Homes v. United States Postal Service, No. 19-1973 (Fed. Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Holmes began working for the USPS in 1989. An investigation revealed that another letter carrier, Baxter, was selling marijuana from Baxter’s postal truck. Surveillance video showed Holmes and other USPS employees engaged in transactions with Baxter while on duty. Baxter later admitted to selling marijuana from his USPS vehicle; six other letter carriers admitted to purchasing marijuana from Baxter. Holmes denied purchasing marijuana while on duty. The surveillance video showed two relevant interactions between Baxter and Holmes, while on duty.
At pre-disciplinary interviews, Holmes invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Following a Notice of Proposed Removal, Holmes met with the deciding official, Bush, and stated that he “wanted to apologize,” and that he “made this little mistake.” Bush issued a termination, explaining that removal was consistent with the penalties received by the other employees. Bush considered Holmes’s lengthy federal service and lack of disciplinary record but concluded that they did not outweigh the support for his removal. In five grievance arbitrations, the arbitrators mitigated the penalty to long-term suspension without back pay. Holmes instead appealed to the Merit System Protection Board, arguing that the agency had insufficient evidence to find that he purchased marijuana from Baxter.
The Board upheld his removal. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the removal was arbitrary or otherwise not in accordance with law; obtained without procedures required by law,; or unsupported by substantial evidence, 5 U.S.C. 7703(c)