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Allen v. Heckler

780 F.2d 64 (1985)

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Allen v. Heckler

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

780 F.2d 64 (1985)


Eleon Allen represented a class of excepted service employees who had been ex-patients of a federal mental-health facility before they were hired to work at the facility pursuant to the facility’s affirmative-action plan. The affirmative-action plan allowed Allen and other former patients to be hired for jobs at the facility that were comparable to ones worked by competitive service counterparts. Competitive service jobs, unlike excepted service ones, required employees to pass a competitive civil-service examination. Although competitive service jobs and their excepted service counterparts required the same skills, were judged based on the same standards, and paid the same, excepted service jobs did not have the same job protections, opportunities for advancement, or retirement potential as competitive service jobs. Unlike physically disabled or mentally retarded excepted workers, handicapped excepted workers had no way to convert their excepted service to competitive service without applying, passing the competitive-civil-service examination, and starting on equal footing with first-time federal workers. There were no arrangements for handicapped excepted workers to receive seniority credit or to enjoy the benefits of their on-the-job experiences. Allen and the class members sued the directors of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Personnel Management (defendants) in a United States district court. The class alleged that the facility’s affirmative-action plan discriminated against them based on their previous medical condition granting them fewer benefits than their competitive counterparts. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the class after concluding that the affirmative-action plan did not provide adequate advancement opportunities to handicapped workers. The district court ordered that all handicapped excepted workers be converted to competitive status with full benefits within two years, similar to the conversion authorized by the plan for other excepted workers. The government appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Mikva, J.)

Dissent (Friedman, J.)

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