20:0660(77)CA - Treasury, IRS, Louisville District and NTEU -- 1985 FLRAdec CA



[ v20 p660 ]
20:0660(77)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 20 FLRA No. 77
 
 
 DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY 
 INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE 
 LOUISVILLE DISTRICT
 Respondent
 
 and
 
 NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION
 Charging Party
 
                                            Case No. 4-CA-1232
 
                            DECISION AND ORDER
 
    The Administrative Law Judge issued the attached Decision in the
 above-entitled proceeding finding that the Respondent had engaged in the
 unfair labor practices alleged in the complaint, and recommending that
 it be ordered to cease and desist therefrom and take certain affirmative
 action.  Thereafter, the General Counsel and the Charging Party file
 exceptions to the Judge's Decision.  The Respondent filed oppositions to
 the exceptions.
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations
 and section 7118 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute (the Statute), the Authority has reviewed the rulings of the
 Judge made at the hearing and finds that no prejudicial error was
 committed.  The rulings are hereby affirmed.  Upon consideration of the
 Judge's Decision and the entire record, the Authority hereby adopts the
 Judge's findings, conclusions and recommended Order, only to the extent
 consistent herewith.
 
    The unfair labor practice complaint alleges that the Department of
 Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Louisville District (the Respondent)
 violated section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute /1/ based on the conduct of
 one of its supervisors, Sharon Klein, through her attorney, in
 threatening to file a lawsuit against Jane Eads, a bargaining unit
 employee, and against the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU),
 Chapter 25.  The Judge concluded that the letters sent by Klein's
 attorney to Eads and to Chapter 25 threatened them with a lawsuit and
 inherently interfered with and restrained Eads and the Union in the
 exercise of their protected right to pursue a contractual grievance in
 violation of section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute.  Furthermore, he
 concluded that the letters were attributable to the Respondent inasmuch
 as the latter was put on notice as to Klein's disposition to seek legal
 counsel and did not attempt to dissuade her, did nothing to repudiate
 the letters from Klein's attorney, and failed to convey in any other way
 that it was not a party to conduct which would interfere with the
 presentation of the grievance.  Based on the totality of the record
 evidence herein, the Authority concludes, contrary to the Judge, that
 the Respondent did not violate section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute as
 alleged.
 
    The facts in this case are not in dispute.  They have been set forth
 by the Judge in his Decision and shall be repeated only to the extent
 necessary.
 
    Under section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute, it is an unfair labor
 practice for an agency to "interfere with, restrain, or coerce" any
 employee in the exercise of that employee's rights under the Statute.
 The standard under which the Authority has determined whether a
 particular agency's conduct falls within that definition is whether, in
 the circumstances of the case, the employer's conduct may reasonably
 tend to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of
 their rights under the Statute.  /2/
 
    With respect to the general issue of lawsuits in the context of an
 unfair labor practice, the Authority concluded in Consumer Products
 Safety Commission, 4 FLRA 803, at 804, 842-845 (1980), that the filing
 of a civil suit by a supervisor against an employee for libel was not,
 in the circumstances therein, violative of section 7116(a)(1) of the
 Statute.  /3/ Thus, the Authority viewed the civil action filed by the
 supervisor, in an individual capacity without the authorization or
 involvement of the agency, to be based on the alleged libel and not as a
 penalty for engaging in protected activity by filing an unfair labor
 practice charge under the Statute.  The issue involved herein is
 whether, in the circumstances of this case, a supervisor's stated intent
 to file a civil lawsuit against an employee for libel may constitute an
 unfair labor practice on the part of the agency.  Thus, the Authority
 will examine whether the stated intent to file in this case reasonably
 tended to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise
 of their rights under the Statute and whether such stated intent can be
 attributed to Respondent.
 
    As noted above, the Judge viewed the letters from Klein's attorney to
 both employee Eads and NTEU Chapter 25, which conveyed Klein's intent to
 file a lawsuit if Eads did not cease making statements to certain
 employees and supervisors of the Respondent concerning Klein's alleged
 misconduct, as reasonably tending to coerce employees in the exercise of
 their protected right under the Statute to file grievances.  Further, he
 concluded that the letters could be attributed to the Respondent under
 the circumstances presented.  The Authority disagrees with both
 conclusions.  Thus, the Authority concludes, based upon careful
 consideration of the full text of the letters at issue in the context of
 all the surrounding facts and circumstances, that the Respondent did not
 violate section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute as alleged.
 
    The text of the two letters sent to Eads and Chapter 25 by Klein's
 attorney on his letterhead, which are set forth in their entirety in the
 Judge's Decision, shall be repeated only to the extent necessary for
 clarity.
 
    Upon review of the full text of each letter against a backdrop of all
 the circumstances presented herein, the Authority concludes that the
 contents and timing of the letters in question did not reasonably tend
 to interfere with, restrain, or coerce either Eads or Chapter 25 in the
 exercise of rights protected under the Statute.  Rather, in the
 Authority's view, Klein was only attempting to protect her personal
 reputation against what she viewed as an unsubstantiated and wanton
 attack by Eads outside of normal channels.  As the Judge acknowledged,
 "Klein was genuinely concerned that her reputation as a supervisor be
 protected by what she saw as malicious statements by Eads." Further, in
 disagreement with the Judge, the Authority finds insufficient evidence
 in the record to establish by inference that Klein's conduct would
 reasonably tend to prevent either Eads or the Union from utilizing the
 grievance procedure or any other established procedure to resolve the
 differences she had with Klein.
 
    Turning first to the letter from Klein's attorney to Chapter 25, the
 letter states clearly and unequivocally that "we recognize the right of
 an employee to file a grievance against his or her supervisor and we
 have no intention of attempting to stifle the orderly transaction of
 proper procedures." The very next sentence makes it clear that the
 concern of both Klein and her attorney is with "accusations outside the
 normal channels." In the Authority's view, the stated intent of this
 letter, noting particularly the quoted passages, was to stop the
 accusations made outside of the grievance procedure and not to interfere
 with the processing of the grievance in any manner.
 
