EUGENE A. WRIGHT, Circuit Judge:
Today we consider what remedies are available to a federal employee who has work-related differences with his supervisors. Specifically, we decide whether a federal employee may use either a constitutional or a common law tort theory to sue his supervisors over disputes growing out of his employment.
Jeffrey Saul worked for the Social Security Administration (SSA) in Seattle as a Claims Representative. He also served as a union representative for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). His supervisors at the SSA included Ray Larsen, an Area Director, and Colleen St. Louis, Saul's immediate supervisor.
Saul sued Larsen and St. Louis in state court, charging constitutional and common law torts. He alleged that St. Louis had seized and opened personal mail addressed to him at the office, thereby violating his constitutional rights and invading his privacy. He further alleged that Larsen had twice defamed him
The defendants removed to federal district court by invoking 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1). They convinced the district court that they were entitled to absolute immunity under the doctrine of Barr v. Matteo, 360 U.S. 564, 79 S.Ct. 1335, 3 L.Ed.2d 1434 (1959),
We affirmed initially by an unpublished memorandum. Simultaneously, however, the Supreme Court altered the analysis of federal employees' immunity by its decisions
While this case was pending on remand, Congress responded to Westfall by enacting the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988, Pub.L. No. 100-694, 102 Stat. 4563 (Westfall Act). The Westfall Act amended the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq., to protect federal employees from personal liability. Westfall Act § 2(b). In tort actions against federal employees, the act required substituting the United States as sole defendant if the Attorney General certified that the defendant employee had acted within the scope of employment. Id. § 6 (now codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d)).
At issue now are several rulings by the district court on remand. First, following the Westfall Act certification, the district court granted the defendants' motion to substitute the United States as the sole defendant of the common law tort claims. Saul contests this substitution order.
Second, the district court granted partial summary judgment dismissing Saul's constitutional tort claim. It found this claim precluded by the special factor of federal employment. Saul disputes this finding.
The United States moved for summary judgment on the common law tort claims. Saul opposed this motion. He sought to amend his complaint concerning the opening of mail to seek both injunctive relief and class relief on behalf of all SSA employees.
Judge McGovern denied Saul leave to amend and entered summary judgment dismissing his common law tort claims. He found that Saul had failed to exhaust the administrative claim requirements of the FTCA. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2672, 2675(a). He also found that the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), Pub.L. No. 95-454, 92 Stat. 1111 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 5 U.S.C.), preempted Saul's common law tort claims, depriving the court of subject matter jurisdiction. Saul's third and fourth arguments on appeal challenge the denial of leave to amend and the summary dismissal of his common law tort claims.
Only three legal issues require our resolution. First, we must decide whether Saul's federal employment status precludes him from bringing a constitutional tort action to challenge his supervisor's work-related conduct. Second, we must determine whether the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) preempts Saul's common law tort claims. Third, we must consider whether the district court erred in denying Saul leave to amend.
Because Saul appeals from grants of summary judgment, our review is de novo. See Kruso v. International Tel. & Tel. Corp., 872 F.2d 1416, 1421 (9th Cir.1989), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 110 S.Ct. 3217, 110 L.Ed.2d 664 (1990). We must view both the facts and the inferences to be drawn from them in the light most favorable to Saul, the nonmoving party. We consider whether genuine issues of material fact preclude summary judgment, and whether the district court correctly applied the substantive law. See Tzung v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 873 F.2d 1338, 1339-40 (9th Cir.1989).
The CSRA is the bedrock of our analysis, for we conclude that it precludes Saul's Bivens claim and preempts his state tort claims. We begin by examining the CSRA.
THE CIVIL SERVICE REFORM ACT OF 1978
Congress enacted the CSRA to replace "an outdated patchwork of statutes and rules built up over almost a century." S.Rep. No. 969, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. 3, 53 (1978), reprinted in 1978 U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 2723, 2725 (Senate Report).
Two of the CSRA's several appeal mechanisms are relevant here. The act permits federal employees to challenge "prohibited personnel practices" by their supervisors. See 5 U.S.C. § 2302. It also requires that any collective bargaining agreement covering federal employees contain a grievance procedure that culminates in binding arbitration. Id. § 7121. The United States argues that Saul could have challenged the actions of Larsen and St. Louis through either of these CSRA appeal procedures.
Prohibited Personnel Practices
The "prohibited personnel practices" of the CSRA include taking "personnel action[s]" violative of its merit system principles. 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(11). The merit system principles include treating employees fairly and equitably, "with proper regard for their privacy and constitutional rights," id. § 2301(b)(2), as well as protecting employees against arbitrary action and personal favoritism. Id. § 2301(b)(8)(A).
