Grievant v. FSGB, On June 27, 2019, the Foreign Service Grievance Board ordered the reinstatement of a Foreign Service Officer represented by Daniel S. Crowley and Karey L. Hart. The employee, whose personal hobby involved the study and preservation of reptiles, rescued a number of tortoises, turtles, and lizards, while posted abroad. When his tour ended, he tried to navigate the foreign, domestic, and international trade laws necessary to bring the reptiles home to the United States. Claiming to have discovered irregularities in his paperwork, his employer, the U.S. Agency for International Development, charged the employee with poor judgment and lack of candor. The employee was placed on leave without pay in August 2016 as the agency pursued his termination through the FSGB. The case was presented to a panel of three FSGB judges during a three-day evidentiary hearing. The Board found no “element of deception” in the employee’s conduct. As a result, the agency could not prove the lack of candor charge and could not fire the employee. The employee will now be returned to work and paid nearly three years of back pay and benefits. HANNON LAW GROUP, LLP will also ask the FSGB to order the agency to pay all the attorneys’ fees the employee incurred defending himself.
Represented a former USAID Supervisory Contracting Officer in debarment proceedings. Our client had been retired from the agency for over two years before it brought the debarment charges. Even though he had retired, the charge would have impacted his ability to obtain work in the future. Such a charge was highly unusual, given the client was no longer engaged in contracting work, or with the agency. We successfully persuaded USAID that this matter was meritless and that our client should not be debarred. Former employees of federal agencies should be aware that they may still be subject to charges of impropriety after they depart from the agency.
Grievant v. Dep’t. of State, FSGB 2009-032 (Mar. 14, 2011). Represented a Special Agent in the Diplomatic Security Service to be suspended for misuse of official letterhead. After an evidentiary hearing on the merits, the Foreign Service Grievance Board held that the agency misapplied the Douglas factors and that a suspension was not warranted. The discipline was reduced to an oral admonishment—the lowest level of discipline available—and the Special Agent was awarded attorneys’ fees. In later proceedings, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia overturned the Grievance Board’s longstanding and arbitrary cap on attorneys’ fees.
Grievant v. USAID, FSGB 2010-027. Represented a Foreign Service Officer proposed for removal based on allegations of voucher fraud. The case settled after it was shown that high-ranking officials at USAID withheld exculpatory information from the deciding official, pressured HR to proceed with the removal, and exchanged email evidencing serious racial discriminatory animus. The FSO was returned to work with backpay, benefits, retroactive promotion, and attorneys’ fees.