FLRA Seeks Briefs on Attorney’s Fees Questions

In an unusual move, the FLRA is providing for filing amici briefs on a case concerning an award of attorney fees in the federal labor relations context.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) is inviting those in the federal labor relations community to comment on a significant issue in a case.

The case is Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Michael E. DeBakey Medical Center, Houston, Texas, and American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Local 1633, Case No. 0-AR-5354.

The issues include whether there is a need for the FLRA to reconsider its reliance on the factors or criteria in Allen v. U.S. Postal Service, 2 M.S.P.R. 420 (1980) when considering if an award of attorney’s fees is in the “interest of justice”.  If reconsideration is warranted, what factors or criteria should be used in the federal collective-bargaining context?

As this is likely an issue of concern to agencies, labor organizations, and other interested persons, the FLRA is providing for the filing of amici briefs on the issue.

Interested persons are asked to address the following questions, which are set forth in an “Opportunity To Submit Amici Curiae Briefs in an Arbitration Appeal Pending Before the Federal Labor Relations Authority,” appearing in the Federal Register:

What factors should the Authority consider when determining whether the statutory criteria for attorney fees are met in the federal collective bargaining context? What factors should the Authority not consider? For example, how should the Authority determine who is a “prevailing party” in the context of the interpretation of a collective-bargaining agreement?

Briefs should address:

  1. The wording of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and the Back Pay Act;
  2. Any principles of statutory construction;
  3. Any legislative history regarding 5 U.S.C. § 7701(g) and any other relevant provisions of the Statute or other applicable laws; and
  4. The practical impact of suggested criteria that should be considered in light of the Statute’s requirement that its provisions be interpreted in a manner consistent with the requirement of an effective and efficient government.

The Authority will consider briefs received on or before April 1, 2019. Additional information is available from Emily Sloop, Chief, Case Intake and Publication, at 202-218-7740.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47