    The letter from Klein's attorney to Eads, unlike the letter to
 Chapter 25, does not contain any reference to Eads' right to pursue her
 grievance.  However, in the second paragraph, the letter references a
 memorandum addressed to Eads by Doris Frederick, her Branch Chief.  /4/
 The letter notes that Eads was advised in that memorandum of the proper
 procedure by which to make the allegations concerning Klein's asserted
 misconduct, and that following the established procedure was necessary
 because Eads' allegations reflected on Klein's integrity.  The letter
 goes on to state that Eads had not yet followed Frederick's suggestion
 to put her accusations in writing so they could have been addressed
 through proper channels.  While the Authority notes, in agreement with
 the Judge, that the subsequent statement in the attorney's letter, that
 Eads "immediately cease making all allegations of misconduct relating to
 Mrs. Klein," might be subject to an interpretation as including
 allegations made as part of the grievance process, the Authority views
 the letter, when read in its entirety, as addressing those comments and
 accusations made by Eads outside of proper channels.  Moreover, as noted
 above, Eads' agent, NTEU Chapter 25, was clearly informed in its letter
 that both Klein and her attorney recognized Eads' right to file a
 grievance and that there was no intention on the part of Klein or her
 attorney "to stifle the orderly transaction of proper procedures." When
 the letter to Eads is read in this context, the only reasonable
 inference is that Klein's stated intent to file a lawsuit was directed
 solely at Eads' accusations made randomly to various people at the
 worksite and was not an attempt to frustrate the processing of her
 grievance.
 
    Further, the letters were not issued in a vacuum.  In order to
 determine objectively whether the letters would reasonably have tended
 to coerce Eads, the background of events leading up to the letters must
 also be considered.  First, the allegations of misconduct made by Eads
 against Klein were indeed serious.  Thus, there is reason to believe
 that Klein would want to refute them.  Second, they were made outside as
 well as inside normal channels to both members of the supervisory
 hierarchy and to Eads' fellow employees.  In this regard, the record
 reflects that the discussion of these accusations by employees under
 Klein's supervision, which was clearly outside the established procedure
 for processing the grievance, was having a detrimental effect on the
 work place.  Third, it appears clear from the record that Klein utilized
 normal channels in her attempts to refute the accusations.  Thus, there
 is no evidence that she was unresponsive to the grievance procedure.  To
 the contrary, the evidence supports the conclusion that Klein was
 attempting to encourage Eads to utilize the grievance procedure or some
 other established procedure to resolve the problems.  Indeed, Klein
 herself suggested bringing Eads' allegations to the Inspection Division
 for investigation.  It was not until after the Inspection Division
 declined to pursue the matter that she went to an attorney.  Finally, it
 appears that at least some of the accusations made against Klein by Eads
 were not made part of and had nothing to do with the processing of the
 grievance.  /5/ Taking all of these factors under consideration, the
 Authority concludes that the only reasonable inference is that the
 intent of the letters was limited to channeling into proper procedures
 those accusations being made by Eads outside of the grievance process.
 /6/
 
    Noting the absence of specific Authority precedent as to whether it
 may be an unfair labor practice to threaten a lawsuit, the Judge relied
 on a 25-year old decision of the National Labor Relations Board in Clyde
 Taylor Company, 127 NLRB 103 (1960), in reaching his decision.  In the
 Authority's view, Clyde Taylor is clearly distinguishable from the
 instant case both on its facts and with regard to applicable Federal
 sector law.  First, in contrast to Clyde Taylor, where there was a
 threat to sue if an unfair labor practice charge were not withdrawn,
 Klein did not "threaten" to sue because of the grievance or unless Eads
 withdrew her grievance.  Rather, as found above, Klein simply indicated
 an intention to "proceed with whatever legal steps necessary to protect
 her good name" unless Eads ceased making unsubstantiated verbal
 accusations and potentially defamatory remarks against Klein outside the
 context of the grievance procedure, or any established procedure, and
 urged Eads instead to utilize such procedures to determine the truth or
 falsity of such accusations.  Thus, Klein did not state an intent to
 file a lawsuit unless the grievance were withdrawn;  and any connection
 with the protected activity of processing a grievance must be made by
 inference.  Second, Clyde Taylor can be distinguished by the fact that
 neither the Respondent nor its agent sent the letters.  In this regard,
 it is noted that the letters indicating an intent to file a lawsuit were
 written by Klein's attorney on his own letterhead, rather than that of
 the Respondent.  Under these circumstances, we conclude that a
 reasonable person could view the letters as coming from Klein and as
 expressing her personal viewpoint rather than that of the Respondent.
 /7/
 
    Furthermore, it appears that reliance on Clyde Taylor, which is
 factually distinguishable, is also misplaced based on an objective
 application of the Federal sector test, i.e., whether an agency's
 conduct reasonably tends to interfere with, restrain or coerce any
 employee in the exercise of his or her protected rights under the
 Statute.  Rather, the Clyde Taylor test appears to be based on the
 perceptions of hypothetical employees who are easily intimidated and
 fearful of exercising their rights under the law.  Although not
 necessary to the outcome of this decision, the Authority finds it
 difficult in these days and times to believe that the objective
 considerations present in this case would indicate any tendency to
 coerce, or in any other way to chill, the exercise of an employee's
 protected rights.  Indeed, it is noted in this regard that, after the
 letters were sent, third and fourth step meetings were held regarding
 Eads' grievance, and that the grievance was subsequently submitted to
 arbitration.  Thus, it is clear in the present case that Eads was not so
 coerced nor felt so chilled as to be restrained in the exercise of
 rights under the contract and the Statute.
 
    In conclusion, inasmuch as it is reasonable to infer both from the
 actual text of the letters as well as from the background and context in
 which they were written:  that there was no intent to interfere with,
 restrain, or coerce Eads or Chapter 25 with respect to their protected
 right to file and process a grievance;  that the letters in question did
 not reasonably tend to have such an effect on their protected rights;
 and that the letters are clearly attributable to Klein as an individual,
 rather than to her as an agent of Respondent, the Authority concludes,
 contrary to the Judge, that the unfair labor practice complaint herein
 should be dismissed.
 
                                   ORDER
 
    IT IS ORDERED that the complaint in Case No. 4-CA-1232 be, and it
 hereby is, dismissed.
 