The Act offers an administrative remedy to federal employees who allege prohibited personnel practices.
The CSRA makes a "personnel action" an element of a prohibited personnel practice. 5 U.S.C. § 2302. It defines "personnel action" as including "disciplinary or corrective action," id. § 2302(a)(2)(A)(iii), but it provides no definitions for these latter terms. Saul argues that he could not have challenged the opening of his mail under the procedures for prohibited personnel practices, because the definition of "personnel action" encompasses only actions bearing some relationship to employees' pay.
The term "corrective action" in section 2302 can be read broadly enough to encompass the mail opening before us.
An unconstitutional personnel action violates merit principles. See 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2). The prohibited personnel practices include taking any personnel action that "violates any law, rule or regulation implementing, or directly concerning, the merit system principles contained in section 2301." Id. § 2302(b)(11). If the opening of Saul's mail was a "personnel action" by virtue of being "corrective action," then his allegation of its unconstitutionality constitutes a colorable claim that a prohibited personnel practice occurred.
The plain meaning of "corrective action" also encompasses Saul's defamation claims against Larsen. The allegedly defamatory letter responded to Saul's grievance and Saul asserts it was placed in his personnel file. The alleged oral defamations of Saul occurred during a phone call by Larsen to a congressional aide in which Larsen offered the SSA's position on issues Saul had raised in a letter to the aide's Congressman. If either the letter or the statements to the aide were false or defamatory, they would violate merit principles and would be prohibited personnel practices.
Saul's final complaint is that St. Louis tortiously inflicted emotional distress upon him by prohibiting him from sitting at his desk before 8:00 a.m. and from coming to work on weekends. He raises no genuine factual issue concerning St. Louis' defense that these orders were imposed to avoid unauthorized overtime work. The restrictions are further examples of "corrective" actions that would violate merit principles if unjustly imposed.
Grievances Under Collective Bargaining Agreements
The CSRA requires any collective bargaining agreement covering federal employees to contain a grievance procedure. 5 U.S.C. § 7121. The statute defines a "grievance" as "any complaint ... by any employee concerning any matter relating to the employment of the employee." Id. § 7103(a)(9). A grievance procedure's scope is generally negotiable, except for a few subjects not relevant here. Id. § 7121(a)(2), (c).
The grievance procedure in Saul's collective bargaining agreement covered "any
Other provisions of Saul's collective bargaining agreement echoed the CSRA's requirement of fair and equitable treatment in all aspects of personnel management, "with proper regard and protection of their privacy and constitutional rights." SSA-AFGE Agreement Art. 3, § 2A. The agreement also provided whistleblower protections and protected employees from "restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination or reprisal ... in seeking adjustment of grievances." Id. Art. 3, § 3; Art. 24, § 5. Saul might have based a grievance upon any of these provisions.
We complete our examination of the CSRA by observing that Congress took pains to define the interrelationships between the CSRA's appeal mechanisms. Where a prohibited personnel practice falls within the scope of a negotiated grievance procedure, the CSRA gives the aggrieved employee the option of pursuing either contractual or OSC remedies, but not both. Id. § 7121(d); see also id. § 7121(a)(1) (contractual grievance procedure is the exclusive remedy, unless grievance involves specifically excepted subjects). The act similarly defines the relationship of unfair labor practices
With this foundation in mind, we consider the merits of Saul's appeals.
CSRA PRECLUSION OF SAUL'S CONSTITUTIONAL TORT CLAIM
Saul complained that St. Louis violated his constitutional rights by seizing and opening personal mail he received at the office. In dismissing this claim on summary judgment, Judge McGovern found that St. Louis was entitled to immunity for the challenged acts. He also held the claim preempted because the CSRA afforded Saul an administrative remedy. Because we find the district court's second reason sufficient to answer to Saul's arguments, we do not reach the issue of immunity.
