A dispute over the misuse of a government vehicle has led to a four-year-battle by the Energy Department to fire Stephen Patrick. During most of that time Patrick has sat home or at a desk doing nothing collecting his government pay, The Washington Post
Patrick, 43, had worked as a $47,000-a-year courier of nuclear materials for the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration out of a site in Oak Ridge, Tenn. On a layover on a run to New Mexico in July 2007, Patrick took a 340-mile side trip to meet a friend for dinner without approval. He was suspended for 30 days, the Post reported.
What followed was a series of appeals, charges and counter charges, psychological evaluations, firings, wins, losses, and an offer to drop the appeals and give up the job for a settlement of $250,000.
Patrick was first out of work without pay but his pay was reinstated after a win. He eventually returned to work, sitting at a desk doing nothing while waiting to be recertified to be a courier, the Post reported.
However, another round of appeals sent Patrick home again and he stayed on the payroll while the case went to the special counsel’s office.
Associate Special Counsel William Reukauf concluded in August that Patrick’s “lengthy indefinite suspensions” were a violation of federal personnel rules, the Post reported.
“Rarely would an employee have the stamina or perseverance . . . to endure 13 months without pay, prevail on the merits and then endure again a potentially endless cycle of recertification, denial and indefinite suspension,” Reukauf wrote, according to the Post.
Patrick has been promised back pay but another hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31 to determine whether he will be allowed to guard nuclear materials. Meanwhile, he is at home collecting a paycheck, the Post reported.
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