    Issued, Washington, D.C., November 13, 1985
 
                                       (s)---
                                       Henry B. Frazier III, Acting
                                       Chairman
                                       (s)---
                                       William J. McGinnis, Jr., Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
 
 
 
 
 --------------- FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
 
    /1/ Section 7116(a)(1) provides:
 
    7116. Unfair labor practices
 
          (a) For the purpose of this chapter, it shall be an unfair
       labor practice for an agency--
 
          (1) to interfere with, restrain, or coerce any employee in the
       exercise by the employee of any right under this chapter(.)
 
 
    /2/ See, e.g., U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Marshals Service, 17
 FLRA No. 42 (1985);  Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 15 FLRA No. 182
 (1984);  Defense General Supply Center, 15 FLRA No. 175 (1984);  United
 States Air Force, Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson
 Conciliation SErvice, 9 FLRA 199 (1982).
 
 
    /3/ In the private sector, the Supreme Court found Bill Johnson's
 Restaurants Inc. v. NLRB, 461 U.S. 731 (1983), that the filing of a
 lawsuit, except in very limited circumstances where it can be shown that
 the suit is both baseless and that its intent is retaliation against an
 employee for the exercise of protected rights, cannot serve as the basis
 of an unfair labor practice charge under the National Labor Relations
 Act.
 
 
    /4/ Based upon a discussion initiated by Eads with Frederick
 following Ead's work review by Klein, Frederick prepared a memorandum
 dated June 10, 1981, which stated among other things that the serious
 charges of misconduct with regard to Klein's integrity should be reduced
 to writing and submitted to her be forwarded through channels.
 
 
    /5/ For instance, the arbitrator who decided the grievance made no
 mention of either Eads' statement that Klein was retaliating against her
 because Eads' husband did not hire a friend of Klein's, or the
 accusation that Klein required Eads to provide advice on lawn
 maintenance.
 
 
    /6/ The protected right under the Statute to file a grievance does
 not give an employee a license to make unsubstantiated and defamatory
 accusations outside of the grievance process, just because a grievance
 has been filed.  Thus, as noted by the Judge, the Authority has held
 that an employee's conduct even during the course of protected activity
 may be such as to remove it form the ambit of protected activity.  See,
 e.g., Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Depot Tracy, Tracy, California,
 16 FLRA No. 101 (1984).
 
 
    /7/ Cf.  Army and Air Force Exchnage (AAFES), Ft. Carson, Colorado, 9
 FLRA 620 (1982), where the Authority dismissed an allegation of
 coercion, concluding that the supervisor's statements represented his
 personal opinion and should reasonable have been interpreted as such.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 -------------------- ALJ$ DECISION FOLLOWS --------------------
 
    DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY, INTERNAL 
    REVENUE SERVICE, LOUISVILLE DISTRICT
               Respondent
 
    and
 
    NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION
               Charging Party
 
    James Edwin Kagy, Esq. and
    Vernon J. Owens, Esq. and
    John A. Freeman, Esq. on the brief
    For the Respondent
 
    Timothy C. Welsh, Esq. and
    William Harness, Esq. on the brief
    For the Charging Party
 
    Pamela B. Jackson, Esq. and
    Barbara S. Liggett, Esq.
    For the General Counsel
 
    Before:  SALVATORE J. ARRIGO
    Administrative Law Judge
 
                                 DECISION
 
                           Statement of the Case
 
    This case arose under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute, Chapter 71 of Title 5 of the U.S. Code, 5 U.S.C. 7101, et
 
    Upon an unfair labor practice charge filed by the National Treasury
 Employees Union (hereinafter referred to as the Union) against the
 Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Louisville District
 (herein referred to as Respondent), the General Counsel of the
 Authority, by the Regional Director for Region IV, issued a Complaint
 and Notice of Hearing alleging Respondent violated the Statute by the
 action of Respondent's supervisor, Sharon Klein, through her attorney,
 in threatening to file a law suit against Jane Eads, a unit employee,
 and the Union's Chapter 25.
 
    A hearing on the Complaint was conducted in Louisville, Kentucky at
 which time all parties were represented by counsel and afforded full
 opportunity to adduce evidence, call, examine and cross-examine
 witnesses and argue orally.  Comprehensive briefs were filed by all
 parties and have been carefully considered.
 
    Upon the entire record in this matter, my observation of the
 witnesses and their demeanor and from my evaluation of the evidence, I
 make the following:
 
                           Findings of Fact /1/
 
    At all times material herein the Union has been the exclusive
 collective bargaining representative of various of Respondent's
 employees including employees located in Respondent's Louisville,
 Kentucky District.  Respondent and the Union are parties to a collective
 bargaining agreement effective from on or about January 26, 1981 until
 at least on or about January 1985.  At all times material herein the
 Union's Chapter 25 (sometimes referred to as the Union) has been
 responsible for administration of the collective bargaining agreement at
 the Louisville facility.
 
    On June 3, 1981 Sharon Klein, Manager of Processing and Terminal
 Sections at Respondent's Louisville facility and a supervisor within the
 meaning of the Statute, met with unit employee Jane Eads, a Data
 Transcriber under Klein's supervision, and discussed the results of a
 work review Klein had recently completed on Eads performance.  During
 the meeting Klein informed Eads that, in Klein's view, Eads work review
 showed a poor utilization of her time and Klein indicated that Eads'
 forthcoming performance evaluation would be considerably lower than she
 had previously received.  Eads disagreed with Klein's conclusions and
 responded that Klein knew Eads was applying for a Tax Auditor job and
 accused Klein of attempting to keep her from getting that job.
 
    Immediately after the discussion with Klein, Eads went to Klein's
 supervisor, Doris Frederick, Chief of the Centralized Services Branch,
 and complained that Klein's evaluation of her work was unfair.  Eads
 expressed her opinion that she performed well, that statistics would
 support her and indeed, other employees in the office came to her for
 help.  Eads accused Klein of not being a good manager noting that she
 had previously received no counselling from Klein and Klein was
 generally unfriendly with her and other employees.  Eads further
 complained that she had been under pressure from Klein to do homework
 for Klein's mother and had previously been told by Klein that her next
 evaluation would depend on how well she got along with Klein's mother.
 /2/ Eads indicated she didn't know why Klein had a grudge against her
 and didn't want her to be a Tax Auditor.  Frederick told Eads her
 accusations were serious and asked Eads why she thought Klein didn't
 like her.  Eads said she didn't know but speculated that it might be
 because Eads' husband, a Division Chief in another department, didn't
 select one of Klein's friends for a managerial position when an opening
 occurred in his Division.  /3/
 
    On the following day, June 4, 1981, Frederick called Klein into her
 office and informed Klein that Eads accused Klein of conditioning her
 evaluation on how well Eads got along with Klein's mother in the
 accounting class and that Eads said that Klein wanted Frederick's job
 and couldn't wait for her to retire.  Klein attributed Eads' allegations
 to anger over her workload review and, although aggravated, Klein didn't
 think anything further would develop in the matter.  Frederick concluded
 that Eads' allegations lacked evidence to support them.
 