Preclusion Where the CSRA Offers Some Remedy
Saul patterns his constitutional tort claim upon the cause of action recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Fed. Narcotics Bureau, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971). In Bivens, the Court held that federal officers who acted under color of law were liable for damages caused by their violation of the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. 403 U.S. at 389, 397, 91 S.Ct. at 2001, 2005. Finding "no special factors counselling hesitation in the absence of affirmative action by Congress," the Court applied the rule that "where legal rights have been invaded, and a federal statute provides for a
Since Bivens, the Court has "responded cautiously to suggestions that Bivens remedies be extended into new contexts." Schweiker v. Chilicky, 487 U.S. 412, 421, 108 S.Ct. 2460, 2466, 101 L.Ed.2d 370 (1988). The Court's analyses in Chilicky and in its predecessor, Bush v. Lucas, 462 U.S. 367, 103 S.Ct. 2404, 76 L.Ed.2d 648 (1983), are particularly instructive as to whether a court may entertain Saul's Bivens claim.
The plaintiff in Bush was a federal employee who had publicly criticized his employing agency. He alleged that his supervisors violated his First Amendment rights by demoting him. 462 U.S. at 369-71, 103 S.Ct. at 2406-08. Through administrative channels, Bush won retroactive restoration to his position and $30,000 in backpay. Id. at 371, 103 S.Ct. at 2407. Nonetheless he sought to maintain a Bivens action against his supervisors. Id.
To facilitate its analysis, the Supreme Court assumed both that Bush's First Amendment rights had been violated and that the civil services remedies available to him were less effective than a damages remedy. 462 U.S. at 372 & nn. 8-9, 103 S.Ct. at 2408 & nn. 8-9. Yet the Court distinguished Bush's problem from the problem presented in Bivens:
Id. at 388, 103 S.Ct. at 2416-17. The Court answered this question in the negative, stating that "[b]ecause [Bush's] claims arise out of an employment relationship that is governed by comprehensive procedural and substantive provisions giving meaningful remedies against the United States, ... it would be inappropriate for us to supplement that regulatory scheme with a new judicial remedy." 462 U.S. at 368, 103 S.Ct. at 2406. It noted that Congress was better suited to decide if the new legal liability sought by Bush would serve the public interest. Id. at 390, 103 S.Ct. at 2417.
The civil service system afforded Bush a relatively complete remedy. This fact caused uncertainty, after Bush, about the scope of CSRA preclusion.
Five years after Bush, the Court clarified its position. The plaintiffs in Schweiker v. Chilicky, 487 U.S. 412, 417-19, 108 S.Ct. 2460, 2464-65, 101 L.Ed.2d 370 (1988), brought a Bivens action alleging that federal and state officials violated their due process rights by wrongfully terminating their social security disability benefits. After reviewing the Social Security Act's elaborate remedial structure, the Court concluded this structure made Chilicky indistinguishable from Bush. See id. 487
Chilicky teaches that the key consideration is not whether a complete statutory remedy exists for the constitutional violation charged. Rather,
Id. 487 U.S. at 423, 108 S.Ct. at 2467 (emphasis added). The Chilicky Court suggested that Congress had deliberately elected not to include "complete relief" for constitutional violations in the comprehensive acts covering federal employment and social security. See id. at 424-25, 108 S.Ct. at 2468-69. It viewed Bush as resting on the premise that Congress was better positioned to decide whether a new damages remedy would serve the public interest. Id. 487 U.S. at 426-27, 108 S.Ct. at 2469-70.
No Supreme Court opinion holds squarely that the CSRA always prevents federal employees from bringing Bivens actions to right job-related wrongs. One justice has implied that in at least some situations, a federal employee could maintain a Bivens action despite the CSRA. See United States v. Fausto, 484 U.S. 439, 455, 108 S.Ct. 668, 677, 98 L.Ed.2d 830 (1988) (Blackmun, J., concurring).
Before Chilicky, this court permitted a Bivens action by a federal employee who was demoted during a promotional probationary period, where the demotion allegedly violated the employee's constitutional rights of privacy and free speech. See Kotarski v. Cooper, 799 F.2d 1342, 1344-45 (9th Cir.1986) (Kotarski I), vacated and remanded, 487 U.S. 1212, 108 S.Ct. 2861, 101 L.Ed.2d 897 (1988). In holding that the doctrine of Bush v. Lucas did not preclude Kotarski's Bivens claim, we emphasized the absence of "meaningful" and "adequate" remedies in the CSRA for probationary employees. Id. 487 U.S. at 1346-49.
The Supreme Court vacated and remanded Kotarski I for our reconsideration in light of Chilicky. 487 U.S. 1212, 108 S.Ct. 2861. On remand, we shifted our inquiry from evaluating whether the CSRA provided Kotarski with meaningful and adequate remedies to deciding if the CSRA's omission of a damages remedy for demoted probationary employees was "inadvertent." See Kotarski v. Cooper, 866 F.2d 311, 312 (9th Cir.1989) (Kotarski II). Because the CSRA allowed employees to appeal some adverse personnel actions, we found no inadvertence. We held that "no Bivens action can be implied for Kotarski in light of Chilicky." Id.
