Over the years federal courts had developed a bizarre appeal? procedure for a federal? employee who filed a ?mixed case.? ?A ?mixed case? is one that combines an adverse personnel action serious enough to fall within the jurisdiction of the Merit Systems Protection Board (?MSPB?) along with a claim that the alleged action was discriminatory. If the MSPB dismissed the case on the merits, an employee had the right to file suit in federal district court. ?But if the MSPB dismissed the mixed case on procedural grounds, several circuits had said in that instance the employee must file an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Carolyn ?Kloeckner? was ?a? U.S. ?Department ?of Labor? (?US ?DOL?) ?employee? until ?her termination.?? She was fired for what she claimed was sex and age discrimination.? ?Prior to her termination, she had filed a civil rights complaint with the agency.? ?When the investigation went against her, she filed for a hearing in front of an EEOC ?administrative law? judge (?ALJ?).??? Once terminated, she filed with the MSPB.?? She then asked the MSPB to dismiss her case without prejudice to allow her to add the termination to the claim before the EEOC ALJ. ?The MSPB gave her leave to re-file if she did so by a certain date. Well after that date, the EEOC ALJ sent her case back to the US DOL for a determination and US DOL dismissed the case.?? She then appealed that dismissal to the MSPB.?? The MSPB denied her appeal ?on ?the ?basis ?that ?she ?was ?functionally moving to re-open her MSPB case after the deadline the agency had set.? ?Kloeckner then brought a claim in U.S. District Court.? ?The district ?court ?held ?that? Kloeckner ?should ?have filed her appeal of the MSPB decision in the Federal Circuit because it was a procedural dismissal.? The Eighth Circuit affirmed.
The Supreme Court unanimously reversed in an opinion by Justice Kagan.? ?The court held that the applicable statutes made the district court the proper?? venue?? for?? an? ?appeal? ?of?? an? ?MSPB dismissal ?in ?a ?mixed? case ?regardless ?of ?the reason for the dismissal.? The Court described the government?s arguments to the contrary as from ?an alternate universe.??? Eric Schnapper argued the case for Ms. Kloeckner.
Kloeckner v. Solis,? 133 S. Ct. 596 (12/10/12).