe
agency s
decisiontoremoveher.
The
Boardhas
jurisdiction
overtheremovalappealbecausetheappellantwasanindividualinthecompetitiveservicewitha
right
toappealaremovalactiontakenunder5
U.S.c.
chapter75.5U.S.C.
§§
751I
(a)(I)(A),
7512(1),
7513(d).Forthefollowingreasons,theIRAappealis
DISMISSED
andtheremovalaction
 s
AFFIRMED.
 
BackgroundTheappellant
washiredonFebruary10,2002,
 s
Chief,U.S.ParkPolice(USPP),SP-0083-11,
step
14,NPS.Shehadextensivelaw
enforcement
trainingand
experience,
butshehadnopriorFederalservice.Herimmediate
supervisor
was
Donald
W.Murphy,
Deputy
Director,NPS.FranMainella,Director,NPS,washer
second
levelsupervisor.
On
December
5,2003,Mr.Murphynotifiedtheappellantthat
he
was
placingher
on
administrative
leave
 pendingcompletion
of
areview
of
[her)
conduct
thatmay
result
inaproposalfordisciplinaryaction. AppealFile(AF)1221tab9,
subtab
4b.Bymemorandumdated
December
17,2003,Mr.Murphy
proposedher
removal.AF752tab3,subtab4c.Thereasonsfortheproposalwere:
(I)
Improper
budgetcommunications;(2)MakingpublicremarksregardingsecurityontheFederalmall,andinparksandontheparkwaysintheWashington,D.C.metropolitanarea;
(3)
Improperdisclosure
of
budgetdeliberations;(4)
Improper
lobbying;(5)Failuretocarryouta
supervisor s
instructions;and(6)
Failure
tofollowthechain
of
command.Mr.MurphystatedthatindeterminingthepenaltyheconsideredthatonMarch31,2003,theappellantreceivedawritten
reprimand
forusingaGovernment-ownedvehicle(GOY)for
other
thanofficialbusinessandforauthorizingasimilarmisusebyasubordinateemployee.
1
Theappellant sSeptember3,2004,motion
to
compelorforsanctions
 s
DENIED
 s
untimely.Pursuant
to
thehearingnotice,discoveryclosed
on
August30,2004,thedateoftheprehearingteleconference.
 
3
AF1221tab9,subtab4n.Theappellantmadeawrittenreplytotheproposal.AF752tab3,subtabs
41
4m.
The
appellantfiledacomplaintwiththeOffice
of
SpecialCounsel OSC onJanuary29,2004.Inthecomplaint,sheallegedthattheagencyplacedheronadministrativeleaveandproposedherremovalinreprisalfordisclosuresshemadeonNovember3,2003,toDeborahWeatherly,anInteriorAppropriationsSubcommittee
staff
member,onNovember20,2003,toaWashingtonPostreporter,andon
December
2,2003,toFranMainella,Director,NationalParkService.AF1221tabI.AftertheappellantfiledherIRAappealtotheBoard,OSCterminateditsinvestigation.AF1221tab8,subtabc.OnJuly
9 2004
PaulHoffman,DeputyAssistantSecretaryforFishandWildlifeandParks,
Department
of
theInterior,issuedadecisionsustainingall
of
thechargesandimposingthe
removal
penalty.AF752tab3,subtab4b.
THE
IRAAPPEAL
LegalstandardInordertoprovethattheBoardhasjurisdictionoveranappealasanIRAappeal,theappellantmustshowthatshehasexhaustedheradministrativeremediesbeforeOSCandmakenonfrivolousallegationsthat:
 1
Sheengagedinwhistleblowingactivitybymakingaprotecteddisclosureunder5U.S.C.
§
2302 b 8 ,i.e.,shedisclosedinformationthatshereasonablybelievedevidencedaviolation
of
law,ruleorregulation,grossmismanagement,agrosswaste
of
funds,abuse
of
authority,orasubstantialandspecificdangertopublichealthorsafety;and 2 Thedisclosurewasacontributingfactorinthe
agency s
decisiontotakeorfailtotakeapersonnelactionsasdefinedby5
U.S.c.
§
2302 a .
SeeRusin
v
Department
 
theTreasury,
92M.S.P.R.298,304
 2002 ,citing,Yunus
 
Department
 
VeteransAffairs,
242F.3d1367 Fed.Cir.2001 .

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