OWCP Claims and Unlawful FAA Interference
The FAA has undertaken a new mode of attack towards employees who are on OWCP. Their actions involve treating someone on OWCP as being separated from the Agency and the FAA contacting OWCP claimants either in person or by phone regarding their claims. All of these actions are illegal and are being addressed by NATCA with the FAA.
NATCA recently became aware that the Agency has issued an order requiring employees to process out as if they are separating from the Agency after “entering on Workers Compensation.” In addition, several employees have received paperwork from the Agency instructing them to sign a form voluntarily relinquishing their security clearance as part of their “separation” due to receiving OWCP benefits. The Agency’s actions are illegal and conflict with the Agency’s statutory obligation to return employees to work “immediately and unconditionally” within one year of the injury. Employees should be advised that if they receive paperwork instructing them that they are being separated from the Agency, including the security clearance termination form, they should refuse to sign the form unless ordered to do so and contact their FacRep. A grievance should be filed alleging a violation of the Article 75 (Injury Compensation) and law, rule and regulation, in the event an employee is ordered to sign the security clearance termination form.
In addition, the Agency has also been calling OWCP claimants at their homes and conducting in-person home visits in which the FAA claims to be “assisting” the employees. However, the purpose of the calls and visits is to request medical information directly from the employees that the FAA will use the information to controvert the claims. The Agency has stated these “interviews” are voluntary. NATCA has notified the Agency that the Union represents these employees for purposes of their OWCP claims and that we consider these contacts to be a violation of the statutory right to representation. These contacts also violate the regulations which provide that the FAA should request medical updates from the employees’ doctors in writing using the CA-17 form. Employees should refuse to speak with anyone conducting and in-home visit or phone interview unless ordered to do so and any requests for information should be referred to their representative.
Finally, the Agency in the Southern Region has recently misdirected claims forms by changing the mailing address on the forms to an FAA address, rather than the DOL/OWCP claims processing office. Again, this is contrary to the regulations which mandate that the Agency submit the CA-1/CA-2 and other forms directly to the DOL/OWCP. OWCP claimants should get copies of the documents sent by the Agency in order to verify that the information is being sent to the correct address.
Questions regarding these matters should be directed to a FacRep, a Regional Vice President, or the NATCA LR Dept.