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Can Federal Employees Be Suspended for Off-Duty Misconduct?

Federal employees frequently ask – can I be suspended for off-duty misconduct?

The short answer is yes, you can be suspended for off duty misconduct if there is a “nexus” or “connection” between your off-duty actions and the efficiency of the service.  There are several instances when off-duty conduct affects the efficiency of the service.

For instance, certain conduct is considered so egregious that a connection with the efficiency of the agency is presumed, i.e. violent criminal activity or sexual abuse of minors.  However, just because the conduct is illegal does not mean it is automatically egregious.

You can be suspended for off-duty conduct that adversely affects job performance, or the affects the Agency’s trust and confidence in your ability to perform your job.  For instance, if you receive an off-duty DUI and your work duties include operating a motor vehicle, this misconduct will be considered to impact job performance and the Agency’s trust and confidence.

You can be suspended for off-duty conduct that negatively affects the agency’s mission.  Many factors determine whether off-duty actions affect the agency’s mission.  However, conduct that occurred off-duty, but at a work-facility or work-related event will be considered to affect the agency’s mission.  Similarly, off-duty conduct that involves other federal employees or supervisors (i.e. most commonly affairs, inappropriate relationships, etc.) will provide a basis for discipline.  Or, actions for create negative publicity or cast the agency in a bad light will establish a connection to the efficiency of the service.

There are many different factors that play into whether off-duty misconduct can be the basis of disciplinary action.  It is best to speak to an attorney who can advise you based upon your specific situation. The lawyers of Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C. have successfully defended federal employees against proposed disciplinary actions, including removals and suspensions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to see how we can help.

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