NFFE Legal Team Helps Locals Win Major Cases


Although they oftentimes work behind the scenes, NFFE-IAM members should know that NFFE’s Councils and Locals are supported by an in-house legal team. NFFE’s legal team is widely respected in the federal employment legal sector – recognized as tireless fighters for NFFE-IAM members. The NFFE legal team has a deep wealth of knowledge to supplement Council and Local officers in providing NFFE-IAM dues-paying members with the best representation in federal workplace disputes.

NFFE has three recent notable legal victories that include protecting employees from infringements on collective bargaining and from workplace retaliation. 

Recently, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of NFFE in a lawsuit that sought to overturn a decision the VA Secretary. In 2014, the Secretary issued a ruling that NFFE did not have the right to bargain anything related to overtime using a legal loophole by which the VA can designate some issues as relating to Professional Conduct and Competence and therefore outside the scope of collective bargaining. The NFFE VA Council and NFFE Local 1138 working with the NFFE Legal department filed the lawsuit and argued that the Secretary’s decision was arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with law. The Court wrote that “because the 7422 decision does not reflect reasoned decision making, it is arbitrary and capricious.” Although the decision is narrow in scope, it provides NFFE and other VA unions a good first step is pushing back against the VA’s attempts to erode the scope of collective bargaining through an arbitrary application of the law.

In two back-to-back cases, NFFE successfully challenged discipline of bargaining unit employees that was found to constitute retaliation of filing grievances and engaging in protected union activity. On August 17, 2015 an Administrative Judge from the Merit Systems Protection Board ruled in favor of a bargaining unit employee at Fort Irwin, who is represented by NFFE Local 2035, who had been terminated for various conduct. The Judge found that the Army failed to prove every single charge brought against the employee and in addition found that “Appellant proved her affirmative defenses of retaliation for participation in Union/grievance activities, and for engaging in EEO activities.” The Judge reinstated her with full back pay. Also on August 17, 2015, an arbitrator overturned the 30 day suspension of the NFFE Local 2199 Local President. The Arbitrator found that the 30-day suspension constituted a violation of 5 U.S.C. 7101, which the Arbitrator found “protects Union activity, i.e., Union activity is not to be the basis for discipline.” The employee will receive full back-pay.

“We take pride working closely with our Councils, Locals and Business Representatives to ensure that employees are treated in a fair manner in accordance with the law and collective bargaining agreements,” said NFFE General Counsel Stefan Sutich. “Our work is made possible by the excellent union representatives around the country providing their bargaining unit quality representation. That is once again reflected in our most recent victories.”