National Park Service Ordered To Reinstate Sitka National Historical Park Superintendent

National Park Service officials, who fired the superintendent of Sitka National Historical Park in 2010 because she refused a transfer, have been ordered to reinstate her with back pay.

The ruling, handed down by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board last week, was welcomed by the superintendent, Mary Miller.

“I am so grateful to my family, friends, colleagues and members of the community who have supported me throughout this arduous process. This decision has restored my faith in the system and I’m looking forward to getting back to work to continue building agency relations with the community,” Ms. Miller said in a prepared statement.

The 8-page ruling revolved around the Park Service's decision in 2010 to shift Superintendent Miller from the historical park in Sitka, Alaska, to a new position as Alaska Native Affairs Liaison in Anchorage, 500 miles away.

But the superintendent, who had been at the historical park for three years, said such a transfer would prove a hardship to her, that she was not qualified for the role, and that the impending removal of her from Sitka National Historical Park was '“tainted by discrimination”' based on her race, sex, and physical disability."

In response, the Park Service fired her in August 2010, found a person to serve as the liaison and another to take over the superintendency at Sitka National Historical Park.

In gathering testimony on Ms. Miller's appeal of that decision, the Merit Board heard from the Park Service how it "had a high regard for the appellant’s performance as the superintendent in Sitka. Indeed, agency witnesses testified that the agency relied upon the appellant’s strengths and accomplishments as a Superintendent as the basis for directing her reassignment to the Liaison position in Anchorage," the board noted.

Furthermore, it added in its ruling, "we find that it did not promote the efficiency of the service to direct the appellant to take the position in Anchorage against her will and to remove her from employment altogether when she declined the position. As a result of the agency’s actions, it lost an apparently valued and successful employee, and created two vacancies that the agency had to fill after her removal."

The board did not examine whether the reassignment "was tainted by discrimination," as Ms. Miller alleged, noting that she did not prove that claim during an initial hearing before an administrative judge.

The Park Service has until April 21 to reinstate Ms. Miller as superintendent of the historical park.

Comments

Amother case of judicial over reach.

While I recognize that I fail to possess the pseudo-intellectual capabilities required to be An Instant Critical Expert On Everything, and that I actually know nothing about this beyond what I have read here, may I suggest the possibility that this might also be a case of delayed justice finally being provided?

You can suggest anything you like but in my opinion the employer employee relationship is an d should be at will. this is just another example of the third party interference that many have lamented here before. Give somebody a job and let them do it. If you don't like the job they are doing, don't interfere, just get rid of them.

If it were overeach, I suppose it could be at most quasi-judicial overreach.

I'll give you that, Justin.

Alaska has a "covenant of good faith and fair dealing exception" to their "at will" laws. That may be why the firing was not done properly.

The ruling is specifically within the jurisdiction of the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Per Wikipedia:

"The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is an independent quasi-judicial agency established to protect federal merit systems against partisan political and other prohibited personnel practices and to ensure adequate protection for federal employees against abuses by agency management. More specifically, when an employee of most Executive Branch agencies is separated from his or her position, or suspended for more than 14 work days, the employee can request that an employee of MSPB conduct a hearing into the matter."

It can't really be an overreach based on one person's minority opinion on what an employer-employee relationship should be.

mmm. you mean there is some, albeit far removed, form of oversight for Jarvis and his retribution squad? That is great.

To ecbuck and his 'judicial over reach' comment: I agree with Lee Dalton, your 'instant expertise' to make legal pronouncements is truly amazing considering you have absolutely no knowledge of the facts or law regarding this case. Further, while you like to cite to the rule of 'at will' employment, you fail to mention that it is patently illegal to fire someone both under Alaska state law, and United States law for impermissible reasons like racial animus. 'At will' does not mean you are authorized to "get rid of" people because you don't like Black people, Jews, Native Americans, or any other minority for that matter [and note, if you knew anything about Ms. Miller's case or read the MSPB decision, you would know she was fully successful in her work at the Park ... there was never any evidence that the Park Service 'didn't like the job' she was doing ... that is why the MSPB unanimously reversed their illogical decision to dismiss her from her post]. The law of the United States is: if you fire someone for an impermissible reason, that person has the right to challenge the basis of the dismissal in a court of law ... if this bothers you as "Third Party Interference" with the Employer/Employee relationship, perhaps you should move someplace like Nazi Germany where you can just 'get rid of' anybody for any reason ... with special dispensation to get rid of somebody if you don't like their race or national origin. However, for your sake, I would advise against moving from the United States ... where else could you enjoy such freedom to shoot your mouth off about topics you know nothing about?

Judge

Perhaps you missed this statement in the article:


The board did not examine whether the reassignment "was tainted by discrimination"


Her "reinstatement" had nothing to do with being part of a protected class.

I'm curious - now that you've had a chance to actually read up on this situation, do you still think it is 'judicial overreach' to do the specific job that the board was created to do?

I believe that managers should do what they deem best and if their superiors (not some quasi-judicial board) don't agree, then those managers should be replaced. You hire a person to do a job. If you like what they are doing, you reward them. If you don't, you replace them. You don't second quess every move they make.

ec, you're fired!

Lee - too bad you aren't my superior.

Yup. But how long would it take for you to start appealing or screaming in frustrated anger? By your apparent standard, anyone fired from a job whether justly or unjustly should simply accept it and go cheerfully smiling into another day. Would you -- or could you?

I would and I have. And you know what, despite being eligible for unemployment benefits - I didn't take them. Nor did I sue anyone.

Would and have what? Of course in many states being fired for just cause makes one ineligible for unemployment benefits and lawsuits are pretty much out of the question when one has been fired for a justified cause. So you must have realized that your case was lost from the start, eh?

I have been been let go without cause. I was eligible for unemployment and didn't apply. My case was not "lost" as there was no case. I was hired at will and let go at will. I didn't kick and screem or sue, I moved on and improved my life.

Congratulations. Although it sounds as if you accepted the job understanding that to be a condition of employment. On the other hand, I can't believe that had the situation been different, you'd have quietly gone off with a big smile. Should we return to the days when in many states, cities, and even the nation public employees would not register to vote because they knew that if the other party was elected to office, they'd be out of a job if they had registered as one of the enemy? Wasn't that one of the major reasons behind civil service laws?

Some of us actually believe in something called "justice." A treasured value that is unfortunately lacking in too many circles these days. Political patronage is evil, isn't it? Or is it another of those values held dear by those who seek absolute power to enhance their corruption?

Have a happy evening.


Although it sounds as if you accepted the job understanding that to be a condition of employment.


Of course I did. It (employment at will) is (or should be) the condition of every job.


Political patronage is evil, isn't it?


Do you have any evidence this is a case of "political patronage"? Or, like most your arguments, is this just a strawman?

I did not say that this was a case of patronage. Just pointing out that it was an evil practice. But I guess I'm just old fashioned and still believe in right and wrong and honesty and don't care to spend my time twisting and torturing what others say to try to prove a point that is possibly beyond comprehension.

Night, night, friend. Sleep well.


Just pointing out that it was an evil practice.


A point that had nothing to do with this thread. Oh, and BTW - I always sleep well.