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aji38  
#1 Posted : Friday, November 1, 2019 7:53:17 AM(UTC)
aji38

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Hello Everyone,

A few weeks ago I was suddenly placed on Administrative Leave, pending an investigation.

I was never told the reason, and honestly am not sure myself.

I've been told that I'll be called in for an interview, which I'm sure I'll be able to clear up any confusion during.

However, I'm confused by how the process itself will play out.

From what I've read, I'll be allowed both an oral and written reply to whatever the issue is.

Is this first interview going to count as my oral reply? Or following the investigation (my written interview included) and proposal (if any), will I be allowed both another oral reply and a first written reply?

Also, does anybody know what the format of this first interview will be like? Do I want to refer to the Douglas Factors for my responses?

This is all new and unexpected, so just trying to emerge unscathed if possible by making sure I take the right approach at addressing everything.

Thank you for any advice.
DroneBee  
#2 Posted : Sunday, November 3, 2019 10:22:01 AM(UTC)

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I'd advise hiring an attorney because the investigation may be a criminal offense. Are you sure you are placed on administrative leave https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/6329a instead of investigative leave https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/6329b ? From what I understand, administrative leave can only be for 10 days, an investigative leave can be for 30 days (with added extensions as needed).

God Bless.
aji38  
#3 Posted : Sunday, November 3, 2019 10:27:41 AM(UTC)
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Hi DroneBee,

Thanks for the response.

The letter does indeed state that it is Administrative Leave, and then I haven't heard anything since. Maybe they switched it after 10 days and didn't inform me.

I'd be shocked if it was a criminal offense, but I also don't know what the offense is so I'm unsure of how to go to an attorney and ask for representation for an unknown problem.

It seems like I'm not even going to be told the issue until the moment I'm being interviewed about it, which seems like it isn't following all of the documentation I've read regarding these sorts of things.

Definitely a tough and confusing time.

Edited by user Sunday, November 3, 2019 10:28:22 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

DroneBee  
#4 Posted : Monday, November 4, 2019 4:59:07 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: aji38 Go to Quoted Post
It seems like I'm not even going to be told the issue until the moment I'm being interviewed about it...


I think you should consult with an attorney and not walk into any interview without representation.

https://www.opm.gov/poli...ts/administrative-leave/
"Placing an employee in a paid, non-duty status is an immediate, temporary solution to the problem of an employee who should be kept away from the worksite. For example, an agency may place an employee in a paid, non-duty status during an investigation and when the agency believes the employee poses a threat to his own safety or the safety of others, the agency mission, or Government systems or property while the investigation is pending."

Someone believes that you need to be kept away from the office - I would not walk but run to get legal help.

I have no recommendations for you regarding an attorney - but I found this website https://www.whitecollarc...al-employee-defense.html which may be helpful - again, I cannot recommend this site or any other site.

God Bless.
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aji38 on 11/4/2019(UTC)
frankgonzalez  
#5 Posted : Monday, November 4, 2019 5:27:24 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: aji38 Go to Quoted Post
Hello Everyone,

A few weeks ago I was suddenly placed on Administrative Leave, pending an investigation.

I was never told the reason, and honestly am not sure myself.

I've been told that I'll be called in for an interview, which I'm sure I'll be able to clear up any confusion during.

However, I'm confused by how the process itself will play out.

From what I've read, I'll be allowed both an oral and written reply to whatever the issue is.

Is this first interview going to count as my oral reply? Or following the investigation (my written interview included) and proposal (if any), will I be allowed both another oral reply and a first written reply?

Also, does anybody know what the format of this first interview will be like? Do I want to refer to the Douglas Factors for my responses?

This is all new and unexpected, so just trying to emerge unscathed if possible by making sure I take the right approach at addressing everything.

Thank you for any advice.
It seems like you are confusing the investigation and the adverse actions procedures.

The investigation is just that. You will be interviewed (probably recorded) and given a chance to respond to the allegations. Typically, the accused is the last person interviewed (to save going back and forth as they talk to witnesses, etc). Know your Weingarten rights if you are in the bargaining unit...and insist on them.

If, as a result of the investigation, you are subject to an adverse action (suspension, termination, etc), then you will be given an opportunity to see the evidence used against you in order to respond in-person and/or in writing. At this stage you need to understand the Douglas Factors used by the proposing and deciding officials so you can ensure any mitigating factors weigh in your favor and are part of the record and the same in regard to any aggravating factors.

