Review of Disallowance of Environmental Differential Pay

B-197142: Feb 12, 1980

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An employee appealed a Claims Division disallowance of his claim for environmental differential pay. The issue in this case was whether the employing agency's determination that the employees do not meet the criteria to establish entitlement to environmental differential pay was in error. The Federal Personnel Manual (FPM) specifies that environmental differential is payable for certain categories of work only when protective measures have not practically elimimated the hazard, physical hardship, or working conditions of an unusually severe nature. It further provides for an eight percent wage differential for working with or in close proximity to poisons in situations for which the nature of the work does not require the individual to be in direct contact with, or exposure to, the more toxic agents described as highly hazardous wherein protective devices and/or safety measures have not practically eliminated the potential for personal injury. The authority to determine whether the assigned duties of an employee involve situations for which environmental differential is authorized is vested primarily in the agency concerned. GAO will not substitute its judgement for that of the agency officials who are in a better position to investigate and resolve the matter, unless clear and convincing evidence is found that the agency decision was wrong or that it was arbitrary and capricious. Therefore, the disallowance of the claim was sustained.