Q & A Session – Staggered AWOL


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


In 2011, I exhausted all my sick and annual leave and took FMLA leave. Shortly after I returned to work, I was issued a leave letter and was told any leave in the future would be charged to AWOL, unless a family member or I was in the hospital. I had filed an EEO complaint and had an informal meeting, unfortunately because I was sick I failed to file a formal. I do wonder if the AWOL leave letter was a form of retaliation.

Now, I work for another agency and they have given me a letter proposing 30-days suspension. Is it legal for them to charge me AWOL even when I am sick with a disability like depression? If I am suspended, can it be over a period of time, like one day per week, or something like that, so I’m not deprived a salary as it would further depress me.


Yes, you can be charged AWOL even if you are sick if you have used your sick leave and do not meet agency standards of practice for granting advance leave, leave without pay or donated leave. Whether your suspension is served all at once or is staggered is a matter of discretion with your agency.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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1 Comment

  1. The AWOL policy is applied selectively.

    I have seen employees that call in sick and they were not sick just went to the hair salon. Just becuase they are friends with the supervisor they can do this multiple times.

    While the same supervisor applies diferent rules to other employees.

    The corruption of supervisors and the un equal treatment of employees and the failure to apply the agency policy accross the board leads to the waste fraud and abuse of the agency resource the employee.

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