Federal Engineer Gets Large Back Pay Settlement, Leave and TSP Contributions

The OSC says the MSPB has approved a settlement agreement in a case filed by OSC against the Army Corps of Engineers. The agreement gives the former employee back pay, leave and other benefits as if he had not left the agency.

The Office of Special Counsel says the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has approved the settlement of a case filed under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). USERRA is the federal law that protects the civilian careers of men and women who perform military service.

The Special Counsel had previously decided that Russell G. Jones had satisfied the three prerequisites for acquiring reemployment rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

Jones  provided the agency advance notice of his intent to perform military service with the U.S. Air Force, he performed qualifying military service for the USAF, and he had requested reemployment. The Army Corps of Engineers had denied his reemployment request because it was untimely.

Under the settlement agreement, the Army Corps will reemploy Jones in his former position of Environmental Engineer, pay him a large lump sum to account for lost wages, make contributions to his Thrift Savings Plan account, and restore his annual and sick leave. In effect, the Office of Special Counsel got virtually everything it sought in the settlement of the case.

The agreement also provides that he be placed on leave without pay for approximately one year to complete his master’s degree. For purposes of rights and benefits based upon seniority and length of service, such as within-grade increases, career tenure, leave rate accrual, and retirement benefits, the Corps will treat him Jones as if he never left the agency.

Special Counsel Scott Bloch said that this case illustrates the agency’s commitment to enforcing the reemployment rights of federal employees who serve in the military. “The message that I want our brave service members to hear loudly and clearly is, don’t worry about your civilian jobs while you are deployed,” explained Bloch, “because OSC will vigorously enforce your reemployment rights.”

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47