June 12 2012 FEA Legal UpdateJune 12, 2012 Legal Update- Overseas Allowances and Differentials for Domestic Partners of DoDEA Educators and their Dependents/ Shipment of 100 pounds of HHG in conjunction with RAT travel
To: FEA Leaders and Educators (For Immediate Distribution)
From: H.T. Nguyen, FEA Executive Director/ General Counsel
Re: June 12, 2012 Legal Update: Overseas Allowances and Differentials for Domestic Partners of DoDEA Educators and their Dependents/ Shipment of 100 pounds of HHG in conjunction with RAT travel
This is to update the bargaining unit on the June 19, 2012 DoDEA Director's Memorandum on overseas allowances and differentials for domestic partners of DoDEA educators and their dependents. The second issue concerns the June 1, 2012 DoDEA Director's Memorandum regarding DoDDS educators receiving full reimbursement for the cost of shipping 100 pounds of household goods (HHG), each way, in conjunction with RAT. Copies of both memos will be posted on the FEA website for your review at: http://www.feaonline.org/.
Overseas Allowances and Differentials for Domestic Partners of DoDEA Educators
- Background on this matter
FEA has been pushing DoD and DoDEA to grant all possible benefits to the domestic partners of DoDEA educators for several years. While some benefits, such as RAT, have recently been granted by DoDEA after significant efforts by the Association, overseas allowances and differentials (such as LQA and Post Allowance), for domestic partners of DoDEA educators and their dependents were not immediately granted by DoDEA. On June 19, 2012, DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald issued a memorandum granting these overseas allowances and differentials to the domestic partners of DoDEA educators and their dependents.
- What does this change for me and my domestic partner?
DoDEA educators who have domestic partners and their dependents who meet the definition and criteria laid out in the affidavit attached to the June 19, 2012 DoDEA Director's memorandum will be eligible to apply to receive these overseas allowances and differentials for their domestic partners and their dependents. Please note that the memorandum states that these benefits will also be paid retroactively to February 23, 2012, upon application and approval.
- Back Pay is Retroactive only to February 23, 2012?
As noted above, the June 19, 2012 DoDEA Director's memorandum states that the overseas allowances and differentials for domestic partners of DoDEA educators and their dependents will only be retroactive to February 23, 2012. FEA's position has always been that these benefits should have been granted by DoDEA from August 30, 2009, which was the effective date of the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) adding domestic partners.
Accordingly, the retroactive date that domestic partners of DoDEA educators and their dependents became eligible for overseas allowances and differentials will have to be resolved through litigation.
- What about ID Cards for Domestic Partners and Dependents?
FEA understands that obtaining ID cards for domestic partners of DoDEA educators and their dependents is a critical quality of life issue. FEA has been and will continue to make our case with DoD and DoDEA to take action on this issue. On June 6, FEA once again contacted DoD and renewed our request that DoD issue specific guidance to issue ID Cards for domestic partners of DoD civilian employees and their dependents.
FEA understands that, in some rare occasions, the base commander has issued ID cards to domestic partners of DoDEA educators and their dependents. This is the exception, and not the rule. In a recent case, the base took away an ID card on the grounds that the issuance was unauthorized. The Association is making every effort to convince DoD and DoDEA to provide ID cards for domestic partners of DoDEA educators and dependents. This is another issue that will have to be litigated if our efforts with DoD/DoDEA do not bear fruit soon.
- Other Related Matters
As you may be aware, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a decision on May 31, 2012 which held, in part, that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. You may read this decision at: http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/10-2204P-01A.pdf
FEA will continue to monitor developments with this decision and other similar decisions closely. It is widely anticipated by many legal scholars and analysts that this matter will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Once there is a final decision on this matter, FEA will use this and other related cases to obtain additional benefits for members.
Full Reimbursement of the shipment of 100 pounds, each way, of HHG with RAT travel
- Background on this matter
Several years ago, FEA learned that some bargaining unit educators, who elected to exercise their option to mail 100 pounds of household goods (HHG), each way, in conjunction with (ICW) their RAT travel, were not being fully reimbursed for the cost of such shipments. FEA immediately filed an Association Grievance on this matter on behalf of the whole bargaining unit. The relief sought was to obtain full reimbursement with interest for the shipment/mailing of 100 pounds of HHG, each way, ICW RAT, retroactive to school year 2005-2006.
- Latest Developments
FEA has spent significant time attempting to resolve this Association Grievance. After looking into the matter, the parties found that the problem was the result of the Travel Management Office's (TMO) interpretation of the regulations. While we were able to determine the problem rather readily, resolution has taken some time due to personnel turnover at DoDEA headquarters.
FEA President Michael Priser and I had a meeting at DoDEA headquarters in late May with the DoDEA Director and DoDEA HR Director Lenoir Graham in which Ms. Graham informed FEA that the problem would be resolved by removing the previous requirement of getting a letter from the TMO to ship these HHG. At that meeting, FEA reminded Ms. Graham that while this solution would remedy the issue prospectively, the parties still had to resolve the Association Grievance to allow DoDDS educators in the FEA bargaining unit to receive the retroactive full payment for the shipment/mailing of the 100 pounds, each way, of HHG ICW RAT, with interest.
As the June 1, 2012 DoDEA Director's memorandum stated that DoDDS educators do not need a letter from TMO in order to exercise your right to ship this 100 pounds, each way, of HHG in conjunction with your RAT, you may now ship these HHG on your own. However, when you do ship/mail these HHG, please be sure to retain all of your receipts. When you file for reimbursement after completing your RAT, simply attach these receipts and enter the cost of shipment of the 100 pounds, each way, of HHG on your voucher.
The Association Grievance filed by FEA seeks to obtain full reimbursement for the shipment/ mailing of 100 pounds, each way, of HHG ICW RAT, retroactive to school year 2005/2006 for FEA bargaining unit educators. If you are an FEA bargaining unit educator and did not receive full reimbursement for the costs of shipping/mailing your 100 pounds, each way, of HHG ICW RAT, from school year 2005/2006, please spend some time this summer collecting documentation of these costs, such as (but not limited to) receipts, credit card statements, or mailing forms with the actual cost clearly indicated. It would also be recommended that you locate copies of any RAT reimbursement vouchers and documentation for this time period over the summer.
The parties will continue discussions on settling this grievance, but FEA does not anticipate resolution before summer break. Once the parties have reached agreement, FEA will provide information and guidance to FEA bargaining unit educators on how they can file their claims for retroactive back pay and interest in a Legal Update that will be sent out soon after the start of school year 2012/2013.
Have a great summer!