Garcia v. Dep't of Homeland Sec., No. 14-3048 (Fed. Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security issued a final decision removing Garcia from the U.S. Border Patrol for misconduct. Garcia received notice the same day. Under 5 U.S.C. 7121(e)(1), Garcia had the option to appeal his removal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) or to invoke arbitration, under his union’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Article 34 of the CBA states that in cases involving adverse actions, such as removal, requests for arbitration “must be filed . . . not later than thirty (30) calendar days after the effective date of the action.” His union mailed a letter to the Agency requesting arbitration 28 days after the effective date of Garcia’s removal. The Agency did not receive this request until seven days later. After an arbitrator was appointed, the Agency moved to dismiss. The Arbitrator found the plain meaning of “filed” in the CBA requires actual receipt of the request for arbitration, relying on the definition of “file” used in federal court proceedings. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that the request for arbitration need only be mailed within the 30-day time period.