    Thereafter, Eads applied for a Tax Auditor position and, as a result,
 Klein prepared a performance evaluation of Eads.  Klein met with Eads on
 June 8 and Klein proceeded to show Eads her evaluation on the various
 performance factors.  Eads disagreed with Klein's evaluation since it
 was that Eads' prior evaluation and, while still considering the first
 factor, asked Klein on what basis she came to her conclusions.  Klein
 replied that she didn't have to explain to Eads the basis of her
 conclusions.  Eads indicated that she wished to have a Union
 representative present at the meeting and Klein replied that Eads was
 not entitled to a representative during the discussion.  Eads then left
 the meeting.
 
    Shortly thereafter, on that same day, Eads called Ron Todd, Chief,
 Resources Management Division, and Klein's second level supervisor.  /4/
 Eads related what had occurred during her evaluation meeting with Klein
 and said she felt she was entitled to know why her evaluation had been
 lowered.  Todd replied that Klein was not required to explain the basis
 of her conclusions.  Eads indicated her displeasure with that procedure
 and went on to inform Todd that she had been under a great deal of
 pressure to do homework for Klein's mother with whom she had taken an
 accounting course and that Klein told Eads her evaluation would depend
 on how well she got along with Klein's mother.  Todd responded that he
 could not discuss anything like that with Eads and, while not directing
 her to do so, he told Eads that "Inspection" was the proper office to
 contact with such a matter.
 
    Todd called Branch Chief Frederick and told her of his conversation
 with Eads.  On June 9, 1981 Frederick met with Klein and told her that
 Eads complained to Todd of Klein's refusing to discuss the evaluation
 with her and made the allegation that Klein conditioned her evaluation
 on how well Eads got along with Klein's mother.  Klein became "upset" by
 accusations against what Klein interpreted as Eads' continuing
 allegations against her integrity and "misuse of power" and, with
 Frederick, contacted Murray Torrence, Louisville District Personnel
 Officer.  After explaining the situation to Torrence, Klein suggested
 they call the Inspection Division before the matter went any further.
 Inspector Jim Cupp was summoned and Klein asked Cupp to conduct an
 investigation into the situation.  Cupp indicated that he'd have to
 check with his supervisor before taking any action and suggested that
 Klein put her concerns in writing, which Klein did.
 
    On June 10 Frederick and Klein met with Eads and went over Eads'
 evaluation with her, factor by factor.  Again Eads asked for
 explanations and again Klein refused to explain the reasons she had
 lowered Eads' evaluation, indicating that it was Eads' responsibility to
 explain why she thought she should be rated higher and convince Klein of
 her position.  Eads again requested a Union representative and was
 refused.  No agreement was reached on the evaluation.  /5/
 
    On June 15, 1981 Eads called Inspector Cupp and, after identifying
 herself, told him she was calling with regard to her supervisor Sharon
 Klein.  Cupp responded that he had been called by Klein and already knew
 about the situation.  Cupp told Eads that if he needed any additional
 information he would contact Eads.
 
    Eads never heard from Cupp thereafter.  However, several weeks later
 Klein received a call from the Inspection Division and was informed that
 an investigation would not be conducted and, since the matter was viewed
 as an administrative problem, it would have to be handled at the
 "administrative level".
 
    Eads was not selected for the Tax Auditor position she sought and, on
 July 15, 1981, Chapter 25 submitted a grievance on behalf of Eads.  The
 grievance alleged the selection was not made in accordance with Article
 7, Section 1 and 4, Article 9 "or other applicable articles and
 sections" of the parties collective bargaining agreement.  /6/
 
    Klein testified that in late July or early August she received a
 telephone call from Retha Fuller, Respondent's District Training
 Officer.  Fuller informed Klein that Eads had spent about an hour in her
 office complaining about her evaluation, stating that Klein told Eads
 that her evaluation would depend on how well she got along with Klein's
 mother and alleging that Klein was attempting to retaliate against Eads'
 husband through her because her husband had not selected one of Klein's
 friends for a job.  /7/
 
    Around this time, according to Klein, some employees indicated to her
 that they were aware that Eads had filed a grievance;  they heard
 "through the grapevine" that Klein forced Eads to do personal favors for
 her;  and that Eads stated to other employees that if Klein lost the
 grievance, Eads would personally see to it that Klein would be fired.
 Klein further testified that one employee requested a transfer from her
 section because the "constant talking about the grievance" was resulting
 in a divisive atmosphere among employees.  In her testimony Eads
 acknowledged relating to some coworkers the substance of her contention
 that her appraisal was adversely affected by her not assisting Klein's
 mother.  She further testified that she discussed the matter on the
 telephone at her work station and indicated the phone conversations
 could be readily overheard by her coworkers.
 
    Immediately after talking to Fuller, Klein contacted Personnel
 Officer Torrence and sought advice as to the propriety of seeking
 private legal counsel regarding the situation.  Klein expressed concern
 that what she viewed as Eads' malicious allegations made outside of the
 grievance procedure to Klein's supervisor and other employees were
 impeding her ability to function as a manager.  According to Torrence,
 Klein indicated that she viewed as malicious, statements by Eads that
 Klein told her if she did not assist her mother in her course work, she
 would hold it against her when rating her work and Klein's lack of
 integrity in rating Eads.  Torrence also testified that Klein was
 concerned that Eads alleged Klein required her to provide advice to
 Klein concerning the maintenance of her lawn in order to obtain a proper
 appraisal.  Torrence told Klein that what she did as a private citizen
 would be strictly her own business and the decision was hers to make as
 she chose.
 