Citing Schowengerdt v. General Dynamics Corp., 823 F.2d 1328 (9th Cir.1987), Saul urges that his Bivens claims are actionable because the CSRA does not apply to "nonemployment torts committed against federal employees which are not related to pay."
We reject the suggestion that a federal employee may bring a constitutional tort claim against his supervisors as long as he limits his challenge to actions unrelated to his pay.
The text of the CSRA shows that Congress did not inadvertently omit a damages remedy for Saul. As we have explained, the statute offers at least two means of redressing the constitutional injury he contends St. Louis inflicted. He could either have requested the OSC to investigate the mail opening as a prohibited personnel practice, or have filed a grievance under his
Case law interpreting the CSRA further supports rejection of Saul's pay-relatedness distinction. The Supreme Court has not used pay-relatedness as the determinant of whether federal employees may bring Bivens actions against their supervisors. In Bush, the Court deferred to Congress' superior ability to evaluate the impact of Bivens remedies upon the federal civil service. 462 U.S. at 389, 103 S.Ct. at 2417. The relationship of Bush's injury to his pay played no apparent role in the Court's analysis.
Common sense also exposes the folly of making CSRA preclusion of a federal employee's Bivens claim turn on that claim's relationship to pay. It would turn the CSRA on its head to hold that the statute prohibited immediate lawsuits in pay-related cases, but did not prohibit such suits in nonpay-related cases. The structure of the CSRA established the "primacy of the MSPB for administrative resolution of disputes over adverse personnel action, ... and the primacy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for judicial review...." Fausto, 484 U.S. at 449, 108 S.Ct. at 674 (citations omitted). The Fausto Court found that it would undermine this structure to permit nonpreference eligible employees in the excepted service to sue over their dismissals. Id. at 451, 108 S.Ct. at 675. It would also undermine this structure to require employees to redress pay-related claims through the CSRA's administrative procedures, while permitting their coworkers with nonpay-related claims to bypass the act's administrative procedures, sue in any federal district court, and appeal to any geographically appropriate circuit court.
Preclusion Where the CSRA Offers No Remedy
Saul seizes upon dictum in a footnote to Bush that suggests a federal employee subjected to a warrantless search by a supervisor would not have an OSC appeal because the search would not meet the CSRA's definition of a "personnel action." See 462 U.S. at 385 n. 28, 103 S.Ct. at 2415 n. 28. That footnote cannot bear the weight of Saul's argument. We do not think the footnote was meant to decide whether every allegation that a supervisor has subjected a federal employee to a warrantless search is barred from appeal under the CSRA. Read in context, the footnote indicates only that CSRA remedies, while comprehensive, are not infinitely so.
Saul points out that in Schowengerdt, this court applied Bush's footnote 28 very literally. It was cited as our authority for stating that "warrantless searches are not `personnel actions' within the statutory scheme." See 823 F.2d at 1339. In keeping with our pre-Chilicky analysis, we then reasoned that "Congress has not acted to regulate the aspect of government/employee relations at issue ... and, thus, the `special factor' present in Bush is wholly absent here." Id.
While Chilicky undermines this latter reasoning, see supra nn. 13, 17, we do not think that the Bush language requires the literal application given it in the Schowengerdt opinion. A question not reached in the latter opinion is this: does the CSRA preclude even those Bivens claims for which it prescribes no alternative remedies?
In Veit v. Heckler, 746 F.2d 508, 511 (9th Cir.1984) (citations omitted), we said that the comprehensiveness of the CSRA's remedies evinced "a clear congressional intent to permit federal court review as provided in the CSRA or not at all." This statement suggests that CSRA preclusion of Bivens claims applies even absent any CSRA remedy. But Veit concerned the denial of a merit pay increase, which may be challenged as a prohibited personnel practice.
Cases from two other circuits indicate that the preclusive effect of the CSRA sweeps beyond the contours of its remedies. See Lombardi v. Small Business Admin., 889 F.2d 959, 961 (10th Cir.1989); Volk v. Hobson, 866 F.2d 1398, 1403-04 (Fed.Cir.), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1092, 109 S.Ct. 2435, 104 L.Ed.2d 991 (1989). In Volk, the Federal Circuit noted that the remedies of the CSRA were
866 F.2d at 1403.
We agree with the Volk court that the CSRA precludes even those Bivens claims for which the act prescribes no alternative remedy. The CSRA's comprehensive remedial provisions convince us that there was no inadvertence by Congress in omitting a damages remedy against supervisors whose work-related actions allegedly violate a subordinate's constitutional rights. In the area of federal employment, Congress is better equipped than we to strike an appropriate balance between employees' interests in remedying constitutional violations and the interests of the government and the public in maintaining the efficiency, morale and discipline of the federal workforce.
