It happens all too often to gays, women, minorities, union reps, the disabled, seniors and others considered too different from those with the power to make decisions – and that is why it is so important that union reps familiarize themselves with the details of how it is done.  This posting explains how the Dep’t. of Interior managed to screw over a gay Supervisory Fire Engine Captain who ranked first among seven candidates for promotion when the original Best Qualified List was constructed.

The employee ranked at the top of the BQ list with 46.75 points out of 55 possible points. But when the selecting official got the promotion panel’s BQ rankings of seven candidates for three vacancies he announced that he wanted them to add five more candidates to the list to give it “depth and diversity.” So, he decided that the panel would interview four references for each of the candidates and award up to 60 points per interview for a potential 240 points that would be added to the original promotion ranking scores. You read that right.  These add-on reference checks were suddenly worth more than four times the weight of the original ranking criteria.  Were there any formal ranking criteria to guide the scoring of these reference interviews- ABSOLUTELY NOT.

To no one’s surprise, the original number one ranked candidate then tumbled to the number eight slot, which fell just outside the decision to interview only the top seven candidates for the final selection. When the EEOC reviewed all the evidence pursuant to the employee’s complaint it also noted that the managers conducting the promotion interviews only contacted references who were known to have a beef with the complainant.  EEOC also found that the panel members gave higher scores to candidates who did not have anywhere near the experience that the employee did.

In the end, EEOC ordered that (1) the employee be retroactively promoted back to 2014 with interest and extra money to cover any adverse impact such a large lump sum would have on his income tax liability, (2) that the agency pay the employee compensatory damages and (3) that the agency consider disciplining the managers who played these discriminatory games.

We have said it before and feel no reluctance to say it again. The American education system as well as the media, can focus our time on some of the most minute events or moments in history, e.g., “Tree fell across Elm Street,” “The Battle of Culloden,” etc.  But neither bothers to educate address the laws that are going to be very relevant to a fifty-year period of our lives.  Call me crazy, but I think schools would do kids a greater service giving them the highlights of the employment laws they will work under than which one of the many English King Henry’s did what.

For more details on the case detailed above, check out Bart M. v. David Bernhardt, Dep’t. of the Interior (BLM), EEOC No. 0120160543 (2021)

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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