(Washington) - The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) recently helped an employee of the Department of Homeland Security win her job back after the agency fired her claiming she was medically incapable of completing job training.
The employee, a field training officer with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Protective Services, was required to attend and complete the Mixed Police Basic Training Program. Following knee surgery, she was told that she could not attend the training and soon after was fired from her job. After her knee surgery, she was advised by a doctor not to run; however a second opinion allowed her to “continue with activities as tolerated.” Regardless of this, DHS removed the employee from her job.
AFGE argued that DHS did not prove the grievant was medically unable to complete her training. In addition to the fact that the second doctor did not ban her from running, the agency’s own deputy regional director admitted that there was no way of knowing whether the employee could tolerate running and thus complete the training. The arbitrator found in favor of AFGE and awarded that the grievant be reinstated with back pay.
“This was nothing more than a case of DHS abusing its authority,” said AFGE Legal Rights Attorney Angelia Wade, who represented the grievant. “This woman was a longtime federal employee and a qualified field training officer. DHS swooped in and took her job from her without even proving that she couldn’t function in her position. The agency decided for the grievant whether she could do her job, without giving her the opportunity to succeed or fail.
“This should serve as notice to DHS and any other government agency that wrongfully terminates an employee—AFGE stands behind its members and will fight every step of the way. No agency has the right to remove an employee without first knowing all the facts and considering all opinions. Anytime this happens, you better believe AFGE will be right there to defend the civil servants who give their all,” AFGE Field Services Department Director Joseph Henderson said.