Legal Briefs: Northern disclosure,

Every Friday on, Legal Briefs reviews cases that involve, or provide valuable lessons to, federal managers. We report on the decisions of a wide range of review panels, including the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority and federal courts.

Valerie Morman, a sales cashier at the Defense Department's Fort Richardson, Alaska campus was having serious health problems, so she asked to be reassigned to an earlier, and less demanding morning shift. When her request was denied, Morman filed a complaint alleging discrimination due to her race, Alaskan native.

Soon after, Morman received a letter alleging that she was abusing the agency's leave policy. She added reprisal to her list of complaints.

Eventually, persistent health problems forced Morman to resign from her job. But when she found out she could have taken leave without pay instead, she asked to withdraw her resignation. The fort wouldn't allow her to stay because her job had already been filled by a part-time employee.

An administrative judge pointed out that full disclosure of alternatives to resignation, including leave without pay, is the agency's responsibility. The agency's failure to fully disclose Morman's options and its subsequent refusal to withdraw her resignation was retaliatory and discriminatory, the judge ruled.

DoD was ordered to give Morman her job back or find a comparable job for her.

Lesson:If you don't make sure employees know all of their options, you may regret it later.

Valerie G. Morman v. Department of Defense (01973349), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, May 17, 2000.

Customary Closing

Byron D. Cagle, a Treasury Department employee, sold his home in Woodbridge, Va. when he was transferred from his Washington, D.C., post to a job in Texas. Cagle's real estate agent told him that it was customary for the seller to help pay for some of the purchaser's closing costs.

Before he agreed, Cagle checked with his agency to make sure he could be reimbursed for such costs. The agency relocation office told him that if the charges were customary in his area, then they could be reimbursed.

Cagle's realtor produced documentation of sales of similar homes in his subdivision for the most recent six months. The data showed that in 58 out of 60 home sales, the seller had contributed to the buyer's closing costs.

But when Cagle asked to be reimbursed for the $3,386 in closing costs that he contributed, Treasury denied the claim. Treasury argued that helping pay for a buyer's closing costs may be common in Calgle's county, but that this does not make the practice customary. Instead, the practice is dictated by current market conditions, and is therefore temporary, the agency said.

So Cagle produced more data showing that 93 percent of home sellers in his region in the past four years paid for some of their buyers' closing costs.

The General Services Administration Board of Contract Appeals said enough was enough. Cagle met his burden of proof for showing that paying closing costs is customary where he lived, so he should be reimbursed, a judge ruled.

Lesson: If more than 90 percent of people are doing something, it's customary.

In the Matter of Byron D. Cagle (GSBCA 15218-RELO) GSBCA, April 28, 2000.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.