    By letter dated August 3, 1981 Klein, after a first step meeting on
 Eads' grievance, notified Chapter 25 that she found no merit in Eads'
 allegations that she purposely falsified her work records to depreciate
 her performance and denied "several other allegations" made by Eads
 during the meeting which, in Klein's view, adversely reflected on her
 ability and integrity.  Klein stated she considered such allegations "to
 be a wanton personal attack" on her and denied the relief requested.
 
    A second step grievance meeting was conducted on August 17, 1981 and,
 by letter to Chapter 25 dated August 21, Frederick indicated that after
 considering the information the Union and Eads presented, she also found
 no merit to the grievance.
 
    Meanwhile, Klein contacted an attorney and after explaining the
 situation to him, explored what could be done regarding the allegations
 Eads was making outside of the grievance procedure.  On September 1,
 1981 the attorney sent the following letter to Eads:
 
          Please be advised that this office has been retained by Mrs.
       Sharon Klein to represent her concerning allegations made by you
       which are defamatory in nature and will, if not retracted,
       diminish the esteem, respect and confidence in which Mrs. Klein is
       held by her fellow employees.
 
          In a memorandum to you dated June 10, 1981, your branch chief,
       Doris Frederick, advised you that the proper procedure for
       pursuing the allegations you have made is for you to prepare a
       written list of the misconduct charges and present them to the
       Inspection Division.  That memo also states that her supervisor,
 
          Mr. Todd, told you, upon hearing your allegations, to put these
       allegations in writing and direct them to Inspection.  As of this
       date, you have failed to do so, but continue to made oral
       allegations of misconduct on the part of Mrs. Klein, not only to
       her immediate superior, Doris Frederick, but also to the division
       chief, Ron Todd.  Further, it is our information that you have
       made allegations to Retha Fuller that Mrs. Klein may be trying to
       retaliate for various actions taken by your husband.
 
          Your refusal to put these allegations in writing and proceed
       properly through channels and your insistence to continue your
       allegations of misconduct on the part of Mrs. Klein can be
       interpreted only to mean that you have no interest in seeing the
       truth brought out, nor do you want an investigation.  Your sole
       purpose seems to be to cause irreparable damage to the career of
       Mrs. Klein.
 
          This will not be tolerated.
 
          Consider this a demand that you immediately cease making all
       allegations of misconduct relating to Mrs. Klein, both to the
       parties named above, and all other if any.  Consider this a
       further demand that you either present evidence to back up your
       allegations, bringing forward and naming and witnesses you may
       have so that Mrs. Klein can confront you and her other accusers,
       or retract the statements that have been previously made by
       contacting those individuals to whom they were made and telling
       them that there is no evidence to substantiate your allegations.
 
          My client is prepared to proceed with whatever legal steps
       necessary to protect her good name and her position with the
       Internal Revenue Service.  She takes this action with regret,
       knowing that it is necessary to work with you in the future.  In
       light of this, I would suggest that the matter is not yet out of
       control.  Cessation of all allegations that cannot be
       substantiated would greatly reduce tensions and lead to the
       possibility of all parties involved being able to reasonably
       discuss this matter and defuse it without further legal action.
       If legal action is necessary, however, it will be taken.
 
    On September 1, 1981 Klein's attorney sent the following letter to
 Chapter 25:
 
          Please be advised that this office has been retained by Sharon
       Klein to represent her rights regarding a defamation of her
       character by Jane Eads.  It is my understanding that Ms. Eads is
       pursuing a grievance through your local union against Ms. Klein.
       She has also, outside of the grievance procedure, made oral
       statements to fellow employees as to alleged misconduct of Ms.
       Klein.  This has been done despite having been told on separate
       occasions and in writing by both Doris Frederick and Ron Todd that
       all such allegations should be in writing and should be directed
       to the Inspection Division.  It is our opinion that these
       allegations may constitute slander in that they have defamed the
       character of Ms. Klein with both her superiors and fellow
       employees.
 
          We recognize the right of an employee to file a grievance
       against his or her supervisor and we have no intention of
       attempting to stifle the orderly transaction of proper procedures.
        We must advise you, however, that if at any time, it becomes
       apparent that Ms. Eads is making these accusations outside the
       normal channels with union encouragement, both the union and any
       individual personally involved with encouraging Ms. Eads to follow
       such a course of conduct will be named as co-defendants in any
       lawsuit brought against her.
 
          We strongly encourage you to be sure that you have witnesses
       that can document what Ms. Eads is alleging Ms. Klein did.  I
       don't think I need to remind you, Mr. Hall, that you have, on
       previous occasions, prosecuted grievances on behalf of other
       employees against Ms. Klein and made statements that you had
       witnesses to back up the alleged conduct, when in fact you did
       not.  While it is not our intention to stifle a legitimate union
       grievance, it could well be that a court of law, in viewing a
       pattern of unsubstantiated grievances against one individual, may
       determine that there is a concerted effort of harassment and
       defamation involved.  Ms. Klein is prepared to take whatever
       action is necessary to fully protect her rights, not only as an
       Internal Revenue Service employee, but also as a citizen of the
       United States who has full recourse to its court system, outside
       of the NTEU union proceedings.  It is suggested that any grievance
       prosecuted by your union be a well researched and substantial one.
 
          This letter is not an allegation of wrongdoing on the part of
       the union or any of its stewards to date.  It is merely a
       statement that Ms. Klein will protect her rights against any
       individual or organization that violates them, and this should be
       considered as such.
 
    After the letters issued Klein brought them to the attention of
 Branch Chief Frederick and Personnel Director Torrence.  Although the
 evidence does not disclose on what date the letters were shown to
 Frederick and Torrence, Torrence testified he saw the letters "several
 weeks" after the letters were sent.
 
    The record reveals that a third step meeting on Eads' grievance was
 held on September 11, 1981 between Eads, the Union and management and on
 September 25, Chief of Resources Management Division Todd issued his
 decision wherein he found no merit to the grievance.  After a fourth
 step meeting, the grievance was denied by Respondent's District Director
 on January 28, 1982.  Thereafter, the matter was heard before an
 arbitrator on April 8, 1982.  In an opinion dated June 3, 1982 the
 arbitrator considered, inter alia, the timing of the June 1981
 promotional appraisal and the matter of Eads' assisting Klein's mother.
 The arbitrator found that Eads' evaluation was not fair and objective
 and Eads was improperly omitted from the best qualified list for
 consideration for the Tax Auditor vacancy.
 
