Palmquist v. Shinseki, No. 11-2110 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Palmquist, a veteran, injured in a helicopter crash that caused residual brain injury, was entitled to preference in federal employment, 5 U.S.C. 2108(3)(C), 3309(1), 3313(2)(A). The VA hired him as a medical support assistant. Aichner was his supervisor. Palmquist applied for promotion but did not receive an interview. He believed that the VA had not honored his preference, and told Aichner that he was going to complain to the equal employment opportunity specialist and his congressman. He did so. Aichner and Palmquist maintained a generally positive relationship for the next two years, but Palmquist was sometimes preoccupied, left the unit during working hours to do personal business, distracted other employees, and used his computer for personal purposes. Palmquist sought a new position. An interview went well. Interviewers warned Palmquist against unsolicited post-interview contact, but he e-mailed both to reiterate his qualifications. Aichner gave a generally favorable recommendation, but the recommendation was one factor in Palmquist not getting the job. The court rejected his claim under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701-796. The First Circuit affirmed. The Act does not entitle a plaintiff to relief when retaliation for complaints about disability discrimination is a motivating factor in, but not the “but-for” cause of, adverse employment action.