“A mad dog foaming at the mouth”

An employee who disliked a supervisor was transferred. After five years, the agency planned to reassign him back to the first supervisor. The employee filed an appeal contesting the reassignment.

Mr. Wyche was a long-time employee of the Department of Labor. He ran into difficulties with a particular supervisor who he claims mistreated and harassed him in the 1999 time frame. Supposedly this supervisor called Mr. Wyche a “mad dog foaming at the mouth,” a “Gestapo Agent” and conjured up images of Mr. Wyche being beaten. (Opinion p. 2) Wyche v. Department of Labor, U.S.C.A.F.C. No. 05-3329 (non-precedent), 5/5/06

Shortly after these bizarre events, Mr. Wyche was transferred and worked under another supervisor for the next five years. When he learned that the agency planned to reassign him back to the first supervisor, he stated his concerns with agency management. The agency indicated that the supervisor was cautioned to treat Mr. Wyche  professionally. At that point, Wyche put in his papers for an early out retirement. (Id.)

Mr. Wyche then turned around and filed an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board, claiming that he “had been subjected to a hostile work environment” and therefore his retirement was involuntary.

The Board’s Administrative Judge found Wyche’s concerns about future treatment by the former supervisor as “objectively unreasonable,” pointing out that the harassment had occurred some five years earlier. Therefore the AJ dismissed Wyche’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction since he had not shown that he had been involuntarily discharged. (Id. p. 3) (Wyche v. Dep’t of Labor, No. SF0752040653-I-1 (M.S.P.B. July 22, 2005, Final Decision)

When Mr. Wyche took his appeal to the Federal Circuit, he had no luck there either. The court affirmed the Board’s finding of lack of jurisdiction: “We find no error in the Board’s conclusion that, under the facts alleged by Mr. Wyche, no reasonable employee would feel they had o realistic alternative but to resign or retire…” (Id. p. 4)

About the Author

Susan McGuire Smith spent most of her federal legal career with NASA, serving as Chief Counsel at Marshall Space Flight Center for 14 years. Her expertise is in government contracts, ethics, and personnel law.