                        Discussion and Conclusions
 
    Respondent contends that the letters of September 1, 1981 from
 Klein's attorney to Eads and Chapter 25, which I conclude clearly
 conveyed a threat to resort to the civil courts for alleged defamation
 of character, were not violative of the Statute.  More specifically,
 Respondent contends that the actions the letters addressed were not
 activities protected by the Statute;  threatening to file a law suit in
 the circumstances of this case was not a violation of the Statute;  and,
 in any event, the issuance of the September 1 letters was an act of a
 private citizen not attributable to Respondent.
 
    With regard to its contention that the attorney's letters of
 September 1 addressed activity not protected by the Statute, Respondent
 acknowledges that employees are engaged in protected activity while
 presenting grievances within the confines of the grievance procedure.
 However, Respondent argues that the letters challenge only the utterance
 of statements made outside the grievance procedure.  I reject this
 contention.  Nowhere in the letter to Eads is it indicated that only
 those alleged statements Eads was making outside the grievance process
 were sought to be suppressed.  Indeed, the grievance is not mentioned
 anywhere in the letter.  While the letter specifically refers to Eads
 making allegations to Frederick, Todd and Fuller, it does not state that
 any allegations which Eads may have made during her second and third
 separate grievance meetings before Frederick and Todd were not to be
 considered as objectionable statements.  Rather, the letter broadly
 demands, under the threat of legal action, the Eads cease making all
 allegations of misconduct relating Mrs. Klein to Frederick, Todd and
 Fuller and all other parties.  The letter also broadly "demands" that
 Eads present evidence and witnesses to support her allegations or
 retract her allegations.  Thus, if the demand were followed, Eads
 arguments in support of her grievance would be substantially curtailed
 since frequently matters in controversy in the grievance process are not
 supportable by specific evidence or third party witnesses and must be
 resolved by inference based upon the facts presented.
 
    As to the letter to Chapter 25, the early portion of that document is
 addressed to allegations of misconduct made by Eads "outside the
 grievance procedure, acknowledges the right of an employee to file a
 grievance against a supervisor and disclaims any "... intention of
 attempting to stifle the orderly transaction of proper procedures."
 However, the third paragraph of that letter indicates it is the matters
 involved in the grievance itself which are of concern to Klein's
 attorney, the substantiation and substantiality of which could trigger
 recourse to the court system.  Thus, while professing to be interested
 only in Eads' statements made outside the grievance procedure, the
 letter clearly conveys that the Union's handling of those matters
 encompassed by the grievance are also open to the possibility of legal
 action.
 
    It is quite apparent that Eads' statements made outside the grievance
 process are essentially intertwined with the matters involved in her
 grievance.  Thus, Klein's August 3 first step reply to Eads' grievance
 indicates that Eads' allegations, which Klein thought was a "wanton
 personal attach" on her were the subject of the grievance at that step.
 Meetings were conducted at the next two steps which Eads attended and
 since the allegations concerning Eads' relationship with Klein's mother
 was considered by the arbitrator, it is reasonable to infer that the
 matter was at least part of the grievance at all the various steps.
 Indeed, counsel for Respondent acknowledged that the allegations
 concerning Klein's mother were part of the grievance and the same
 allegations raised at the hearing herein were raised when the grievance
 was being processed.  (Tr. 116-117)
 
    The right to file a grievance and a union's right to represent
 employees are significant rights afforded by the Statute and it is
 essential to preservation of those rights that employees are free from
 interference in utilizing the grievance machinery to vindicate perceived
 wrongs.  It has been long held by the Authority that interference with
 the right to file a grievance tends to discourage the exercise of the
 freedom of employees to form, join or assist labor organizations, rights
 protected by the Statute.  Of United States Department of Treasury,
 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Chicago, Illinois, 3 FLRA 724
 (1980) and cases cited therein;  Federal Election Commission, 6 FLRA 327
 (1981).
 
    Of course an employee's conduct while engaging in protected activity
 may be such as to remove the conduct format he ambit of protected
 activity.  Department of the Navy, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard,
 Bremerton, Washington, 2 FLRA 54 (1979).  However, the Authority has
 held that such misconduct must be flagrant.  Id;  Cf.  Department of
 Housing and Urban Development, San Francisco Area Office, San Francisco,
 California, 4 FLRA 460 (1980) and National Labor Relations Board, Region
 1, Boston, Massachusetts, 5 FLRA 622 (1981).  For similar holdings in
 cases arising under the National Labor Relations Act see Union Carbide
 Corporation, 171 NLRB 1651 (1968);  Harding Glass of Missouri, Inc., 158
 NLRB 136 (1966);  Liberty Nursing Homes, Inc., d/b/a Liberty House
 Nursing Home of Lynchburg, 245 NLRB 1194 (1979);  N.L.R.B. v. Thos.
 Power Tool Company, 351 F.2d 584 at 587 (7th Cir. 1965);  and N.L.R.B.
 v. Illinois Tool Works, 153 F2d 811 (7th Cir. 1946).  In the case herein
 Eads' statements ascribed what she thought were Klein's reasons for not
 giving Eads what she thought was a "fair and objective" evaluation as
 required by the contract and what Eads' statements were uttered to two
 of Klein's superiors, the District Training Officer (a managerial
 employee) in response to a question, and a limited number of employees
 in her work unit.  In addition, Eads' allegations which Klein
 understandably objected to were confined to matters concerning her
 evaluation and were part of the grievance filed by Eads to challenge her
 evaluation and open to resolution in the grievance process.  In the
 circumstances of this case and weighing the competing interests herein,
 noting particularly the importance of keeping access open to the
 grievance procedure to resolve disputes arising form the employment
 relationship, I conclude that Eads' assertions were not so flagrant or
 egregious as to remove them form the ambit of protected activity.
 
