Too Sick To Work at One Agency But Not A Second One

An employee of the Postal Service took a second job working for the Transportation Security Administration while on sick leave for the Postal Service. That led to his removal from the Postal Service. He apparently thought that action was unfair, so the twice-hired and once fired federal employee decided to challenge the Postal Service in court.

A Postal Service employee fired for working a second job with the Transportation Security Administration while on sick leave from his full time USPS job failed in his bid to get the appeals court to overturn his removal. (Rivoire v. United States Postal Service, C.A.F.C. No. 2007-3063 (nonprecedential), 7/16/07) The facts are taken from the court’s short decision.

Rivoire apparently took a second job with TSA without prior approval. He worked several days for TSA while he was on sick leave from the USPS. The agency removed him for violating its policy requiring that he have agency permission to work while on sick leave, as well as for unauthorized absences. (Opinion p. 1)

The fired employee argued that because his TSA hours "did not overlap with his scheduled USPS hours, he was not ‘in’ sick leave status." (p. 2) The agency, the Merit Systems Protection Board and now the Federal Circuit disagreed with that contention.

The court points to the USPS Employee and Labor Relations Manual which states at Section 513.312 that "[a]n employee who is in sick leave status may not engage in any gainful employment unless prior approval has been granted by appropriate authority." The court finds reasonable and defers to the agency’s interpretation of this policy that outside employment is not permitted "during any day for which an employee has taken sick leave" unless specifically approved by USPS. (p. 2)

In short, Rivoire failed to overturn his firing by USPS. No word as to whether he still works at TSA.

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.