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.
Can I choose the return day to the job after a Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) Reinstatement Order? During the Removal Proposal period, my agency forced me to return to work after two weeks of sick leave. Two hours after I returned to the office after the Removal Proposal period, the Deciding Official ordered me to go home until further notice, which lasted for more than two months. He had placed me on Administrative Leave, but I believe that it was actually an indefinite suspension requiring an SF-50. Who is correct?
Nearly two years later, the MSPB Final Order was issued which reinstated me. The same Deciding Official from before forced me to return to work a week before Christmas after I asked to return mid-February. I believe the Deciding Official is exerting bad faith by placing me back at work at a time when most employees are taking leave. I also believe that the agency can choose a final day to calculate back pay and use the “effective date” that I asked for (in mid-February). Is that possible?
To answer your first question, your supervisor is correct. Administrative leave can be for an indefinite period, but you are paid.
As for your second question, the agency has an obligation to place you back at work. You might be able to negotiate some leave, but you have to return or be fined for AWOL.
Bill Bransford is managing partner of the federal employment law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.
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