Know your rights – Do I have to write a memo?

Most of us have had to write a memorandum at some point or another — it is just a fact of life as an employee of the U.S. Border Patrol.

The union is frequently asked by members if they must write a memorandum. The short answer is, yes, generally, you can be ordered to write a memorandum regarding just about anything. However, there is one significant rule that needs to be observed: Article 4, Section H, of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Article 4, Section H, of the CBA states:
Any inquiry into an employee’s off-duty conduct must be based on activity which, if verified, would have a nexus to the employee’s official position. The Service and the Union agree that the conduct of employees while off duty shall result in action concerning the employee only where there is a nexus between that conduct and the employee’s official position. Employees will not be subjected to harassment or frivolous inquiries.

This means that you get to be just a person living your life without being made to explain your every action while you are away from work. However, if an allegation is made that you did something while off duty, and that action has a nexus to your job — that is, your conduct is likely to have a negative effect on the agency’s operations — then the agency can look into it.

If you are ordered to write a memorandum about your off duty activities and you believe there is no nexus to the job, contact a union representative so the issue can be investigated. Ultimately, it may be best to write the memorandum and file a grievance, rather than face a charge of insubordination. As always, when ordered to write a memorandum, you have the right to union representation pursuant to Weingarten and Article 31 of the CBA.

When in doubt, contact a local union representative for help.