Claim for Severance Pay

B-197428: Jun 5, 1980

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A former employee requested reconsideration of his claim for severance pay which was disallowed by the Claims Division. The employee was separated from employment because he refused an order to report for a temporary assignment to another commuting area. Believing that he was needed in his existing position and that relocation of his home and family would be a hardship, the employee appealed the decision to reassign him. Although he acknowledged that the area of temporary assignment was shorthanded, he objected to the temporary detail. He was advised that failure to report for the temporary duty would result in his being placed on absence without leave. The employee requested a 30-day leave of absence in lieu of the temporary assignment and refused to report for the temporary duty when this was denied. As a result, the employee was discharged from employment. Regulations provide that an employee's separation for declining an assignment to another commuting area satisfies the statutory requirement for severance pay because the separation is an involuntary separation not by removal for cause on charges of misconduct, delinquency, or inefficiency. Under the law assignment to another commutng area is limited to a permanent change of station directed by the employing agency. In this case, a 1 month temporary detail was required, not a permanent transfer. Consequently, the Claims Division disallowance of severance pay was sustained.