Labor and Employee Relations Highlights of 2011

Each new year, we take a look back to determine whether those who labor in the public interest and get in trouble have gotten smarter or tell a better story or do not try to make a bad case worse by going on the record. It has not happened yet.

Each new year, we at Fedsmith take a look back at the past 12 months looking to determine whether those who labor in the public interest and get in trouble have gotten smarter or tell a better story or don’t try to make a bad case worse by going on the record. Each year, at least so far, it hasn’t happened. Bill Cosby got it right when he said, “a word to the wise ain’t necessary—it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.”

Court Says It’s Too Hard to Lose Your Pants Accidentally in Front of Females at Work

A Postal supervisor who got fired for a number of inappropriate behaviors tried to convince first the MSPB and then the Federal Circuit that his pants fell off accidentally. Neither body believed him. Then he apparently tried to argue that employees similarly situated weren’t fired. While we don’t know how many pants are dropped by non-supervisors at the Post Office, that argument was also not persuasive.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

This case involved Question 23f on the SF86 (which we’ve all filled out, some of us more than once) asking if the person had been arrested, charged with or convicted of any offense within the previous seven years. The question specifically excluded traffic fines less than $150 unless alcohol or drug related. The guy in this case said no but it was subsequently found that he had not only been arrested but charged with “spousal abuse, battery, and vandalism.”

I don’t know about you, but that’d be pretty hard for me to forget. He then went to court. Amazingly He didn’t dispute the facts. He did claim that OPM (which had barred him from Federal employment) discriminated against him (based on race, disability and sex), that the question (23f) is ambiguous, violates various laws, and violates his 5th Amendment constitutional rights, and subjects him to double jeopardy. Dr. Nordstrom’s First Rule of Debate is alleged to hold that It is difficult to win an argument when your opponent is unencumbered with a knowledge of the facts.

As a service to the LER community, I looked up where the expression “liar, liar, pants on fire” originated. The web claims it derives from a poem by William Blake of 1810 which goes as follows:


Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Shall they dangle in the night?

When I asked of your career
Why did you have to kick my rear
With that stinking lie of thine
Proclaiming that you owned a mine?

When you asked to borrow my stallion
To visit a nearby-moored galleon
How could I ever know that you
Intended only to turn him into glue?

What red devil of mendacity
Grips your soul with such tenacity?
Will one you cruelly shower with lies
Put a pistol ball between your eyes?

What infernal serpent
Has lent you his forked tongue?
From what pit of foul deceit
Are all these whoppers sprung?

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Do they dangle in the night?

Listening to Way Too Much Sinatra on Your iPod

Apparently, the person in this case was addicted to Old Blue Eyes version of “My Way.” Her Agency gave her instructions, some in writing to do things but she decided no way and got the highway.

Talk about Nuthin’ to Do

The facts in this case are amazing. The individual had both a five and twenty day suspension on his record for AWOL and failure to follow instructions. The third time around, the agency removed him for the same reasons. His supervisor ordered him to review three audit cases if not closed out by a certain date and to refer a fourth case for audit. At hearing, he did not dispute the supervisor’s testimony that these four tasks would take less than five minutes to complete in a three week period. Wouldn’t you like to know what he was into that he couldn’t take 20 minutes to keep his job?

Surprised She only Got Fired

This lady got hired by the prisons to enter data. She was trained, apparently more than once but the training apparently didn’t take. She got fired for poor performance. Among her mistakes were causing one inmate being held over 61 days without a hearing before a judge, transferring another inmate for no reason, and incorrectly listing several inmates as having been released. I hope none of them were Sammy the Bull, Jimmy the Weasel or Louie Ha Ha (real mob nicknames).

Dancing Under the Stars

Perhaps frustrated by not getting an audition on dancing with the stars, this Washingtonian decided to engage in “expressive dancing” under the stars at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the Mall with 17 of her closest friends. An unamused or perhaps unappreciative Park Police Officer ended up arresting her for dancing without a permit or something like that. The District Court judge dismissed her suit against the officer for violating her constitutional rights. One can only ask if the result would have differed had the TV show’s judges rated her No. 1.

Cash and OWCP Too

U.S. prosecutors are among the best and brightest in our government. Somehow a bad apple got through the process and decided to make his fortune accepting bribes involving customs and immigration cases. He got 212 months (17 2/3 years) in the Federal slammer and over ¼ million in fines. I could be wrong but I’d bet what really ticked everybody off in addition to his crimes was that he was fraudulently collecting worker’s comp.

Scolding the FLRA

As all my readers know, I find a lot to be critical about the Federal Labor Relations Authority. This year I was joined in my criticism by none other than the DC Circuit. The court found that it owes no deference to a FLRA’s statutory interpretation where it has endeavored to trump a law with the Act of 1978 which it does have authority to interpret. FLRA never acknowledged the court’s decision in its various press releases or reports. I guess FLRA is like the energizer bunny, they’ll take a licking but keep on ticking off the court.

If you have a case in the public domain that would be worth writing up, let us know.

Please remember that any opinion expressed above is mine alone.

Happy New Year

About the Author

Bob Gilson is a consultant with a specialty in working with and training Federal agencies to resolve employee problems at all levels. A retired agency labor and employee relations director, Bob has authored or co-authored a number of books dealing with Federal issues and also conducts training seminars.