In 2005, Carolyn M. Kloeckner (“Kloeckner”) left her job as a Senior Investigator for the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration in the St. Louis office. Soon after, she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint alleging sex and age discrimination and a hostile work environment. The DOL charged her with being “absent without leave” and fired her a year later. The dismissal, coupled with the discrimination complaint, result in what is known as a "mixed" case, and is therefore subject to certain forum restrictions. After an unsuccessful outcome with her EEO complaint, Kloeckner appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) which dismissed her claims as untimely. Kloeckner tried to challenge this MSPB decision in federal district court, but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court, holding that only federal circuit courts had jurisdiction over mixed cases that were dismissed on a procedural ground. The federal circuit courts disagree on this issue, and so the Supreme Court’s decision in this case will determine whether a federal district court or a federal appellate-level court can hear an appeal of an MSPB decision to dismiss a mixed claim for being untimely.
The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is authorized to hear appeals by federal employees regarding certain adverse actions, such as dismissals. If in such an appeal the employee asserts that the challenged action was the result of unlawful discrimination, that claim is referred to as a "mixed case."
The Question Presented is:
If the MSPB decides a mixed case without determining the merits of the discrimination claim, is the court with jurisdiction over that claim the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or a district court?
Can a federal district court hear an appeal of a decision by the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) if the MSPB decided on a procedural ground and the case was “mixed” and so involved both unlawful employment termination and discrimination claims?