Not long ago we ran across an MSPB case filed by an FDIC manager challenging his demotion and reassignment for having a sexual relationship with a bargaining unit employee who reported to him. Although the supervisor made a big mistake and likely deserved the demotion as MSPB ultimately ruled, we felt bad for him because the Board identified him by name in a case that will be available on-line to the world for years and years to come. But our response was closer to outrage on behalf of the female employee he slept with because the Board also published her name along with the facts of their affair, their intimate e-mails, and other salacious details. So, both of these employees will have the intimate details on the world wide web forever for their parents, kids, grandkids, spouses, neighbors, co-workers, etc. to page through. Why? Because that is the way MSPB has always done it. Is there an alternative that would protect employee privacy, especially that of victims. Yes, the EEOC implemented it over a year ago.

In recognition of the fact that its decisions often report embarrassing facts about employees who filed appeals as well as other employees involved with the incident under examination, the EEOC decided to substitute a randomly selected pseudonym for the name of the employee filing the appeal when it publishes the case for public review. In fact, if you look at the name of the Complainant on the first page of every decision you will see a footnote next to it that refers you to the following text: “This case has been randomly assigned a pseudonym which will replace Complainant’s name when the decision is published to non-parties and the Commission’s website.” When the decision explains the actions of a particular employee, the employee is identified only by a designation, e.g., “S(1)” typically refers to Supervisor #1.

It is time that MSPB followed EEOC’s lead to protect employee privacy. No matter how justified an employee’s punishment may be, even termination, the worst penalty, need not be fatal to an employee’s future employment prospects. However, if MSPB hoists the lurid details of an employee’s one-time misbehavior atop its web site for all to see forever, it is doing likely far more damage to the employee than the termination.

We hope that the various federal sector labor unions will come together to jointly petition MSPB to adopt the same rules as EEOC has. Today, information is forever and often universally accessible. Consequently, the Board and all other feds have to reconsider how they handle it.

(We are not including a citation to this case lest we add to the harm done the employees in this case.)

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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