Dog Bites Mail Carrier and Supervisor is Removed

A supervisor with 44 years of service who failed to follow agency policy when a mail carrier was bitten while on duty ends up losing her job based on this and several other misjudgments in carrying out her supervisory responsibilities.

A Postal Service Customer Services Manager in Chicago, removed for various lapses in supervisory responsibilities, has lost her court appeal. (Montgomery v. United States Postal Service (CAFC No. 2014-3049 (nonprecedential), 6/12/14))

According to facts as reported by the court’s opinion, Ms. Montgomery’s removal cited several problems. The agency cited several instances of failing to perform her duties as assigned and failing to carry out orders—such as failing to ensure mail was scanned property, delivered on time, and personnel attendance and discipline were handled promptly.  One particular instance of dereliction had to do with Montgomery’s failure to report on-the-job dog bite injuries to one of the postal carriers under her supervision.  Instead of ordering the carrier to get medical treatment, she instructed him to finish his route. The agency particularly did not like how she handled the dog bite situation, calling it and “extremely serious offense, especially given [Montgomery’s] position as Station Manager.” (Opinion pp 2-.3)

Given a prior disciplinary action for similar lapses in performing her duties, the agency proposed Montgomery’s removal notwithstanding her 44 years of service. While the long service was a “mitigating factor” it did not “overcome the ‘seriousness of [her] misconduct.” (p. 3)

Montgomery’s appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board was unsuccessful. The Administrative Judge accepted the agency’s reasoning, citing Montgomery’s “poor rehabilitative potential.” (p. 4) The full MSPB declined to overturn the AJ’s decision pointing out that the Board had traditionally had no problem with agencies holding supervisors who are in rules of trust and responsibility to a higher standard. (p. 4)

The court’s decision upholding Montgomery’s removal paid close attention to the dog bite incident. The court noted the conflicting testimony between Montgomery who said she did not learn about it until a couple of weeks after the fact and the carrier who testified he told her and other employees right away but ended up having to take leave the next day to see a doctor for treatment. There was also evidence that some customers on his route complained of bloodstains on their mail.

The end result is that this 44-year employee could not win her job back.

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.