    I also conclude that Klein's threat to take legal action constituted
 a conduct violative of section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute.  The Authority
 held in Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4 FLRA 809 (1980), that the
 filing of a civil libel suit does not, in itself, constitute an unfair
 labor practice under the Statute.  /8/ However, that decision did not
 broach the issue of whether a threat to file a suit would violate the
 Statute.  In Consumer Product Safety Commission, supra, Judge William B.
 Devaney pointed out the purpose and intent of section 7116 (a)(1) of the
 Statute and section 8 (a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act are
 closely related and accordingly, it is helpful to consider the treatment
 of such matters by the National Labor Relations Board (the Board
 herein).  In Clyde Taylor Company, 127 N.L.R.B. 103, 108 (1960), the
 Board, while recognizing that it "... should accommodate its enforcement
 of the Act to the right of all persons to litigate their claims in
 court, rather than condemn the exercise of such right as an unfair labor
 practice," nevertheless found that a threat to sue for libel because of
 the filing of unfair labor practice charges, or unless they were
 withdrawn, constituted an unfair labor practice.  The Board reasoned:
 
       Such a threat, express or implied, is of a harassing nature.  It
       would normally tend to intimidate an individual contemplating
       filing a charge, from doing so, or one, who has filed a charge, to
       withdraw it.  Accordingly, we agree with the Trial Examiner that
       such a threat restrains employees in the exercise of the right to
       file charges under the Act and thus is coercive and violative of
       Section 8(a)(1).  By this, we do not mean to deny the existence of
       the normal right of all persons to resort to the civil courts to
       obtain and adjudication of their claims.  We interdict her only
       the making of a threat by an employer to resort to the civil
       courts as a tactic calculated to restrain employees in the
       exercise of rights guaranteed by the Act.
 
    Thereafter, the Board held in numerous cases that while the actual
 filing of a civil suit may be privileged, the threat thereof is not
 accorded the same treatment.  See S. E. Nicholas Marcy Corp. et al., 229
 NLRB 75 (1977);  Wolverine World Wide, Inc., 243 NLRB 425 (1979);  Pabst
 Brewing Company, 254 NLRB 494 (1981);  and International Brotherhood of
 Electrical Workers, Local Union No. 11E , AFL-CIO, 258 NLRB 374 (1981).
 But see United Aircraft Corporation, 192 NLRB 382 (1971) where the Board
 held that the threat to file a civil suit unless unfair labor practice
 charges were withdrawn was not an unfair labor practice where the
 statement was an integral part of an attempt to effectuate an overall
 settlement of the dispute between the parties.
 
    As in so many cases arising out of the employment relationship, the
 issues herein require the balancing of competing rights and interests.
 Without doubt, Klein was genuinely concerned that her reputation as a
 supervisor be protected by what she saw as malicious statements by Eads.
  On the other hand, Eads similarly had legitimate concern that she had
 not been appraised in a "fair and objective" manner as required by the
 collective bargaining agreement.
 
    The Supreme Court has recognized that the filing of a suit against an
 employee who engages in activity protected by the National Labor
 Relations Act can place employees on notice that anyone who engages in
 such conduct is subject to the possibility of burdensome litigation and
 thus has a chilling effect on engaging in such activities.  /9/ As
 indicated in Cycle Taylor, the threat to file a law suit is of a
 "harassing nature" and therefore also produces a similar chilling
 effect.  But the right of access to a court to seek redress from alleged
 wrongs has been recognized to be an aspect of the First Amendment right
 to petition the Government for redress of grievances.  /10/ It may be
 claimed that the right to threaten to file a law suit is merely the
 exercise of free speech, i.e. announcing that one will engage in a
 legally permissable action. however, it is well settled that free speech
 as guaranteed by the Constitution does not extend to coercive statements
 violative of the National Labor Relations Act.
 
    In the case herein, the threat of a civil action against Eads was
 stated in broad terms and could reasonable be interpreted to require
 Eads to desist from making statements in or out of the grievance
 procedure which adversely reflected on Klein or impugned her motives.
 The threat to the Union was directly related to the Union's full and
 vigorous representation of Eads while processing her grievance.  Thus,
 an attempt by the Union to argue and support Eads' grievance by urging,
 based upon Eads' testimony, that Klein was improperly motivated when
 evaluating Eads could occasion a law suit.  Accordingly, in the
 circumstances herein I conclude that the threats of civil action
 expressed in the letters of September 1, 1981 inherently interfered with
 and restrained Eads and the Union in the exercise of rights assured by
 the Statute, thereby violating section 7116(a)(1).
 
    I further conclude that the issuance of the September 1 letters is
 attributable to Respondent.  /11/ Respondent takes the position that
 Klein had neither express nor implied authority to take legal actions on
 behalf of the agency and accordingly, the agency cannot be held
 responsible for such conduct.  It is well settled in cases arising under
 the National Labor Relations Act that an employer's responsibility for
 the actions of supervisors is not to be determined by strictly following
 the theory of respondent superior or the rules of agency.  International
 Association of Machinists, Tool and Die Makers, Lodge No. 35 v.
 N.L.R.B., 311 U.S. 80 (1940) and Furr's Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 381 F.2d 562
 (10th Cir. 1967).  Thus in International Association of Machinists, etc,
 supra, the Supreme Court stated:
 
       The employer, however, may be held to have (engaged in illegal
       conduct) even though the acts of the so-called agents were not
       expressly authorized or might not be attributable to him on strict
       application of the rules of respondent superior.  We are dealing
       here not with private rights (Amalgamated Utility Workers v.
       Consolidated Edison Co., 309 U.S. 261, 60 S.Ct. 561, 84 L.Ed. 738)
       nor with technical concepts pertinent to an employer's legal
       responsibility to third persons for acts of his servants, but with
       a clear legislative policy to free the collective bargaining
       process form all taint of an employer's compulsion, domination, or
       influence.  The existence of that interference must be determined
       by careful scrutiny of all the factors, often subtle, which
       restrain the employees' choice and for which the employer may
       fairly be said to be responsible.
 
    In the case herein, the letters from Klein's attorney appear on their
 face to indicate that Klein's threats were being made in her capacity as
 an individual.  Even though these letters do not state that the agency
 was not involved, there is no specific reference to the agency being a
 party to any court action.  In addition, the letters specifically state
 that the attorney was retained by Klein and it is Klein who is concerned
 with her character and reputation.  The foregoing might well support a
 finding that indeed the threats should be interpreted as purely private
 and thereby warrant a conclusion that respondent should not be held
 liable for Klein's conduct.
 
