A GS-6 Pharmacy Technician refused to wear a mask around the workplace during the COVID epidemic despite an agency order issued in November 2020. It required that they be worn everywhere on the premises unless the employee was alone in a room and the door was closed. When informed she would not be allowed on the premises any longer unless she wore the mask, she claimed a religious accommodation. Then she just stopped coming to work for several weeks until her claim was resolved.  When the agency rejected her religious objection because there were no accommodations acceptable to both the agency and employee that did not create an undue hardship for the agency, it fired her for her AWOL.

The Board upheld the termination declaring, “[A]lthough the appellant’s religious beliefs, her refusal to wear a mask, and the absences underlying her removal are linked, a finding that the appellant was removed for either unauthorized absences or failure to follow masking policy does not entail a finding that the removal was motivated by the appellant’s religious beliefs.”

There was a tiny bit of good news for the anti-maskers.  The Board also stated that its decision, “Although we hold that the appellant in this case has not shown that the agency could accommodate her religious belief without undue hardship, our holding is limited to the facts of this particular case. This is especially so considering the unique time period at issue in this appeal, which was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and prior to the widespread availability of vaccines. The Board will analyze a religious accommodation claim based on the facts in existence at the time in which the operative events occurred.”

Check out Sherlena E. Davis v. Dep’t. of the Air Force, MSPB Doc. No. DA-0752-21-0227-I-1 (02/02/2023) for details

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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One Response to

  1. April Rainey says:

    Good, they should have fired her, if you don’t want to follow the rules at work then work somewhere else!

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