Claim Based on Salary Protection Benefits
B-200817: Apr 27, 1981
- Full Report:
The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asked for a decision concerning an employee's backpay claim. PATCO contended that the employee suffered an unjustified or unwarranted personnel action entitling him to backpay because FAA misinformed him about salary protection benefits incident to a change to a lower grade. The employee applied for a transfer and a change to a lower grade under a program providing salary protection for employees changed to a lower grade. Unaware of changes made in the law relating to the protection of employees who are downgraded, FAA erroneously informed the employee that he was entitled to pay savings benefits which would have allowed him to continue to receive the rate he was receiving before the downgrading plus full comparabilty increases in that rate for up to 2 years. About 5 months after the employee's reassignment, FAA became aware that the employee was entitled only to the pay retention benefits under the changes in the applicable law. Thereupon, the employee's pay was adjusted in accordance with these changes retroactive to the effective date of the employee's last comparability increase. PATCO contended that the employee was induced by the erroneous information to accept the change to a lower grade and that he was entitled to have his pay adjusted and his pay savings continued in accordance with the repealed sections of the applicable law. While FAA acknowledged that the employee was misinformed, it asserted that there had been no unjustified or unwarranted personnel action within the purview of the Back Pay Act, and that it had no alternative but to apply the new law which was in effect at the time of the employee's downgrading. GAO found no unjustified or unwarranted personnel action and no entitlement to backpay under the applicable law and regulations. It was mandatory under the law to apply the salary protection benefits in effect at the time of the action in question. It was held that FAA properly adjusted the employee's pay in accordance with the applicable law and that he was not entitled to any backpay.