GSA appeals latest wrongful termination ruling

Tuesday - 3/11/2014, 3:02pm EDT

The General Services Administration has put former Region 7 Public Buildings Service Commissioner James Weller on paid administrative leave while it appeals the decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board that the agency terminated Weller without cause.

Weller won his wrongful termination case before the MSPB in February, but GSA decided to ask the board to relook at the decision by the administrative law judge.

During the appeal, GSA has decided to put Weller on paid leave.

"[T]he determination has been made that your return to and/or presence in the workplace would be unduly disruptive," wrote Sylvia Hernandez, acting Regional Administrator in Region 7, in a letter to Weller dated March 7. "Therefore, as provided by 5 USC 7701(b)(2), you are hereby placed on administrative leave, which is a non-duty statutorily required paid leave status."

Hernandez wrote that while on administrative leave Weller must request and receive approval for annual leave, sick leave or leave without pay.

An email to GSA asking about the decision to put Weller on leave while appealing MSPB's decision was not returned.

GSA fired Weller and three others PBS regional commissioners in 2012 as part of the fallout from the Western Regions Conference scandal. Weller and Paul Prouty appealed GSA's decision to MSPB.

The judge ruled that GSA's decision to fire Weller was without cause and ordered the agency to provide 19 months of back pay and reinstate him as Region 7 commissioner. GSA's decision to appeal to MSPB was not unexpected.

"Mr. Weller is disappointed with the agency's decision," said Alan Lescht, owner of Alan Lescht & Associates, P.C. and Weller's attorney. "He has been a dedicated public servant for many years and looks forward to returning to his job once the agency exhausts its appeals."

Weller became the second former GSA official to win on appeal to MSPB. Like Weller, GSA also put Prouty on paid administrative leave during the agency's appeal of the MSPB decision. That appeal has been going on now for almost a year.

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