Not Quite Scrooge

At frst glance, it looked like the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department's Employment Standards Administration was spreading some Christmas jeer late last year.

In a recent newsletter, Local 12 of the American Federation of Government Employees reported that on Dec. 16, the division sent a notice to a 17-year veteran GS-5 employee saying the employee would be "removed from your position and the federal service on Dec. 24, 1996."

But before you start sending the division copies of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, note that the employee in question never received the firing notice. Why? According to the newsletter, "the employee was incarcerated at that time . . ."

Neither the union that published the story in their newsletter nor the agency would reveal why the employee was in jail or why she was fired. The union says only that the employee's incarceration was "unrelated to the GS-5 job."

According to Larry Drake, chief steward at Local 12, the agency's modus operandi is the same whether it's a major holiday or not. Management's response to every problem, he says, is "to throw a person out on the street." Drake also argues that lower-level African American employees at the agency are held to a different standard than management is.

The Employment Standards Administration said the Privacy Act prevents it from commenting on specific personnel actions.

"The Employment Standards Administration has a strong commitment to fair treatment of all its employees," said assistant Labor Secretary Bernard Anderson. "Disciplinary actions are based on the performance of individual employees and are not influenced by race, gender, or religious affiliation."

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