DronBee's advice isn't bad, and at least a conversation with a lawyer couldn't hurt at this stage.

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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aji38 on 11/4/2019(UTC)
aji38  
#6 Posted : Monday, November 4, 2019 7:09:16 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: DroneBee Go to Quoted Post

I think you should consult with an attorney and not walk into any interview without representation.

https://www.opm.gov/poli...ts/administrative-leave/
"Placing an employee in a paid, non-duty status is an immediate, temporary solution to the problem of an employee who should be kept away from the worksite. For example, an agency may place an employee in a paid, non-duty status during an investigation and when the agency believes the employee poses a threat to his own safety or the safety of others, the agency mission, or Government systems or property while the investigation is pending."

Someone believes that you need to be kept away from the office - I would not walk but run to get legal help.

I have no recommendations for you regarding an attorney - but I found this website https://www.whitecollarc...al-employee-defense.html which may be helpful - again, I cannot recommend this site or any other site.

God Bless.


Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
It seems like you are confusing the investigation and the adverse actions procedures.

The investigation is just that. You will be interviewed (probably recorded) and given a chance to respond to the allegations. Typically, the accused is the last person interviewed (to save going back and forth as they talk to witnesses, etc). Know your Weingarten rights if you are in the bargaining unit...and insist on them.

If, as a result of the investigation, you are subject to an adverse action (suspension, termination, etc), then you will be given an opportunity to see the evidence used against you in order to respond in-person and/or in writing. At this stage you need to understand the Douglas Factors used by the proposing and deciding officials so you can ensure any mitigating factors weigh in your favor and are part of the record and the same in regard to any aggravating factors.

DronBee's advice isn't bad, and at least a conversation with a lawyer couldn't hurt at this stage.


Really appreciate the responses from both of you.

Having read through a ton of documentation, the fact that it is Administrative Leave is concerning. I have done some research regarding lawyers, so I reach out to one and see what they say.

@frankgonzalez, even though I would have the opportunity to address the Douglas Factors after a proposed action if there is one, I'm guessing I still want to do my best to cover them in the interview stage as well?

frankgonzalez  
#7 Posted : Monday, November 4, 2019 8:25:21 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: aji38 Go to Quoted Post
Really appreciate the responses from both of you.

Having read through a ton of documentation, the fact that it is Administrative Leave is concerning. I have done some research regarding lawyers, so I reach out to one and see what they say.

@frankgonzalez, even though I would have the opportunity to address the Douglas Factors after a proposed action if there is one, I'm guessing I still want to do my best to cover them in the interview stage as well?

As you were placed on Admin Leave, I would guess the alleged offense(s) you are being investigated for are very serious and potentially involve violence in some fashion. I would be focused on addressing the allegations and clearing my name in the investigation and not be worried about the Douglas factors personally.

IF the investigation results in adverse action, then focus on the Douglas Factors and what evidence they are using to propose the action.

Horse, then Cart. If the investigation shows you didn't do what you were accused of, then the Douglas Factors are not even relevant.

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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aji38 on 11/5/2019(UTC)
Hawaiiannative  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, November 5, 2019 6:04:22 PM(UTC)
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Don't count on the union to help you. My former coworkers stated that I was violent and that they were afraid of me. The fact that it was complete lies was irrelevant.

They will investigate how they want, and come up with the results that "they" want. HR is not your friend. Getting an attorney at this point may not be the way to go, usually they tell you what the investigation is about...but say nothing, because anything that you say will be construed as "defensive". Isn't that nice? You are accused and investigated, but if you state that you did not engage in that behavior, you are again, twisted into being "aggressive".

Good luck. I think that the die is already cast here. Start looking for other jobs, because nothing gets better from this situation. Been there, done that.
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aji38 on 11/7/2019(UTC)
aji38  
#9 Posted : Tuesday, November 5, 2019 8:18:33 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Hawaiiannative Go to Quoted Post
Don't count on the union to help you. My former coworkers stated that I was violent and that they were afraid of me. The fact that it was complete lies was irrelevant.

They will investigate how they want, and come up with the results that "they" want. HR is not your friend. Getting an attorney at this point may not be the way to go, usually they tell you what the investigation is about...but say nothing, because anything that you say will be construed as "defensive". Isn't that nice? You are accused and investigated, but if you state that you did not engage in that behavior, you are again, twisted into being "aggressive".

Good luck. I think that the die is already cast here. Start looking for other jobs, because nothing gets better from this situation. Been there, done that.