In summary, we hold that the CSRA is a special factor counseling against recognition of a Bivens remedy for Saul. We affirm the dismissal of his Bivens claim.
CSRA PREEMPTION OF SAUL'S COMMON LAW TORT CLAIMS
Saul's complaint charged the torts of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and invasion of privacy. The district court gave two reasons for dismissing these claims on summary judgment. First, Judge McGovern found that after substitution of the United States, Saul was required to exhaust his administrative remedies under the FTCA. Second, he held that the CSRA barred Saul's claims. We affirm on the second ground and do not discuss the first.
The question whether the CSRA preempts a federal employee's common law tort claims against his supervisors, where these claims stem from the working relationship but do not affect the employee's pay, is one of first impression in this circuit. It appears to be a novel question in the federal courts generally.
"Preemption analysis always starts with the presumption that Congress did not intend to displace state law." California ex rel. State Water Resources Bd. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Comm'n, 877 F.2d 743, 746 (9th Cir.1989), aff'd, ___ U.S. ___, 110 S.Ct. 2024, 109 L.Ed.2d 474 (1990). The intention of Congress serves as the ultimate touchstone. California
Federal law may preempt state law in three different ways. Id. at 280-81, 107 S.Ct. at 689-90. First, Congress may preempt state law by an express statement. Id. at 280, 107 S.Ct. at 689. Second, the Supremacy Clause mandates preemption where state law actually conflicts with federal law. See id. at 280-81, 107 S.Ct. at 689-90. Third, we may infer that Congress preempted state law where the scheme of federal regulation is "sufficiently comprehensive to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for supplementary state regulation." Id. (internal quotations and citation omitted). Because we find no express preemption of state tort law in the text of the CSRA, cf. Broughton v. Courtney, 861 F.2d 639, 641-44 (11th Cir.1988), we discuss only the last two preemption possibilities.
Preemption Caused by Actual State-Federal Conflict
A conflict between state and federal laws can occur either because it is physically impossible to comply with both, or because "state law stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress." Guerra, 479 U.S. at 281, 107 S.Ct. at 689 (internal quotations and citations omitted). Here, physical impossibility is not the issue. The issue is rather whether permitting state tort claims like Saul's would frustrate achievement of the congressional objectives embodied in the CSRA.
Saul points out correctly that each time we have held the CSRA preempted a federal employee's common law tort remedies, the employee had suffered some pay-related injury. See Rivera v. United States, 924 F.2d 948, 951-52 (9th Cir.1991); David v. United States, 820 F.2d 1038, 1043 (9th Cir.1987) (CSRA preempted discharged employee's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress); Lehman v. Morrissey, 779 F.2d 526 (9th Cir.1985) (per curiam) (proper to dismiss claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress by employee who resigned after "directed reassignment"; CSRA was her sole recourse). From this fact, Saul reasons that the CSRA preempts only those tort claims that bear some relationship to a federal employee's pay.
Saul focuses upon the wrong fact. CSRA preemption of a federal employee's state tort claims does not depend on whether the claims bear some nexus to the employee's pay. Rather, to the extent that preemption analysis seeks to avoid actual conflict between state and federal laws, the controlling factor must be whether the employee could challenge the action through the CSRA.
In Broughton v. Courtney, 861 F.2d 639, 644 (11th Cir.1988), the Eleventh Circuit stated that "where state common law claims are included in the personnel actions that employees can challenge under the CSRA, those state actions are preempted" (citing David and Lehman). It reasoned that in such situations, the state claim would interfere with the congressional objective of making the CSRA an "exclusive" forum for challenging federal personnel actions. See id. at 643-44 (emphasis added). To prevent actual state-federal conflict, the Broughton court held that the CSRA preempted the plaintiff's state law claims for conspiracy and tortious interference with employment. Id.
As was true in Broughton, at least some of Saul's tort claims were subject to administrative appeal under the CSRA. He could have redressed the alleged defamations and inflictions of emotional distress either by initiating an OSC investigation of prohibited personnel practices or by filing a grievance under his collective bargaining agreement.
