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Graves v. Office of Employee Appeals

August 22, 2002

MARVIN L. GRAVES, APPELLANT
v.
OFFICE OF EMPLOYEE APPEALS AND DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (MPA-15-98) (Hon. A. Franklin Burgess, Jr., Trial Judge)

Before Terry, Ruiz, and Reid, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terry, Associate Judge

Argued November 9, 2000

Appellant Graves seeks review of a trial court order affirming a decision of the Office of Employee Appeals ("OEA"). The OEA had ruled that Graves was properly removed from his job for being inexcusably absent without leave ("AWOL") for ten consecutive work days. From May 17, 1991, until at least June 4, 1991, Graves was AWOL from his position as a cook at a Department of Corrections ("DOC") facility. He did not then, nor does he now, offer any explanation for his absence. On August 2, 1991, fifty-three business days after May 17 and forty-five business days after May 30, Graves received a letter from the DOC, dated July 25, notifying him that the DOC intended to terminate his employment because of his unexcused absence.

Graves contends on appeal that the DOC was time-barred from removing him from his job, under the Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act (CMPA), because more than forty-five business days had elapsed between his initial absence on May 17 and his receipt of the notice of adverse action from the DOC on August 2. We find this argument without merit and affirm the order of the trial court.

I.

The relevant facts are undisputed. Graves was employed by the DOC as a cook at the District of Columbia Jail. On May 17, 1991, he failed to report for work and did not return to work, according to the OEA's findings of fact, until "an indeterminate date sometime after June 4, 1991." Graves did not have permission to be absent from work, nor did he contact anyone at the DOC to explain his absence. *fn1 Consequently, he was classified as absent without leave.

On July 25 the DOC mailed appellant notice of a proposed adverse action against him, which he received on August 2. The notice stated:

Pursuant to Title XVI of the Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act, this is an advance notice of at least thirty (30) calendar days of a proposal to remove you from your position of Correctional Cook with the D.C. Department of Corrections for the following cause:

Inexcusable Absence Without Leave

Absence from duty without permission which was charged to "absence without official leave:" To wit:

Ten (10) consecutive workdays or more.

The details in support of this proposal are as follows:

Reports received in this office revealed that you have been in an Absence Without Official Leave (AWOL) from May 17, 1991, to June 4, 1991. During the above period, you had not requested ...


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