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Probable Cause Not Required for Bureau of Prisons to Indefinitely Suspend Employees

Former Bureau of Prisons (BOP) counselor Norberto Perez appealed an arbitrator's ruling confirming his 2004 indefinite suspension from the BOP. The ruling was affirmed on appeal.

The suspension came after a prisoner claimed Perez had sold him drugs, which was supported by an FBI report. The 30 day notice and subsequent suspension that Perez received was in compliance with § 7513(b)(1), which requires "at least 30 days advance written notice, unless there is reasonable cause to believe the employee has committed a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed...." Perez grieved the action, arguing that reasonable cause was required under the statute. The arbitrator denied the grievance and Perez appealed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that Perez had misconstrued the statute, and that reasonable cause was only required for notice of less than 30 days. The appellate court noted that Perez could challenge the decision under 5 U.S.C. § 7513(d), which applies to suspensions of more than 14 days. See: Perez v. Department of Justice, 480 F.3d 1309 (Fed. Cir. 2007), rehearing en banc denied.

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