Let’s see what this gets me….
I’ve been trying to be patient about finding out why I wasn’t reappointed to my position with a federal government agency. And, yes, I know that “at-will” employees can be hired or fired or can quit at any time for any reason (or no reason at all). But the more I see other friends receiving their reappointment letters — and a well-deserved “Congratulations!” to them — it’s getting depressing being the only person I know so far who has not had their job renewed. And it makes me continue to wonder why since no one has ever complained about my work. Well, at least not to my face or through channels where something could be done about it.
So, today I took a risk. I’m tired of sitting and waiting for something to happen. I’m tired of always trying to “play it safe” and “keep my cards close to my chest” in matters like this. This might help me at least get an honest answer or it might totally blow-up in my face and ruin any attempt I could ever have at getting another position like the one I had. But I had to do something.
I contacted the Equal Rights Officer with whom I worked last year when I was obtaining Celeste and having issues getting reasonable accommodations for my service dog. I even tried to explain to “the powers-that-be” that having her would help me become more deployable and help me with my work since she would help mitigate any problems my disabilities would present. I never thought trying to get something I’m legally entitled to could be so hard! All of the letter writing and arguing over whether or not someone with no medical experience believed that my prescribed service dog would be helpful to me and appropriate for an office setting. It’s not like she’s going to do anything other than lay under my desk all day (except when I take her outside for walks).
Here’s some of what I sent to him today (edited for privacy):
I’ve recently received a letter of non-reappointment regarding my [employment title] status. This is confusing to me because I’ve never in the almost-8 years I’ve worked for [Federal Agency Acronym Here] received a negative performance review and I am often requested for specific disasters. I have not been available the first part of this year as I have been undergoing ophthalmologic testing due to my inability to have my vision corrected above 20/50 with glasses. I am currently awaiting an appointment with the Low-Vision Center at [name of prestigious university here] so that they can help me find adaptive equipment and techniques so that I can continue to work. After the appointment, I’d planned to make myself available again.
Through friendships on social media sites, I’ve seen people posting that they’ve received their letters and so far I am the only one who’s posted a non-reappointment notice. I have emailed my (now former) Cadre Manager, [Name], and his assistant, [Name], for additional information and have been given the following response:
[Insert copy of standardized response paragraph previously inserted into other related blog posts regarding “reason for non-reappointment”]
I even emailed [Name] asking if the reason for my non-reappointment was something negative because it would be fruitless for me to apply to another Cadre if there is something negative preventing my reappointment. Again, I was sent an email with only that paragraph in it. I’ve also seen the new FAQs for the NDRP transition and no new DAEs are being recruited or appointed, which makes the “free to apply for an appointment within another Cadre” statement moot. Additionally, the NDRP program is not currently accepting applications either as they attempt to transfer reappointed DAEs to the new system. However, I have sent my résumé to the IWMO liaison for [formerly employed location] who has stated she will share it with all other regions and HQ in the hopes that perhaps there might be an available slot somewhere.
I don’t want to believe that it’s because I now have a service dog that I’ve not been reappointed, but with phrases such as “a more nimble organization” in the paragraph sent to me it raised my suspicions even more.
If there is any information or advice you could provide, I would greatly appreciate it. This has all come as quite a shock to me and many of my (now former) co-workers. I do understand that as a [employment title] I am a temporary, intermittent, “at-will” employee — but to receive no feedback regarding the reason why I would not be reappointed and to see terminology as mentioned above only makes me feel that [Federal Agency Acronym Here] is not willing to accommodate employees with disabilities. I hope I’m wrong, but that’s the message I’m receiving.
Maybe I’ve shot myself in the foot with this. Maybe I’ll just be marked as a “troublemaker” because I won’t take “no comment” for an answer. Maybe I’ll be a model for other disabled persons who have been indirectly discriminated against. Who knows what will happen.
All I know right now is that I feel better just for having sent the letter. And I’ve received advice/comments from family/friends on other steps I might be able to take if I still can’t get an answer after this. Whether or not I get my job “back” is irrelevant. What’s important here is knowing the truth. When you’re the only person you know who’s not been rehired but you’re also the only person you know with a disability, it’s hard not to jump to conclusions — which is why I want the honest answer.