Agencies often use these generic charges and then go on to describe the problematic conduct within a Notice of Proposed Removal or other adverse action. When an Agency charges an employee with a generic charge such as Conduct Unbecoming or Improper Conduct, an agency is required to demonstrate that the employee engaged in the underlying conduct alleged in support of the broad label to sustain the charge. See Canada v. Dept of Homeland Security, 113 M.S.P.R. 509, ¶ 9 (2010). The conduct must also be actual misconduct, meaning that an agency cannot discipline a federal employee for conduct that is not actually unbecoming or improper.
Often times, sexual harassment or related sexual misconduct is labeled as improper conduct. When an agency does this, to sustain the charge it need not show that the conduct would have been a violation of Title VII (which prohibits sexual harassment); rather, the agency just has to show that the employee acted in the inappropriate manner described in the Notice.
If you or someone you know has been charged with conduct unbecoming or of inappropriate conduct, contact us today.
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