Navy Furlough of Civilian Employees Following Sequester Upheld by Court

A challenge by several civilian Navy employees to their furlough by the agency in response to the 2013 automatic budget cuts resulting from sequestration has been rejected by the appeals court.

First the Merit Systems Protection Board and now the appeals court see no merit in a challenge launched by several Navy employees to their six-day furlough in 2013. (Einboden v. Navy, CAFC No. 2015-3117, 10/1/15) The furloughs were proposed for eleven days, but because Navy was able to come up with savings elsewhere, the actual furlough was for six days.

Employees of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division appealed, arguing that since their operation is a capital fund activity that is funded by fees charged to other agencies for their services, sequestration was improperly applied to Dahlgren. Therefore their furloughs were inappropriate and should be set aside. (Opinion p. 3)

The Board upheld the furloughs as having followed proper procedures and as a “reasonable management solution to the financial issues facing the agency.” (p. 4)

The appeals court has now sided with the Board’s decision, stating, “It is not our role to second guess agency decisions as to how to prioritize funding when faced with a budget shortfall.” (p. 6)

The court found the Board correctly interpreted that the efficiency of the service, adopting the Board’s logic that this fairly administered furlough was a “reasonable management solution.” (p. 6)

This decision probably closes the door to the numerous furlough appeals brought about by the sequestration that was triggered in 2013.

Einboden v. Navy (2015-3117)

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.