EEOC finds federal employee was not regarded as disabled by employing agency. Petitioner filed, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a petition for review of a decision issued by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB issued a decision finding no disability discrimination. The Petitioner alleged he was discriminated against on the basis of disability (regarded as having a mental disability) when he was terminated from his position of rural letter carrier. The record revealed the Petitioner was viewed by many at the Agency as “uncontrollable”, and possessing an “unpredictable, explosive personality” (erupting into fits of anger, screaming profanities and invading other’s space), and as a result the Agency proposed to remove the Petitioner on the charge of improper conduct. Following a hearing, the MPSB Administrative Judge (AJ) issued an initial decision finding no discrimination, reasoning that the Petitioner was not an individual with a disability in that his personality disorder was not an impairment which limited a major life activity, he did not have a record of a disability, and was not regarded as having a disability. The AJ further found that even assuming Petitioner was an individual with a disability, he still failed to prove disability discrimination because the Agency was not required to excuse Petitioner’s disruptive conduct. Petitioner then petitioned the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) for reconsideration.

On reconsideration the OFO held that assuming the Petitioner is an individual with a disability, there still was no discrimination from the Agency. Petitioner’s argument that he is only “regarded as having a disability” runs counter to any finding that the alleged misconduct was a manifestation of a disability. The OFO further held that putting such contradictory arguments aside, the Agency can still hold Petitioner to the same conduct standards it applies to all other employees, as it did in this case. The OFO concurred with the final decision of the MSPB finding no discrimination.

Brent E. House v. United States Postal Service, EEOC Petition No. 0320080115 (October 23, 2008) https://www.eeoc.gov/sites/default/files/migrated_files/decisions/0320080115.txt

Federal employee attorney Kirk J. Angel represents clients in proceedings before the MSPB and EEOC as well as EEO investigations throughout the nation.