652 Appeal Procedures

652.1 Scope

Part 652 establishes appeal procedures for employees not subject to the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement. These procedures do not:

  1. Deprive an employee of the right to a remedy for an allegation of discrimination through equal employment opportunity procedures or
  2. Deprive a preference eligible or other entitled employee of the right to appeal an adverse action to the MSPB. When MSPB rights are exercised, the employee waives access to the appeal procedures in 652.2.

652.2 Appeal of Adverse Actions

652.21 Coverage

Upon receipt of a letter of decision ordering an adverse action, the following employees may appeal:

  1. All nonprobationary EAS and PCES Level I employees.
  2. EAS, and PCES Level I employees who have completed a minimum of 12 months of combined service, without a break of a workday, in positions in the same line of work in the Civil Service and the Postal Service — unless any part of this service followed a temporary appointment in the competitive service with a definite time limitation.
652.22 Exclusion

Officers (PCES Level II) are not covered by these procedures.

652.23 Appeal to Step 1
652.231 Headquarters, Headquarters Field Units, and Field Employees

These employees may submit a written request for a hearing, or waiver of a hearing, within 15 calendar days of receipt of a letter of decision on an adverse action. This appeal is made to the Step 1 official (Headquarters vice president Labor Relations or designee). A copy of the appeal is sent by the appellant to the official taking the action, who forwards the case file to the Step 1 official.

652.232 Inspection Service Employees

These employees may submit a written request for a hearing, or waiver of a hearing, to the Step 1 official (Chief Postal Inspector, or designee) within 15 calendar days of receipt of a letter of decision on an adverse action. A copy is sent by the appellant to the official taking the action, who forwards the file to the Step 1 official.

652.233 Exceptions

In cases where a vice president or other officer reporting directly to the Postmaster General (PMG) is the deciding official, the PMG or designee is the sole appellate official. These exceptions apply to both 652.231 and 652.232.

652.24 Hearings
652.241 Action If No Hearing Requested

If the appellant does not request a hearing, the Step 1 official determines whether the issues on appeal can be decided on the record and on written submissions by the appellant and management. If the issues on appeal can be decided on the record and on written submissions, the Step 1 official will issue a final decision letter within 21 calendar days of receipt of the Step 1 appeal. If the appeal cannot be judged fairly without a hearing, the Step 1 official arranges for a hearing to be scheduled as described in 652.242.

652.242 Action When Hearing Requested
  1. If the appellant requests a hearing, a neutral hearing officer is assigned by the Step 1 official within 10 calendar days of receipt of a request for a hearing. The hearing is held as soon as possible, but no later than 75 calendar days from the date the hearing officer is assigned. The hearing is usually conducted at the installation or office where the appellant is located. The hearing officer will provide the parties notice of the hearing schedule as soon as possible but in no event shall the employee receive less than 14 calendar days’ notice of the hearing.
  2. Before the hearing, both management and the appellant will advise the hearing officer of their choice of representative witnesses and the nature of their testimony. All relevant documents and witness information, not already exchanged, will be exchanged between both parties as directed by the hearing officer.
  3. Conduct of the hearing is informal but consistent with the orderly presentation of the case. Testimony is given under oath or affirmation. While legal rules of evidence do not apply, testimony and evidence are held within reasonable bounds of relevancy. The appellant and the employer have the right (1) to be present at the hearing, (2) to be represented, (3) to present evidence and witnesses, and (4) to cross-examine the other party’s witnesses. The appellant, if in a duty status, and his or her representative, if a postal employee in a duty status, are granted a reasonable amount of official time to prepare for the hearing. The appellant may choose self–representation.
652.243 Management Obligation for Witnesses

Management has an obligation to make available witnesses who are postal employees and approved by the hearing officer as having relevant testimony, unless it is administratively impractical to do so. In these cases, witnesses may be required by the hearing officer to answer written questions or testify via a alternative means.

652.244 Workhours Compensation

Postal Service employees are compensated for any straight–time hours spent at the hearing that are part of their regularly scheduled workday if they are in a duty status at the time of the hearing. These employees include the appellant, the appellant’s representative, and approved witnesses. Witnesses are not present at the hearing except when testifying, unless they are also acting as a representative. Only one Postal Service employee acting as a representative of the appellant will be compensated by the Postal Service.

652.245 Noninterference Rule

The appellant, representative, and witnesses shall not be subject to restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.

652.246 Transcript

Normally, a court reporter or other qualified person will make a written transcript of the hearing proceedings. The hearing officer will arrange for the transcription. The office or installation initiating the adverse action will pay all costs of the transcription. If a written transcript cannot be obtained because of geographical remoteness or other unusual circumstances, an exception to the procedures must be authorized in advance by the Step 1 official.

652.247 Attorney Fees

Attorney fees are not applicable to appeals covered in 650.

652.25 Post Hearing
652.251 Hearing Officer Action

The hearing officer prepares a proposed decision to include findings of fact and a determination whether the charge(s) is/are sustained. The hearing officer forwards the proposed decision, the transcript of the hearing, and all other records regarding the appeal to the Step 1 official within 30 calendar days following the hearing.

652.252 Step 1 Official Action

Upon receipt of the hearing officer’s proposed decision, the Step 1 official reviews it and the case file to determine if the hearing officer’s proposed decision will be accepted or rejected. The Step 1 official will determine if the hearing officer’s proposed decision:

  1. Is supported by the facts of the case;
  2. Is in accordance with postal regulations or with postal policy; and
  3. In Office of Inspector General cases, complies with Office of Inspector General policy.

