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Dear Ms. xxx:
We have reviewed the backpay claim that you submitted to the General Accounting Office (GAO) on January 12, 1996, for the period from April 1, 1995 through May 30, 1995. For the reasons expressed herein, your claim is denied.
By memorandum dated August 23, 1995, you reported that in March of 1995, you became ill and were told by your physicians to temporarily change your work environment. On or about April 1, 1995, you requested leave without pay and submitted a letter to your employer, the [agency], from your physician who stated that you had "sensitivities to many elements" in your working environment. Dr. [xxx] recommended that you "not work in this environment for two months." Dr. [xxx] explained more specifically that you should avoid exposure to office equipment such as copiers and laser printers. In compliance with your request, effective April 1, 1995, [agency] placed you on leave without pay.
However, on April 17, 1995, the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) of the Department of Labor advised you that your claim for compensation had been denied, and on that same day, you requested that [agency] permit you to return to duty. You were asked to bring in medical documentation from your doctor which indicated that you could return to an office environment, but you did not do so. [Agency] determined that based on your medical limitations, it could not approve your request without endangering your health by ignoring your physician's recommendation. At the end of the two month period, you were returned to normal duties.
The decision to place you on leave without pay was based on competent medical evidence provided by your physician. An employee may be placed in a leave status when it is administratively determined that the employee is incapacitated for the performance of assigned duties based upon competent medical evidence. Such action does not constitute an unjustified or unwarranted personnel action under the Back Pay Act. See Memphis Defense Depot, B-214631, August 24, 1984; David G. Reyes, B-206237, August 16, 1982; and Connie R. Cecalas, B-184522, April 21, 1977. A claim for backpay must be denied when competent medical evidence indicates that the claimant was incapacitated for performance of his or her assigned duties. See Isma B. Saloshin, B-205950, January 10, 1984.
Murray M. Meeker Senior Attorney