Attorney Debra D'Agostino – a Founding Partner in the Federal Employment Law Practice at The Federal Practice Group – was quoted in today's issue of The Washington Post. The article –Thousands of Federal Workers on Extended Paid Leave – is a featured front page political piece. It discusses the large numbers of federal workers being kept on paid leave for extended periods of time while awaiting disciplinary punishment or clearance to return to work.
According to the article, over 57,000 employees were sent home for at least one month during a three-year period that ended in fall of 2013. The extensive use of administrative leave amongst federal employees has received considerable scrutiny and criticism, particularly because it conflicts with government personnel rules that limit paid leave only to rare circumstances where workers may post a threat. Many have expressed concerns over the costs of this practice.
Attorney D'Agostino was mentioned in the article during a discussion of her work representing one federal employee who was facing disciplinary action. The man – who worked with computers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Alaska – was placed on administrative leave while his case was under investigation. After six months of paid leave, he was cleared and returned to work. Attorney D'Agostino commented that her client has been "stuck in the inertia of bureaucracy."
In commenting on the article, Ms. D'Agostino said, "It's important that the rights of federal employees accused of misconduct are protected, especially when a federal employee's job is on the line. While the use of administrative leave allows for the federal government to ensure no federal employees are wrongfully deprived of income and benefits, nobody wins when the government leaves an employee on administrative leave for months, or even years. This time is incredibly stressful, and there is no reason why these misconduct investigations or decision processes should drag on and on if the proper groundwork has been laid before any disciplinary action is taken."
As an experienced federal employment lawyer and founding partner at The Federal Practice Group, Debra D'Agostino is often asked by major publications to share her insight and legal opinion on important issues. Attorney D'Agostino has also written a number of published legal articles. You can read the full Washington Post article here.