To Err Is Not Human for Demoted Postal Supervisor

Federal Court rules Postal Supervisor’s discipline for timekeeping error too harsh

Here are facts taken from the recent case:

In January of 2005, Judy Texeira was supervisor of five window clerks and several floor clerks, and she was also finance supervisor at the Modesto Main Post Office. She had been a supervisor for about seven years, a postal employee for about nineteen years, and had no prior record of misconduct.

On January 26, however, Texeira incorrectly posted 160 hours of annual leave for an employee she was supervising. The employee had not yet earned the leave, never earned it, and later returned the leave pay to the agency. When the agency learned about and investigated Texeira’s incorrect timekeeping entry, the manager of customer service at the Modesto Main Post Office served her with a notice of removal from federal service. The initial charge was a simple statement that she had incorrectly posted the unearned leave for an employee she was supervising. That notice of removal was revised on August 2, 2005 with a more detailed description of the conduct involved in her incorrect posting of annual leave, including a listing of several Postal Service rules and regulations that she allegedly had violated. The notice stated: Charge: Unacceptable Conduct: Falsification in Recording Time/Failure to Follow Proper Timekeeping Procedures.

When Texeira protested, the agency selected as its decisionmaker on the matter Richard Sarno, Human Resources Manager of the Sacramento District. Sarno conducted his own investigation and then on September 19, 2005 issued his Letter of Decision. He found the August 2 charges Afully supported by the evidence. In his decision on discipline, he wrote and highlighted that removal from federal service would be too severe He decided instead to reduce her in grade and pay to a part-time position at the much smaller postal facility in Ripon, California.

The court affirmed that part of the Board’s final decision that upheld the Postal Service’s charge that Ms. Texeira failed to follow proper timekeeping procedures, but vacated the Board’s final decision that upheld the Postal Service’s penalty of demotion to a part-time position on that charge. The case was remanded so an appropriate penalty can be imposed based only on the improper timekeeping charge.

Texeira vs USPS (PDF)