THE SETTLEMENT MOTIVATION
One reason managers fail to settle grievances early is that they are unaware of the risks. Although it would help everyone if agency leaders made them aware of the risk, unions carry some of the blame for this gap in management’s development. We should be publicizing widely any disputes that went all the way through litigation and produced a big win for the employee, but that could have been settled much earlier if the local managers worked at it. For example, a court decision just came out giving the employee $550 for having suffered sexual harassment from his female supervisor, but awarded $350,000 to the employee’s attorney for the complex work he did. While federal sector managers rarely are personally liable for damages and agencies rarely seem to hold managers accountable for LR/ER blunders, decisions this breath-taking will one day change all that–if we publicize them among members and managers. Virtually no manager cares if he/she violates the contract or law; they only focus on the potential remedy. The more aggressive the remedy the union requests, the more motivated management should feel the need to lower its risk by settling. In cases of discrimination like this, the union can potentially get each of the following remedies in the federal sector:
- A cease and desist order,
- A finding of discrimination,
- Back pay for any compensation or benefit denied because of the discrimination,
- Compensatory damages up to $300,000 for an individual employee,
- An order that the offending manager be disciplined, and
- An order that management train all managers in the law.