Preemption By Federal Occupation of the Field
As already indicated, the Schowengerdt court's literal application of footnote 28 from Bush may mean that the mail-opening actions of St. Louis fall outside the
Both the CSRA and its legislative history show that Congress did not intend that state tort law operate within the interstices of the act. In the legislative history, Congress explicitly recognized that not every work-related complaint by a federal employee would be appealable, let alone appealable to the courts.
Our conclusion that Congress intended to oust state tort law from the realm of federal employment is consistent with cases defining the CSRA's relationship to other federal remedies. Federal courts have used the act's comprehensive and exclusive nature as a reason for holding that it precludes suit under a variety of other federal statutes.
We find the failure of Congress to even mention state tort remedies in the CSRA is glaringly significant. We conclude that Congress ignored these remedies because it left no room for them to operate. The CSRA preempts Saul's claim that the opening of his mail violated state law by invading his privacy.
The district court held correctly that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Saul's common law tort claims. Insofar as the CSRA offered Saul remedies, his state tort claims must be preempted to prevent them from conflicting with the remedial system that Congress prescribed for federal employees. Even where the CSRA provided Saul no remedy, preemption of his work-related tort claims is necessary to fulfill congressional intent.
DENIAL OF LEAVE TO AMEND
Saul originally requested injunctive relief against the individual defendants. After substitution of the United States, he moved to amend his prayer for relief from the allegedly unconstitutional opening of his mail. He wished to add injunctive relief against the United States and class relief for all SSA employees. He now challenges the district court's denial of leave to amend, pointing out that courts are required to grant such leave freely. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15.
Once a responsive pleading has been filed, we review a denial of leave to amend for abuse of discretion. Thomas-Lazear v. FBI, 851 F.2d 1202, 1206 (9th Cir.1988). A district court does not err in denying leave to amend where the amendment would be futile, Reddy v. Litton Indus., Inc., 912 F.2d 291, 296 (9th Cir.1990), or where the amended complaint would be subject to dismissal. Moore v. Kayport Package Express, Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 538 (9th Cir.1989).
Amending Saul's complaint to seek injunctive relief would be futile. The CSRA's elaborate remedies show that judicial interference in federal employment is disfavored, whether the employee requests damages or injunctive relief. See Lombardi, 889 F.2d at 961-62. The act provides its own limited form of injunctive relief, by permitting the OSC to seek a stay of a prohibited personnel practice.
Amending this complaint to seek class relief would also be futile. Saul's class claims would be of the same character as his individual complaint about the opening of mail. Just as the CSRA precludes Saul's individual Bivens claim, so would it preclude him from bringing this as a class action.
The district court did not abuse its discretion by denying leave to amend. Neither amendment could overcome the fundamental futility of the claims.
The comprehensive provisions of the Civil Service Reform Act severely limit the ability of federal employees to sue their supervisors. Our study of the CSRA's preclusive
The second alleged defamation involved Larsen's disclosures to a congressional aide that Saul had been the subject of "production actions" to improve his performance, had filed 16 grievances, and had been refused access by two SSA personnel libraries. Larsen made these disclosures during a phone conversation he initiated after learning that Saul had written to the aide's Congressman complaining about the SSA's union policies.
The two concurring justices in Bush emphasized the completeness of the remedies available. They found "nothing in today's decision to foreclose a federal employee from pursuing a Bivens remedy where his injury is not attributable to personnel actions which may be remedied under the federal statutory scheme." 462 U.S. at 390-91, 103 S.Ct. at 2418 (Marshall, J., concurring).
Justice Blackmun concurred with the five-member Fausto majority, but added the caveat that he did not find its opinion inconsistent with the Court's established aversion to recognizing implied repeals. He thought this aversion applied with equal force to statutorily and judicially created remedies. He cited Bivens actions as an example of a judicially created remedy that should not be lightly repealed by implication. Id. 484 U.S. at 455, 108 S.Ct. at 677.
Feit typifies our sister circuits' views. In Feit, the Seventh Circuit found that the comprehensiveness of the CSRA's administrative system, coupled with the expertise and authority of Congress in the field of federal employment, constitute special factors counseling hesitation to imply a Bivens remedy. 886 F.2d at 854-55 & n. 8. The court in Feit noted that the "prohibited personnel practices" redressible under the CSRA include violations of federal employees' constitutional rights. It found that the act's omission of a damages remedy for constitutional violations was not inadvertent. Id. at 855.