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PRATTE v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
December 22, 1981
LORRAINE B. PRATTE, PLAINTIFF,
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Lorraine Pratte ("Pratte") has sued the National Labor Relations Board
("NLRB"), its General Counsel and the Regional Director of its Region 13
(headquartered in Chicago), seeking injunctive and declaratory relief
because of NLRB's claimed unlawful revocation of Pratte's appointment as
a staff lawyer. By agreement of the parties, their written submissions
(the verified Complaint and affidavits) constitute the evidentiary record
for this Court's ruling under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 65(a). In accordance
with Rule 52(a) this memorandum opinion and order reflects the Court's
findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Pratte is a June 1981 graduate of Harvard Law School, where she
established a fine record (among other things, as Articles Editor of the
Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review). Because she decided on labor
law as a field of interest, she applied to NLRB's national office and the
Chicago Regional Office.*fn1 In mid-January 1981*fn2 NLRB offered her
employment as a Law Clerk-Trainee (Grade GS-9) at an initial salary of
$18,585 a year. Pratte accepted the offer with alacrity, turning down a
higher-paying position as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia
and abandoning any other placement efforts.
On February 3 (just a week after Pratte's prompt acceptance) the same
NLRB person who had extended the offer*fn3 wrote to say NLRB was "unable
to honor the written commitment which was made to you after November 5,
1980." That action was occasioned by President Reagan's January 20
announcement of an immediate hiring freeze for all civilian employees of
government agencies. But the letter went on:
True to its word, NLRB wrote Pratte March 17:
In my letter of February 3, 1981, I regretably [sic]
had to advise you that this Agency could not honor the
written offer of employment which had been made to you
after November 5, 1980. I am now pleased to inform you
that the National Labor Relations Board has recently
received its new authorized personnel ceilings for
Fiscal Year 1982 from the Office of Management and
Budget. We are now able to extend offers of employment
for professional positions.
It therefore offered employment on the same terms as before. Just as with
the initial offer the Toback letter said:
You will be assigned to our Chicago Regional Office,
and we will expect you to enter on duty on or about
October 5, 1981, which is the beginning of Fiscal Year
1982. If our budget permits, some new employees may be
able to enter on duty prior to October 5, 1981. If you
accept our offer, please indicate when you will be
available to commence work.
Toback's letter was confirmatory of the telephone call that had been
made to Pratte by NLRB's Deputy General Counsel March 10. At that time
she was told to "hold on" if she could because NLRB had been informed by
the Office of Management and Budget that "the money would be coming
through." Just three days after receiving the new Toback letter Pratte
visited his office in Washington and drafted and delivered a handwritten
acceptance letter. She had already forwarded the requested security
clearance forms at the time of the original offer, so that she understood
all systems were "go."
By letters dated August 5 and August 31 NLRB confirmed Pratte's
appointment. Its August 5 letter spoke in future terms ("You will be
appointed as a Law Clerk-Trainee . . . effective October 5, 1981"). August
31 converted that to the present:
This will confirm your Accepted Appointment as Law
Clerk (Trainee), GS-904-09, $18,585 per annum.
Assignment is in our Chicago Regional Office located
at the Everett McKinley Dirksen Building, 219 South
Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois. This is a
sensitive position and the appointment is subject to a
Full Field Investigation under Executive Order 10450.
It is also subject to an Administrative Trial Period
of One year. All other conditions will remain as
stated in Mr. Toback's letter to you dated 8-5-81.
A tentative reporting date of October 4, 1981, has
been set pending receipt and approval of your medical
We look forward to your joining the National Labor
Relations Board staff.
All the conditions referred to in the August 5 and August 31 letters ...
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