Chapter Grievances
NTEU Chapter 282

Flexiplace Grievance
Posted June 26, 2003

On 27 Oct 00, a Flexiplace Grievance was filed against the Detroit District Office. Arbitration hearings were held on 19 Sep 02, and 6 and 7 Mar 03. The award was issued on 11 Jun 03. Representing NTEU was Jeanne Wood. Representing FDA was Nelson Cabrera, Jr. The Arbitrator was Paul E. Glendon.

Before the effective date of the Contract, several FDA Detroit District employees had Flexiplace Agreements. On 10 Oct 00, Detroit District Director Raymond Mlecko unilaterally terminated these agreements. Among the reasons given for termination were: "certain types of jobs are more amenable to working at home"; inadequate office coverage; cost of flexiplace; "office interaction...is an important way for new CSOs to gain knowledge and for experienced employees to continue to grow and learn new skills from their peers"'; "compliance officers require daily interactions" and "face to face contact is routinely necessary". In the 10 Oct 00 memorandum, Detroit District Director Raymond Mlecko also denied several (new) requests for Flexiplace Agreements. The reasons given were similar to the termination reasons: inspections could not be conducted from an alternative work site; "adequate office coverage"; "budgetary constraints"; and the appreciation of "office interactions that occurs when employees...work at the office."

In short, there was a failure of proof on the part of FDA. FDA failed to show that it had terminated the Agreements in effect prior to the Contract for good cause or that the new requests had been denied for good cause. Those new Flexiplace requests which the arbitrator did not grant were not approved because the requests were not for regular, recurring opportunities to work at home.

The Arbitrator ordered immediate reinstatement of the terminated Flexiplace Agreements and approved and ordered immediate implementation of the new Flexiplace requests for regular and recurring work at an alternative location.