Letter to the editor

In Milt Zall's Jan. 21 column, he asked if readers agreed with his view of a case.

Specifically, the case dealt with an individual who was terminated from his federal job upon conviction and imprisonment for a crime. After some two years in jail, the conviction was vacated. The government reinstated the employee effective the date of the vacating of the conviction, paying him based on being available again for work at that point. The employee is demanding back pay for the period during which he was in prison.

I don't agree that he is entitled to back pay for that period. A government salary is not an entitlement benefit; it is payment for work. If he had been unable to work for any other reason, such as an injury, he would not have been entitled to salary from the federal government after exhausting his leave. He might have been entitled to worker's compensation.

Based on the facts you gave, the government properly reinstated him to his job and paid him retroactively to the date of his conviction being overturned, when he would have been available for work again. While he clearly suffered damage for wrongful imprisonment, it is not the federal government that is liable for that. Instead, he should seek monetary damages for back pay from the state. The state owes him for that period, not the feds.

Fred Fachet

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