    However, an examination of the attendant circumstances cannot end
 there.  Thus, the underlying facts reveal that the initial matter giving
 rise to this controversy arose out of the employer-employee
 relationship:  Klein carrying out her official duties as a supervisor on
 behalf of Respondent in evaluating Eads and Eads contesting the
 evaluation by complaining to her superiors and envoking the contractual
 grievance procedure alleging a violation of the Union-management
 collective bargaining agreement.  Eads' allegations challenging Klein's
 motivation when evaluating her were made in support of Eads' contention
 that the evaluation was not fair and objective as required by the
 contract.  Further, management was put on notice of Klein's disposition
 to seek legal counsel and did nothing to caution or dissuade Klein.  In
 addition, the letters alleged to have violated the Statute did not
 convey the impression that all aspects of the matters involved in the
 grievance were clearly excluded form the threat.  Moreover, after
 becoming aware that the letters of September 1 issued, Respondent did
 nothing to repudiate the letters, disallow any participation therein or
 explain its position on the matter and take such other action to convey
 it was not a party to conduct which would interfere with the
 presentation of the grievance.
 
    Accordingly, evaluating the evidence, I conclude that Respondent is
 responsible for the conduct of its supervisor and is therefore liable
 for the unfair labor practice conduct found herein.  See N.L.R.B. v. Big
 Three Industrial GAs and Equipment Co., 579 F.2d 304 (5th Cir. 1978) and
 Link-Belt Co., 311 584, 599 (1941).
 
    In view of the entire foregoing I conclude that Respondent, by the
 conduct described herein, violated section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute and
 recommend the Authority issue the following:
 
                                   ORDER
 
    Pursuant to section 2433.29 of the Federal Labor Relation Authority's
 Rules and Regulations and section 7118 of the Statute, it is hereby
 ordered that the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service,
 Louisville District shall:
 
    1. Cease and desist form:
 
          (a) Threatening court action against Jane Eads or any other
       employee for making protected statements related to the processing
       of a grievance.
 
          (b) Threatening court action against National Treasury
       Employees Union, the employees' exclusive representative, for
       pursuing a grievance on behalf of Jane Eads or any other employee.
 
          (c) In any like or related manner interfering with,
       restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of their rights
       assured by the Federal SErvice Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    2. Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the
 purposes and policies of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute:
 
          (a) post at its Louisville, Kentucky District Office copies of
       the attached Notice on forms to be furnished by the Federal Labor
       Relations Authority. upon receipt of such forms, they shall be
       signed by the District Director and shall be posted and maintained
       by him for 60 consecutive days thereafter, in conspicuous places,
       including all bulletin boards and other places where notices to
       employees are customarily posted.  Reasonable steps shall be taken
       to insure that such Notices are not altered, defaced, or covered
       by any other material.
 
          (b) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rule and
       Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region IV, Federal
       abhor Relations Authority, 1776 Peachtree Street, NW., Suite 501,
       North Wing, Atlanta, Georgia 30309, in writing, within 30 days
       from the date of this Order, as to what steps have been taken to
       comply herewith.
                                       (s)---
                                       SALVATORE J. ARRIGO
                                       Administrative Law Judge
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 --------------- FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
 
    /1/ The findings herein are generally a composite of the credited
 portions of various witnesses' testimony.
 
 
    /2/ Eads testified that in January 1981 she submitted an individual
 development plan outlining various courses she was to enroll in at the
 University of Louisville during the Spring semester.  According to Eads,
 shortly thereafter Klein told Eads that Klein's mother would be taking
 one of the same accounting courses Eads was enrolled in and asked her to
 identity herself to her mother and her next evaluation would depend on
 how well she got along with her mother.  Apparently Eads did give
 assistance Klein's mother in the course but ceased helping her towards
 the end of the semester.
 
    Klein testified that she thought there were "one or two times" her
 mother called and asked Klein if it would be all right to ask Eads to
 take some notes for her since she was unable to be present at the class
 and Klein ". . . just asked (Eads) if she would mind doing a favor."
 However, Klein denied attempting "to put any pressure" on Eads in this
 regard.
 
 
    /3/ In subsequent exchange of memoranda between Frederick and Eads,
 Frederick recalled Eads indicating during the discussion that Klein
 wanted Frederick's job.  Eads version was that Klein stated she had
 Frederick's job when Frederick retired.
 
 
    /4/ Eads testified that she did not contact Frederick since Frederick
 was not in the office at that time.
 
 
    /5/ Eads' evaluation, dated June 12, 1981, indicated her performance
 had slipped in various areas from her evaluation of November 28, 1980.
 
 
    /6/ The agreement clearly requires that all performance appraisals
 and promotion evaluations must be "fair and objective".
 
 
    /7/ Although not testifying to the content of the conversation, Eads
 testified that she had a discussion with Fuller in late July or early
 August when Eads attempted to obtain a copy of her individual
 development plan which she misplaced.  According to Eads, the
 conversation concerning the evaluation was prompted by Fuller asking
 EAds why she thought Klein lowered her evaluation from the one Klein had
 previously given.  Fuller did not testify at the hearing.
 
 
    /8/ For treatment of this issue by the Supreme Court in a case
 arising under the National Labor Relations Act see Bill Johnson's
 Restaurants, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 103 S. Ct. 2161.
 
 
    /9/ Bill Johnson's Restaurants, Inc., supra, at 2161.
 
 
    /10/ Id.
 
 
    /11/ There is no contention that Klein was not responsible for the
 letters sent by her attorney.  In any event, such a contention, if made,
 would be rejected on the facts of this case.
 
 
 
 
 
                                APPENDIX
 
                          NOTICE TO ALL EMPLOYEES
 
                                PURSUANT TO
 
                        A DECISION AND ORDER OF THE
 
                     FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
                AND IN ORDER TO EFFECTUATE THE POLICIES OF
 
                       CHAPTER 71 OF TITLE 5 OF THE
 
                            UNITED STATES CODE
 
            FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS STATUTE
 
                   We hereby notify our employees that:
 
    WE WILL NOT threaten court action against Jane Eads or any other
 employee for making protected statements related to the processing of a
 grievance.
 
    WE WILL NOT threaten court action against National Treasury Employees
 Union, the employees' exclusive representative, for pursuing a grievance
 on behalf of Jane Eads or any other employee.
 
    WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner interfere with, restrain,
 or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Stature.
                                       ---
                                       (Activity or Agency)
 
    Dated:---
                                       By:---
 
    (Signature)
 
    This Notice must remain posted for 60 consecutive days from the date
 of posting, and must not be