Court Upholds Postal Supervisor’s Demotion For Altering TimeKeeping Records

The Appeals court has upheld the demotion of a Postal Customer Services Supervisor, EAS-17 for altering timekeeping records.

According to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals:

Prior to his demotion in October 2005, Richard Davis was Supervisor, Customer Services, EAS-17, responsible for supervising mail carriers at the Burlington Station in Knoxville, Tennessee. One of his tasks as a supervisor was to ensure that all mail carriers returned to the station by 5:00 p.m. each day. Under the agency’s timekeeping system, every mail carrier would “clock in” upon returning to the station, creating a daily “clock ring entry” indicating the exact time of his or her return.

A June 2005 review of timekeeping records revealed that  Davis was responsible for a high number of changes in his subordinates’ clock ring entries. In each instance, it was determined, Davis had changed the return time from after 5:00 p.m. to exactly 5:00 p.m. or some time before that, in order to comply with the agency’s target deadline. Davis made seventeen such clock ring alterations, substantially more than any other supervisor.

As a result of its investigation, the agency demoted Davis for unsatisfactory work performance for improperly altering his subordinates’ clock ring entries. Davis appealed his demotion to the Board. Following a hearing, the administrative judge to whom the appeal was assigned issued an initial decision in which he sustained the agency’s action.

Based upon the evidence presented to him, the AJ concluded that the agency had met its burden on all three criteria. First, the AJ found preponderant evidence of Mr. Davis’s unsatisfactory work performance due to his improper clock ring alterations. Davis testified that the clock ring alterations in question were in fact proper because he only made them when a mail carrier had actually returned before 5:00 p.m. but did not clock in until after that deadline. The AJ was not persuaded by this claim, which contradicted separate testimony by mail carrier witnesses who stated that “as a matter of course, they clocked in when they returned.”

Davis asserted disparate treatment. His claim is that, while several allegedly similarly situated supervisors also engaged in questionable clock ring adjustments, he was the only one demoted. We reject this argument. Davis was not similarly situated to the other supervisors since he had committed a substantially greater number of questionable clock ring adjustments. For example, it was determined that Davis made seventeen questionable changes, while the next highest total for any supervisor in the area was ten.

The court determined that “since Mr. Davis had abused his supervisory authority to manipulate important agency data the demotion” was justified.

Davis vs. USPS (PDF)