If the Step 1 official determines the hearing officer’s proposed decision is inconsistent with the facts of the case or is not in accordance with postal regulations or with postal policy and/or Office of Inspector General policy as applicable, the Step 1 official may reject the hearing officer’s proposed decision and issue a final decision which is in accordance with the aforementioned criteria. The Step 1 official will issue a final decision letter either accepting or rejecting the hearing officer’s proposed decision within 21 calendar days of receipt of the file. If the hearing officer’s proposed decision is rejected by the Step 1 official, the final decision letter will provide explanations for rejecting of the hearing officer’s proposed decision. The decision of the Step 1 official is the final decision, and there are no further appeal rights. The final decision letter will be transmitted to the employee with a copy to the employing office for any necessary implementation. A copy of the written transcript of the hearing will be enclosed with the final decision.

652.3 Appeal of Letters of Warning in Lieu of Time–off Suspensions

The employee may appeal the letter of decision in writing within 15 calendar days of receipt. If the employee is assigned to Headquarters or a Headquarters field unit or is in the Inspection Service, or if an area vice president is the deciding official in an action taken, the request is directed to the vice president of Labor Relations at the address shown in the letter of decision. If the employee is assigned to a field installation, the request is directed to the area Human Resources manager at the address shown in the letter of decision. The review of the appeal is based solely on the record, and there is no opportunity for the employee or his or her representative to meet with the reviewing official. The reviewing official issues a written decision, and there is no further right of administrative appeal.

652.4 Other Appealable Actions

652.41 Coverage

Employees in EAS-17 and below, regardless of length of service, may appeal letters of warning, emergency placement in a nonduty status, and other matters not covered by 652.2 by using the procedures in 652.42 through 652.44.

PCES Level I, and EAS-18 and above employees have access to these procedures only to appeal discipline in the nature of a letter of warning and emergency placement in a nonduty status.

652.42 Step A

An employee or representative states the appeal in writing to the immediate supervisor within 10 calendar days of learning the appeal’s cause. The employee or representative has the opportunity to discuss the appeal with the supervisor during this period. The supervisor gives a written decision within 10 calendar days after receipt of appeal. If this timeframe is impossible because of extenuating circumstances, the decision must explain the reason(s) for the delay.

652.43 Step B

A field employee or representative may submit a written appeal to the installation head within seven calendar days after receipt of the Step A decision. (If the installation head is the immediate supervisor, appeals are made to the next higher level of management.) A Headquarters, Headquarters field unit, or Inspection Service employee or representative may appeal within the same time limits to the next higher level of management (superior to the supervisor), at minimum, a manager or above. The appeal must include the employee’s name, title, grade, location, nature of appeal, and basis for appeal. Upon receipt of the appeal, the Step B official discusses the appeal with the employee or representative and renders a decision in writing within 10 calendar days after receipt of the appeal. Usually this decision is final.

652.44 Review

The employee or representative may request a review of the Step B decision. The request of an employee administratively responsible to the area vice president is directed to the area Human Resources manager. The request of a Headquarters, Headquarters field unit, or Inspection Service employee is sent to the vice president of Labor Relations, or designee, with a copy to the Step B official, who forwards the file to the reviewing official. The request is in writing and gives specific reasons why the employee believes the Step B decision should be reviewed. The request is made within 15 calendar days from receipt of the Step B decision. The reviewing official replies in writing and states the disposition of the employee’s request. This reply is final.

652.5 Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Postal Service supports the use of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process of mediation to address employee appeals relating to nonbargaining disciplinary actions. Participation in mediation by an appellant is voluntary.

652.51 Exceptions

Mediation may not be appropriate in cases where the charges involve egregious misconduct, criminal activity, repeated misconduct, inability to perform, and other conduct as determined by the Postal Service. Additionally, mediation may not be appropriate where the appeal concerns issues beyond the control of the Postal Service, such as the denial of Workers’ Compensation benefits, retirement eligibility determinations, and similar matters adjudicated by other agencies. The determination of whether to grant mediation in a particular case is within the discretion of the Postal Service.

652.52 Mediation

Mediation programs will be implemented by area offices under guidelines issued by the manager, National EEO Compliance and Appeals Programs.

652.53 Mediation for Letters of Warning in Lieu of Time–off Suspensions and/or for Time–off Suspensions

An employee issued a proposed letter of warning in lieu of a time–off suspension, or a time–off suspension in Office of Inspector General cases, may request mediation as an alternative to his/her right to respond to the deciding official as outlined in 651.64. If no resolution is reached between the employee and the proposing official as a result of the mediation, the employee may submit written responses to the proposed letter of warning in lieu of a time–off suspension within 10 calendar days of the mediation to the deciding official. The deciding official will issue a letter of decision regarding the proposed action in accordance with 651.65. The employee may appeal the decision pursuant to 652.3.

652.54 Mediation for Adverse Actions

An employee issued a written notice of proposed adverse action may request mediation as an alternative to the traditional written and/or verbal response to the deciding official as outlined in 651.74. If no resolution is reached between the employee and the proposing official as a result of the mediation, the employee may submit written responses to the proposed adverse action within 10 calendar days of the mediation to the deciding official. The deciding official will issue a letter of decision regarding the proposed action in accordance with 651.75. The employee may appeal the decision pursuant to the provisions outlined in 652.2, which will be outlined in the letter.