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United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
October 13, 1976, Argued ; April 26, 1977, Decided
[*704] TAMM, Circuit Judge:
This appeal raises various constitutional challenges to the involuntary termination of a federal employee unprotected by our civil-service laws. The district court dismissed the employee's complaint seeking injunctive [*705] and declaratory relief after the submission [**2] of affidavits and a brief hearing. Treating the district court's disposition as an award of summary judgment for the government, we reverse for the reasons discussed below.
From August 13, 1973, until his involuntary termination on July 10, 1975, our appellant, Stanley C. Mazaleski, was a Reserve Commissioned Officer in the United States Public Health Service (Service or PHS). Hired as a scientist, and possessing a Ph.D. degree, appellant was assigned to the position of criteria manager in the Criteria Development Branch of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 1 where his duties included the performance of certain chemical analyses and the preparation of recommendations for NIOSH safeguards to protect industrial workers exposed to carcinogenic chemicals.
[**3] From the outset appellant had difficulty completing his duties to the satisfaction of his superiors. The reasons offered by the parties to explain this problem differ dramatically. Appellant claims that the malfeasance of NIOSH management, and of his immediate supervisor in particular, prevented him from conscientiously performing his duties. 2 The Service, on the other hand, proffers a portrait of appellant that generally depicts him as uncooperative, dilatory and professionally ineffective. See Appellees' Brief at 2-7.
[**4] The confrontation, which had been brewing for some time, 3 [**5] finally erupted on June 3, 1974 when appellant filed an informal grievance against his supervisor, 4 apparently in response to the latter's threat to have him fired. A few days thereafter, the supervisor wrote a memorandum "for the record" detailing what he considered to be appellant's very poor job performance and occasionally irascible demeanor. At the direction of NIOSH management, he also submitted a special Commissioned Officers' Efficiency and Progress Report on appellant (Progress Report), which appellant considered "extremely derogatory." 5 Appellant's Brief at 3. Appellant claims that he was never even apprised of the contents of his supervisor's memorandum, id., although the PHS maintains that a copy was sent to him. 6 He apparently did see the contents of the special Progress Report, however.
[*706] On August 1, 1974, appellee Treusdell, Director of PHS's Commissioned Personnel Operations Division (CPOD), appointed a senior commissioned officer [**6] of the Service to investigate appellant's charges and to make written findings and recommendations. Six weeks later, the investigating officer concluded his inquiry and recommended: (1) that all charges be dismissed as unsupported by the facts; (2) that communications between NIOSH supervisors and employees be improved; (3) that the special Progress Report submitted by the supervisor be withdrawn as "totally inappropriate"; 7 (4) that appellant be transferred to new duties, if possible; and (5) that appellant should not be prejudiced in any way for having filed the grievance. The investigating officer also concluded that appellant's difficulties within NIOSH did not justify his dismissal at that time. Appellees' App. at 16-19.
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562 F.2d 701 *; 1977 U.S. App. LEXIS 13675 **; 183 U.S. App. D.C. 182
Stanley C. MAZALESKI, Appellant, v. Dale H. TREUSDELL, Individually and in his capacity as Director, Commissioned Personnel Operations Division, Public Health Service Department of Health, Education and Welfare, et al.
Subsequent History: [**1] Rehearing Denied June 27, 1977.
Prior History: Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Civil 75-0917).
termination, Personnel, Commissioned, reasons, regulations, recommendations, charges, summary judgment, notice, sub-standard, district court, evidentiary hearing, notified, property interest, deprived, circumstances, Involuntary, proceedings, Progress, contest, rights, reputation, infringe, marginal, involuntary termination, officer's performance, specific ground, own regulation, unsatisfactory, protections
Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, General Overview, Governments, Federal Government, Employees & Officials, Labor & Employment Law, Employee Privacy, Constitutional Protections, Disclosure of Employee Information, Public Employees, Administrative Law, Prohibition of Disclosure, Specific Exemptions Allowing Disclosure, Routine Use, Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Genuine Disputes, Materiality of Facts, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Labor Arbitration, Agency Adjudication, Review of Initial Decisions