Wow, that's a mess. I'm one of the calmest people possible, so I can't imagine that it's a violence complaint at play though. I guess someone could have made something up.

As far as looking for other jobs, wouldn't "progressive discipline" make the worst possible outcome a suspension if I'm somehow unable to convince the investigator?

Just crazy all around.
frankgonzalez  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, November 6, 2019 4:10:40 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: aji38 Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Hawaiiannative Go to Quoted Post
Don't count on the union to help you. My former coworkers stated that I was violent and that they were afraid of me. The fact that it was complete lies was irrelevant.

They will investigate how they want, and come up with the results that "they" want. HR is not your friend. Getting an attorney at this point may not be the way to go, usually they tell you what the investigation is about...but say nothing, because anything that you say will be construed as "defensive". Isn't that nice? You are accused and investigated, but if you state that you did not engage in that behavior, you are again, twisted into being "aggressive".

Good luck. I think that the die is already cast here. Start looking for other jobs, because nothing gets better from this situation. Been there, done that.


Wow, that's a mess. I'm one of the calmest people possible, so I can't imagine that it's a violence complaint at play though. I guess someone could have made something up.

As far as looking for other jobs, wouldn't "progressive discipline" make the worst possible outcome a suspension if I'm somehow unable to convince the investigator?

Just crazy all around.
Forget the term "progressive discipline." That is only applicable if you have received previous discipline action and they consider what to do for the current issue. Pretty much all discipline charts include termination for a first offence as a possibility for the proposing official to consider. And the courts (and MSPB) have never over-ruled a termination simply because of "progressive discipline." Otherwise, you could lie, cheat, steal, beat up a coworker, etc and only be reprimanded or suspended?

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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aji38 on 11/7/2019(UTC)
aji38  
#11 Posted : Thursday, November 7, 2019 7:05:21 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
Forget the term "progressive discipline." That is only applicable if you have received previous discipline action and they consider what to do for the current issue. Pretty much all discipline charts include termination for a first offence as a possibility for the proposing official to consider. And the courts (and MSPB) have never over-ruled a termination simply because of "progressive discipline." Otherwise, you could lie, cheat, steal, beat up a coworker, etc and only be reprimanded or suspended?


Definitely makes sense. Do they usually still try to follow the below guidance though:

"Generally, the objective of discipline is to correct deficiencies in employee conduct and
performance, not to punish the employee. Discipline can deter misconduct and correct
situations interfering with the efficiency of civil service."

Or should I be expecting that their desired outcome is removal whenever one of these investigations occur?
frankgonzalez  
#12 Posted : Thursday, November 7, 2019 7:58:57 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: aji38 Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
Forget the term "progressive discipline." That is only applicable if you have received previous discipline action and they consider what to do for the current issue. Pretty much all discipline charts include termination for a first offence as a possibility for the proposing official to consider. And the courts (and MSPB) have never over-ruled a termination simply because of "progressive discipline." Otherwise, you could lie, cheat, steal, beat up a coworker, etc and only be reprimanded or suspended?


Definitely makes sense. Do they usually still try to follow the below guidance though:

"Generally, the objective of discipline is to correct deficiencies in employee conduct and
performance, not to punish the employee. Discipline can deter misconduct and correct
situations interfering with the efficiency of civil service."

Or should I be expecting that their desired outcome is removal whenever one of these investigations occur?
Without knowing the allegation, etc, no-one here can tell you the desired outcome. Sometimes the process is simply do the investigation, have evidence the issue is not what was alleged, then maybe counsel the employee once they are back at work. Sometimes, the allegations are only the tip of the iceberg, and the investigation discovers even worse issues, and termination and criminal charges follow.

ie. Person is accused of computer abuse because they were spotted searching hotels in Hawaii. Investigation discovers the person was trying to find a hotel that would house a team who were headed there for training, and they were trying to find something where the whole team would be in one hotel at the gov rate. No issue.

Or, person is accused of computer abuse because they were seen searching hotels in Thailand. They said it was for a mission need (see above example), but during the investigation, porn is discovered on the computer, some which appears to be child porn and there was no such training going to occur in Thailand and the employee lied to investigators when interviewed. Termination and criminal charges filed.



You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
DroneBee  
#13 Posted : Thursday, November 14, 2019 3:53:23 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: aji38 Go to Quoted Post
Definitely makes sense. Do they usually still try to follow the below guidance though:

"Generally, the objective of discipline is to correct deficiencies in employee conduct and
performance, not to punish the employee. Discipline can deter misconduct and correct
situations interfering with the efficiency of civil service."

