EEOC finds no discrimination for federal employee denied early retirement.  Complainant filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of disability when he was not allowed to participate in early retirement options. Complainant applied for disability retirement and made a “statement of disability” labeling him fully disabled as he was unable to walk without assistance and indicated there were no accommodations that would allow him to continue working. Around the same time the Agency offered a Special Incentive Offer (SIO) and a Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) option. Complainant was excluded for the SIO as a person with a disability, and from VER because although he was 50 years old but did not have 20 years of service. Complainant was informed that if he wanted to take advantage of the SIO program he would have to withdraw his disability application, which he failed to do. Following the initial investigation, the Administrative Judge (AJ) held that Complainant had failed to establish that he was a qualified individual with a disability, noting that his assertion that he was unable to perform his duties with an accommodation precluded him from that category. In sum, the AJ found that the record was devoid of any evidence from which one could reasonably conclude that Complainant was discriminatorily denied VER or a Special Incentive Offer because of his disability. The Agency then issued a Final Decision finding that Complainant failed to prove the Agency subjected him to discrimination. The Complainant appealed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

On appeal, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) first looked at whether it was appropriate for the AJ to issue a summary judgment decision. Finding that the record had been adequately developed, the parties engaged in discovery, and Complainant had an opportunity to respond to the Agency’s motion for summary judgment, the OFO held that summary judgment was appropriate in this case. The OFO further held that even viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the Complainant, a reasonable fact-finder would not find in favor of the Complainant because he was simply not qualified for any of the programs offered, and was unable to show that the Agency’s actions were based on discrimination. The OFO affirmed the Agency’s final order finding no discrimination.

Jared F. v. United States Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 0120150299 (April 10, 2017) https://www.eeoc.gov/sites/default/files/migrated_files/decisions/0120150299.txt

Attorney Kirk J. Angel represents federal employees in EEO claims and EEOC hearings throughout the nation. If you are a federal employee, set your free 15 minute consultation today.