Appealing an Agency Decision
The FAA has decided to take some action against you and you do not know where to start; well, this little guide can help you decide which appeal process you want to use. Most people know that when the FAA has done something an employee objects to, they can file a grievance. A grievance can be filed over any contract or legal violation that relates to your employment so long as it is not legally prohibited. Things that you cannot file a grievance over include the firing of probationary employee, Hatch Act removals, and worker’s compensation claims. The full list of prohibited items is listed in the grievance article of everyone’s contract.
Now, if the action the FAA has taken against you is related to your union activity, you can either file a grievance or an unfair labor practice charge, but not both. A grievance has to be filed within 20 days, but you have up to six months to file an unfair labor practice charge. However, if the FAA has violated both your statutory rights and contract rights, then you may want to file a grievance. The Federal Labor Relations Authority, the entity deciding ULP charges, only has the authority to enforce violations of its statute. An arbitrator, however, has the authority to decide cases involving statutory and contract issues.
Now, if the action the FAA is taking against you involves a disciplinary action, which is a reprimand of up to a 14-day suspension, and it does not involve an EEO matter, then the grievance process is your appeal method. If, however, the disciplinary action involves an EEO matter you also have the right file with EEOC or a grievance, but you have 45 days to file with the EEO and only 20 days to file a grievance.
If the action the FAA is taking is a suspension of 15 days or more or a removal action, you have two different appeal routes. You can either file a grievance or appeal your case to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). If you fail to file a grievance within 20 days of the effective date of the suspension, you can still file with the MSPB as its filing deadline is 30 days from the effective date of the suspension. However, if the adverse action also involves an EEO issue, you may file either a grievance, appeal to the MSPB or with EEOC.
No matter what appeal route you take, the important thing is to know what appeal body has jurisdiction and your filing deadlines. If you have trouble deciding what venue to use, contact your local FacRep or NATCA Labor Relations Representative to discuss the matter. You want to make sure that you make an informed choice in picking your appeal process because once you file you have made your election and cannot switch to a new process. A little time and research before you file could really save you a lot of heartache in the end.