[JURIST] The Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) [official website] on Wednesday ordered [opinion, PDF] the US Department of the Interior (DOI) [official website] to reinstate Teresa Chambers as U.S. Park Police chief after determining her termination was unjustified. The MSPB ruled that Chambers was wrongly discharged in December 2003 for discussing with a Washington Post [official website] reporter that the US Park Police Service [official website] was in need of additional resources. The board ordered the government to reinstate Chambers within 20 days and to pay her the amount owed, including interest and legal fees, within 60 days of the decision. The opinion states,
Because we find, as set forth below, that the agency did not meet its burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that it would have placed the appellant on administrative leave and removed her in the absence of her disclosures, and that the agency would in fact have taken no action against the appellant in the absence of her protected disclosures, we need not address whether removal is a reasonable penalty in light of the dismissal of charge two by the court.The DOI has not yet stated whether or not they plan to appeal the decision.
In 2005 Chambers filed a complaint [text, PDF; JURIST report] against the DOI claiming that it illegally destroyed documents regarding her employment as Chief of Police of the US Park Police Force. Chambers claimed that the performance evaluations, which would show that the charges relating to her December 2003 forced resignation were fabricated, have been destroyed. Chambers initially filed a complaint in January 2004 with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) [official website] alleging that her placement on administrative leave constituted reprisal. The administrative judge dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and Chambers subsequently petitioned for judicial review with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [official website].