Or should I be expecting that their desired outcome is removal whenever one of these investigations occur?


Do not believe this quote - the agency will protect the agency to the point of coercing witnesses, creating documents, etc. You are in SERIOUS trouble of removal or worse. The agency does not want to "correct" anything - the agency has removed you from the office, and now will remove you from the agency. If the offense is criminal, the agency may prosecute.

God Bless.

nightchop  
#14 Posted : Thursday, November 14, 2019 10:04:41 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: aji38 Go to Quoted Post
Or should I be expecting that their desired outcome is removal whenever one of these investigations occur?



Yes. Creating paper trails and involving multiple parties takes a lot of time, money, and effort. They are not doing it for fun.

Piggybacking on DroneBee's comments - the agency wants to "correct" the mistake they made (in their eyes) by hiring you, instead of correcting a bigger mistake by disciplining or getting rid of higher-level managers who may be unqualified, poorly trained or generally unfit for the position they were hired into. To admit this bigger mistake implies that someone (or multiple someones) higher in the chain of command had poor judgment, and the agency's ego will do anything to prevent admitting such. Besides, it will cost them a lot more if evidence shows their managers (who are the agency as far as the law is concerned) have broken the law. It's just easier to get rid of low-hanging fruit.

With that being said, protect yourself and do what you have to do. Best of luck to you.
Giventofly  
#15 Posted : Sunday, November 17, 2019 11:33:18 PM(UTC)
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Any update on what this crazy thing you did but have no knowledge of is? Hoping you’ve gotten an answer! So sorry you’re going thru this!
aji38  
#16 Posted : Friday, November 22, 2019 7:38:21 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Giventofly Go to Quoted Post
Any update on what this crazy thing you did but have no knowledge of is? Hoping you’ve gotten an answer! So sorry you’re going thru this!


Definitely appreciate the well wishes from everyone.

Unfortunately still no word back on anything.
Hawaiiannative  
#17 Posted : Friday, November 22, 2019 10:51:09 AM(UTC)
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Of course not, these "investigations" go on forever. I had one that went on for over a year. Unfortunately, I guess that they couldn't find enough dirt to fire me, so they upped the abuse and retailiation.
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DroneBee on 11/23/2019(UTC)
mallen  
#18 Posted : Friday, November 29, 2019 8:40:48 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: aji38 Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Giventofly Go to Quoted Post
Any update on what this crazy thing you did but have no knowledge of is? Hoping you’ve gotten an answer! So sorry you’re going thru this!


Definitely appreciate the well wishes from everyone.

Unfortunately still no word back on anything.


Get a lawyer. ASAP. And start looking for a new job. The second most egregious thing you can do to a manager is exercise your rights and say "No, you can't do that.The Most egregious transgression is to say "No, you can't do that", be be right, back it up with the law or with regulations and MAKE them back down. Do that and they will make your life a living hell until you quit or they find or invent a reason to fire you. It sucks, but that's the hard cold reality.
emrlddragon  
#19 Posted : Saturday, December 7, 2019 7:46:41 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Hawaiiannative Go to Quoted Post
Of course not, these "investigations" go on forever. I had one that went on for over a year. Unfortunately, I guess that they couldn't find enough dirt to fire me, so they upped the abuse and retailiation.


Same thing happened to me. My supervisor was already retaliating for my EEO complaint (that didn't even involve her!) and when she could not find ANYTHING on me, she started fabricating scenarios and situations to MAKE me fail. Ridiculous stuff like 2 day suspense for a project that was unreasonable based on the scope- BUT I got it done and then she turned around and gave me another. After that happened for several weeks, she and my second line supervisor found out I was offered another job and I'd be leaving the office... that is when the 2 of them started falsifying statements and documents to propose a reprimand. These 2 supervisors misrepresented the truth and made false statements, which is all documented. I presented the documentation to "defend" the proposed reprimand but it didn't matter because one of them was the proposing official and the other the deciding- so they made sure they had control over that process.
Their behavior as senior management in our organization is not only unprofessional, it is unethical. The senior leadership in our organization has turned a blind eye and allowed the retaliation, even with numerous witnesses and more documentation than any one person should ever have to present.
Coming forward in any complaint is not easy, the process is purposely confusing and the retaliation is accepted in an effort to break the employee and make them quit or get them fired.
I refuse to be broken, I've been pressing forward. Doing the right thing will never be rewarded but there is no other option but to stand up for myself.
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