The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) recently upheld an arbitrator’s decision which found discrimination due to protected union activities and age in U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 121, 62 FLRA No. 80 (May 14, 2008), and awarded the grievant a retroactive promotion with back pay and attorney fees to the union. The FLRA decision is significant because it upheld a rare finding by an arbitrator of anti-union animus in violation of 5 USC 7116(a)(2) and will result in additional attorney fees for successfully opposing the agency’s exceptions to the FLRA. The arbitrator noted that the grievant, a union steward, had been denied a promotion for an Electrician Leader position after having filed numerous grievances and EEO complaints and was given a lower performance rating “… to make [the grievant’s] candidacy for promotion less viable and to retaliate for his protected challenges to supervisory authority.” The arbitrator rejected the agency’s asserted legitimate reasons for not selecting the grievant and found them to be pretext for unlawful discrimination as he had served as the acting Electrician Leader in the past without incident.
PROTECTING WORKERS’ RIGHTS
Focusing on the Rights of Federal Employees