MSPB Reverses Its Decision In Case of Postal Manager’s Demotion

The Postal Serviced demoted Gregg Giannantonio from EAS-21 Arizona District Manager of Statistical Programs to EAS-17 Customer Services Analyst based on a charge of “failure to meet the duties and responsibilities of your position.” Giannantonio filed an appeal. After holding a hearing and considering the evidence, the administrative judge (AJ) reversed Giannantonio’s “demotion under Stone v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 179 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1999), on the basis” that the Postal Service “had denied him due process because the deciding official engaged in prohibited ex parte communications (phrase that generally refers to action taken without notice to the adverse party or participation by that party in the hearing).” Despite reversing the Postal Service’s action, the AJ made “an alternative finding that even if the agency’s action did not violate the appellant’s fundamental due process guarantees under the standard set forth . . . in Stone, the deciding official . . . failed to consider specific mitigating factors and his penalty determination far exceeded the bounds of reasonableness.”The AJ proceeded to find that the Postal Service proved the charge, and that discipline for the sustained charge promoted the efficiency of the service, but that the maximum reasonable penalty was a letter of warning.

In short, MSPB overstepped its legal authority in reducing the demotion to a letter of warning.

MSPB ruled that USPS must cancel the demotion action and to restore the appellant effective January 19, 2008.

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