Arbitrator and Federal Court Uphold Removal

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld the decision of an arbitrator finding that the firing of an employee at the National Personnel Records Center for poor performance was justified.

An Archive Technician fired for releasing protected information to unauthorized individuals failed in her bid to get the federal circuit to overturn an arbitrator’s decision that upheld the firing. (Banks v. National Personnel Records Center, C.A.F.C. No. 2006-3293 (nonprecedential), 1/9/07) The facts are as set out in the court’s decision.

Ms. Banks’ job with the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, gave her responsibility to send military documents to requestors. At least 2 times she sent documents to third parties without redacting protected personal information. The agency sent her two counseling letters. When she continued to violate the agency rules, NPRC fired her.

Banks turned to her union to challenge her firing. The American Federation of Government Employees Local 104 filed a grievance on her behalf. When it was denied, Banks and the union invoked arbitration. The arbitrator sided with the agency, finding that Banks’ firing was for just cause. (p. 2)

Banks took her case to the federal circuit where she faced the uphill battle of convincing the court to overturn an arbitrator’s decision. No dice. As the court stated, “Ms. Banks does not dispute that the charged events occurred. The arbitrator found that her negligent performance of her position’s responsibilities adversely affected NPRC’s efficiency, caused delay and inconvenience to the veterans served by the agency, that the penalty of removal was not excessive in the view of the persistence of error, and that there were no mitigating circumstances.” (p. 4)

The arbitrator’s decision and the agency’s firing of Banks are affirmed.

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.