Federal agencies, like other employers, try to maintain a work environment free from disruptions so that they and their employees can effectively carry out their missions. If the agency determines that an employee is disrupting the work environment, the agency may try to remove or otherwise discipline that employee for Disorderly Conduct.
An agency proves this charge by showing that (1) the employee engaged in inappropriate conduct; (2) that is disruptive; and (3) has no legitimate purpose. Intent is not an element of this offense and thus does not need to be proved by the agency. If the agency incorporates intent into the defense through the specification, however, then lack of intentor inability to form intent can be raised as defenses.
Typical defenses to this charge include showing that the agency did not prove that the alleged conduct occurred, that the proven conduct did not rise to the level of disorderly or disruptive, or that the disorder was actually created by the agency or other employees blowing a minor incident out of proportion. If the employee was engaging in protected conduct like engaging in EEO counseling or union activities then the agency must meet a higher standard of proof. A key penalty consideration will be the extent of the disruption caused by the employee’s conduct. In addition, the fact that employee was provoked can mitigate a penalty.
The attorneys at Melville Johnson, P.C. are highly experienced in MSPB and EEO matters such as these, and are willing and able to assist you in your federal employment legal matters.