FAQs About the Federal Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)

Vaughn – Federal Merits (1)

When you’re a federal employee and feel that you’ve suffered mistreatment at work, it’s understandable that you would have serious reservations about exercising your rights and pursuing legal options. Since your employer is the government, you probably know that the remedies available to other workers don’t apply to your situation. However, that doesn’t mean you have to accept the adverse action. Instead, you need to seek redress through the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB).

The role of the MSPB is to safeguard the underlying principles of the federal government’s approach to employment issues and eliminate various forms of misconduct in the workplace. A Georgia MSPB attorney can provide specific information after reviewing your circumstances, but you may find it useful to review some answers to common questions about the MSPB.

What are the MSPB’s responsibilities? Generally speaking, the MSPB is the government’s HR department to ensure the federal workforce runs efficiently and effectively. Officials are tasked with investigating allegations of wrongdoing and taking action against federal employers that violate “Prohibited Personnel Practices” (PPP) – actions that don’t comply with due process, the right to a fair hearing, and other civil service regulations. It’s possible to appeal an unlawful employment decision that results in:

  • A job suspension lasting more than 14 days;
  • Termination or other removal from federal employment;
  • Unfavorable performance reviews, i.e., suitability determinations; or,
  • Improper retirement conditions, such as forced or early retirement.

Are there any topics NOT within the MSPB purview? Yes, there are numerous issues that MSPB does not address in the context of federal employment. One of the most misunderstood areas is discrimination claims. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles complaints in this area. In addition, the MSPB does NOT work on:

  • Allegations regarding unfair labor practices by employers, which are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Labor Relations Authority;
  • Certain types of whistleblower complaints; and,
  • Claims regarding government agencies not under the federal umbrella.
  • Who is eligible to file an MSPB appeal? Not all federal employees are qualified to contest termination or other adverse action by an employer agency. You only have standing to initiate the process if you are:

    • A “competitive” service employee who has successfully completed the required 12 month probationary period;
    • An “excepted” service employee who has accumulated two or more years of qualifying service; or,
    • An eligible veteran.

    Are there any time limitations on filing an MSPB appeal? The deadlines for initiating an appeal before the MSPB vary based upon your status and the nature of the complaint. Most federal employees must file within 30 days after the adverse action taken by the federal employer, based upon the effective date. Employees with the Veterans’ Affairs have only 10 days to take legal action.

    What should I include in my appeal documentation? Contrary to what you might expect, the only paperwork you need to submit is a notification that you intend to address the action by your federal employer. You must complete the appeals form, which requires you to supply your name, address, and the basic foundation of your complaint.

    Note that you should NOT include all evidence that you have in your possession when you’re filing an appeal with MSPB. You could actually harm your interests by offering too much prematurely. From a strategic standpoint, it’s best to go through the discovery process when the time comes.

    Do I need an attorney to file an MSPB appeal? There’s no legal requirement to hire a lawyer, but it’s in your best interests to retain legal counsel. For one, you can avoid some of the most common mistakes that lead the MSPB to reject your appeal. Failure to include essential information or comply with deadlines are two critical errors that may result in dismissal. Plus, you need to prove good cause as grounds for your appeal – which can be challenging when you try to balance the regulatory requirements with your tactical approach. A knowledgeable MSPB attorney can guide you through the process to help you obtain the best possible outcome.

    Trust a Georgia MSPB Lawyer to Advocate on Your Behalf
    Hopefully, these answers to frequently asked questions about the MSPB gives you a general understanding of how MSPB appeals work. Still, you no doubt want some personalized details on how the relevant laws apply to your situation.

    Our team at the Vaughn Law Firm can provide the information you seek, as we have extensive experience representing clients throughout DeKalb County, Fulton County, and Cobb County in these matters. Please contact our Decatur, GA office to speak to a member of our team today. You can schedule a free consultation by calling 877.615.9495 or checking out our website.