How Much AWOL Is Enough to Justify Removal of a Federal Employee?

How many hours of being away from with with an unapproved absence is sufficient to justify firing a federal employee? Apparently 101 hours in three weeks is enough although, in this case, the employee took the case to federal court before the issue was resolved.

A Census Bureau employee removed for 101 hours of absence without approved leave (AWOL) and filing false documents to support her leave requests was unsuccessful in her bid to the appeals court to overturn her firing. (Crumpton v. Department of Commerce, C.A.F.C. No. 2008-3268 (nonprecedential), 3/6/09)

Crumpton worked as a Statistical Clerk with Census. The agency removed her for AWOL and for trying to support her leave requests by submitting false medical documentation. (Opinion p. 2)

The Merit Systems Protection Board upheld Crumpton’s removal. The Administrative Judge concluded that the agency had proved she had turned in false medical documents.

Also, the AJ found Crumpton had been AWOL for 101 hours during a 3-week period. The AJ found there was a nexus between the charges against Crumpton and the agency’s ability to perform its mission and concluded that removal was reasonable under the circumstances. (p. 2)

Crumpton tried her luck with the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the court has now sustained the agency and the MSPB. Crumpton stays fired. (p. 3)

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.