Supreme Court Considers Furloughed Pentagon Employee’s Long-Delayed Claim

The Supreme Court seemed sympathetic on March 25 to the argument of a furloughed U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) employee who waited five years for an understaffed government board to decide on his compensation claim.

The employee argued that his case, which has dragged on for 11 years, should be allowed even though his claim missed a filing deadline.

The complex, highly technical case goes back to 2013 when longtime DOD employee Stuart Harrow was furloughed for six days as a result of funding cutbacks, according to the petition (pdf) he filed with the Supreme Court. He asked to be exempted from the furlough on the grounds of financial hardship.

Acting as his own counsel, he challenged the employment decision before an administrative judge who ruled against him. Still without legal representation, he appealed to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The board describes itself on its website as “an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems.”

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