January 6, 2021 | NAAE Case Study “Go Back To College”

Attention Bargaining Unit Members, as part of an ongoing series, NAAE is publishing case studies involving some of the progress made over the past few years. Stay tuned, there’s more to come…


NAAE convinced an arbitrator and then the FLRA that the Agency had violated a long-standing OPM legal principle, and thus the law, when it revoked the promotion it had granted a PPQ employee to a non-supervisory GS-12 position. The Agency claimed it had to rescind the promotion because, in its view, the employee was not qualified for his current position, much less for the GS-12 position, because he was not qualified when hired. It claimed he lacked several hours of college credits in the sciences needed at the time of his hiring as a GS-5 some 20 years earlier, even though he had taken all the science courses Agency officials had told him at the time were the prerequisites to being hired. That OPM legal principle the Agency ignored is one of common sense and fairness: an agency cannot look back to the date of hire to question an employee’s educational qualifications at that time and then claim, after the fact and after promoting him and assigning him to his new position, that his initial educational deficiencies rendered the employee not qualified for his current position. Rejecting the Agency’s claim that the PPQ employee had to go back to college to pick up his credits in order to keep his current job, the FLRA ordered the Agency to promote the employee retroactively, with back pay, to the date of his original selection for the GS-12 vacancy and pay NAAE’s legal fees. That blunder cost the Agency tens of thousands of dollars.