Former VA director wins U.S. appeals case relating to wait-time scandal
- By FederalSoup Staff
- May 09, 2017
A former director of the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix linked to the VA wait time scandal has won a victory in federal court concerning her termination.
The U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit, on May 9, ruled that Sharon M. Helman can appeal her dismissal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, despite her criminal conviction in a separate court case.
Helman was fired in November 2014 following the scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care and secret lists covering up the delays, and was sentenced to probation in federal court after previously pleading guilty to making false statements regarding the scandal.
She later sued the VA on the grounds that her wait-time scandal case was unconstitutional and denied her the opportunity to appeal her firing because of procedures under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act that prevented MSPB from hearing her case.
The opinion shuts down a provision in the law that expedites the removal of VA executives found guilty of misconduct or gross incompetence.
The court agreed with Helman that the provision violated the Constitution's so-called "appointments clause" by giving too much power with an administrative judge.
“We remand for the MSPB to take appropriate action on Ms. Helman’s petition for review of the administrative judge’s initial decision,” the opinion states.