Email to a friend

Locker Room Behavior – Pants Dropping, Sex Banter – Merits Demotion

The bar for excellence keeps getting higher for federal government supervisors. Perhaps that’s why, in 2011, 57 percent of federal employees surveyed by the Office of Personnel Management found that their organizations’ leaders maintained high levels of honesty and integrity, up from 50.3 percent in 2006. That also partly explains why the U.S.  Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently ruled the U.S. Postal Service was justified in demoting a supervisor to a non-managerial position after he consistently made inappropriate comments and, at one point, dropped his pants at work.

The Federal Circuit affirmed a Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) decision holding that managers may be held to a higher degree of accountability than “lower-level supervisors.” Natty v. U.S. Postal Service, No. 2011-3138 (2011). The case involved an agency manager, Anthony Natty, who was a Postal Service employee with decades of federal service. He oversaw 130 employees, including six subordinate supervisors. Since 2009, Natty was found to have made race and sex-based comments. On one occasion, Natty intentionally dropped his pants while on duty.

In June 2010, the Postal Service demoted Natty to a non-managerial position. He appealed this adverse action to the MSPB. He argued that his sex-based comments were appropriate as the comments referred to his dating preferences. Natty further claimed the penalty of demotion was unreasonable because he was not put on notice about the inappropriateness of his comments. The agency provided testimony from a female agency employee who alleged these comments went beyond dating preferences. The administrative judge found her testimony credible. The administrative judge further found that the agency acted within its discretion with respect to the reasonableness of the proposed penalty.

What federal supervisors need to know:

  • For an adverse action to be justified, an agency needs to:
    • Prove the charged conduct occurred;
    • Show a nexus between the conduct and the efficiency of the federal service; and
    • Establish the reasonableness of a penalty.
  • Supervisors who have received Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) training are placed on notice that that similar conduct is inappropriate.
  • The seriousness of a supervisor’s conduct is aggravated when he or she is responsible implementing EEO laws.
  • A reasonable penalty is less severe for lower-level supervisors.

While the bar is now high for federal managers, unrealistic expectations or unreasonable standards may be applied. Leaders occasionally falter; a manager should immediately contact a federal employment lawyer who can defend his or her rights when any such action is proposed.


Attorney Locator

Find an attorney near you.
Click below.

Contact Us

  • Tully Rinckey announces new hires and promotion

    Derrick T. Hogan was promoted to senior associate, overseeing the criminal defense practice in Albany. Hogan joined as a law clerk in 2009. Morgan Smith joined as recruitment manager. Smith has more than 14 years of staffing and recruitment experience and previously …

  • Albany Police Officer Arrested

    Officer Caught on Camera Slamming 15-Year old Girl Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox says on July 26th, Officer Ervis Miftari was called to St. Anne Institute, a rehabilitation center for troubled girls, to help with one of the residents, who …

Read All

  • Free Download: EEOC 2016 Update White Paper

    You Could Be Sharing Confidential Info and Not Even Know It Tully Rinckey’s white paper details the Equal Employment Opportunity’s (“EEOC”) nationwide change to procedure that has gone largely unnoticed. The new procedure applies to Charges filed on or after …

Read All

Read All

  • Tully Rinckey PLLC Binghamton Office Ribbon Cutting

    You’re Invited: Tully Rinckey PLLC Binghamton Office Ribbon Cutting Tully Rinckey PLLC, an upstate-wide coast-to-coast 70 attorney full-service law firm, is holding a ribbon cutting for its new office space at 4100 Vestal Road, Suite 104, Vestal, NY 13850 on …

Read All