February 03, 2005
Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6421

AFGE Appeals District Court Decision

Categories: News & Publications, Washington, D.C., Press Release, D.C. Government

San Francisco, Calif. - The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) filed a Notice of Appeal with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California appealing its decision dismissing the case of a baggage screener at Oakland Airport who was terminated for doing nothing more than joining a union and contacting an AFGE attorney for legal advice. The District Court dismissed the case after deciding that Congress took away the right of TSA screeners to contest the violation of their employment rights pursuant to the Constitution.

AFGE argued that Appellant John Gavello's constitutional rights were violated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) when the agency disciplined and summarily fired him for sending his grievance about baggage screening practices to the AFGE Office of General Counsel. AFGE obtained direct evidence from Mr. Gavello's supervisor, who said that TSA planned to fire Mr. Gavello because of his union activity.

The Department of Justice argued to the district court that it does not have the right to review a TSA decision to fire an employee even if the termination is unconstitutional. Mark Roth, AFGE's general counsel, was shocked by the government's stance, stating "it is outrageous that the federal government would argue that they have the right to violate the U.S. Constitution with impunity. By dismissing this case, the court has made this outrageous notion a reality. We hope that the Court of Appeals restores this federal employee's right to sue and be heard by the courts when his Constitutional rights are violated."

Now that the Notice of Appeal is filed, the U.S. District Court must docket the case with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Thereafter, the AFGE will have 40 days to file a brief in support of this appeal.

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