The Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS) permits union participation at an employee examination conducted “by a representative of the agency” if the employee believes that the examination will result in disciplinary action and requests such representation. The NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) began investigating a government employee. An investigator from the OIG’s office interviewed the employee and, while a union representative was allowed to attend the interview, the representative’s participation was curtailed. Because of this limitation on the representative’s participation, the union filed an unfair labor charge with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).
Whether the NASA OIG investigator was a “representative” of NASA under the terms of the FSLMRS, so that the employee had a right to union representation during the interview?
Yes. The NASA OIG investigator qualified as a “representative” of NASA under the terms of the law.
The statute refers to “representatives of the agency,” and is not limited solely to those individuals who have management responsibilities. The term “representative” therefore includes OIG investigators of NASA. Because the employee was entitled to union representation, the investigator’s action in preventing active union representative participation was a violation of the FSLMRS.
527 U.S. 229, 119 S. Ct. 1979 (1999)