Federal employees enjoy many of the same rights as other workers in Georgia, but you may be thrust into a difficult dilemma and unsure where to turn if your employer violates them. It is understandable that you would hesitate to trust the US government to diligently pursue your complaint about mistreatment. If an agency is careless enough to engage in prohibited practices, you probably doubt that it can handle a complaint stemming from them.
The US Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), an independent agency within the Executive branch, was established for just this reason: To protect federal employees by investigating and adjudicating allegations of misconduct by federal employers. If the MSPB finds that you were subjected to improper adverse action, such as termination or demotion, you may qualify for reinstatement, backpay, and other damages.
Because prohibited practices and adverse action can lead to serious financial hardship, one of the first questions people in your position ask is: How long does an MSPB hearing take to resolve? The answer is far from simple and only a knowledgeable Georgia MSPB lawyer can provide you with an estimate. However, it may help to review the timeline of an MSPB appeal and get an idea of the process.
- Initial Filings and Administrative Matters: The process starts by filing the MSPB appeal, which you must do within 30 days after the incident or event that is the basis for your complaint. You will need to go into detail regarding the prohibited personnel practices (PPPs) that you allege your employer committed, such as retaliation or certain types of discrimination. Within 1-2 weeks after filing, you will receive an Acknowledgement Order that sets the ground rules for the MSPB process. Within 20 days after issuance of the Order, the federal agency/employer must turn over the employee’s file and issue a response to the employee’s allegations.
- Status Conferences and Discovery: The administrative law judge (ALJ) assigned to your case may schedule hearings to discuss the issues involved. The parties can narrow down the key areas of dispute, and they can engage in initial settlement negotiations. If either side intends to engage in discovery, requests must be forwarded within 30 days after the Acknowledgement Order. Discovery is an important part of the MSPB appeal process, as it gives you access to documents, emails, and other information in possession of your employer.
- Pre-Hearing Tasks and Proceedings: Before the scheduled date of the hearing, the ALJ will require the parties to submit documentation on their respective positions in the case. You will also need to provide information on the documents you want to introduce as evidence and a list of proposed witnesses that will testify. In the lead up to the MSPB appeal, you can continue to discuss settlement of your complaint.
- The MSPB Hearing: For federal employees living in and around Decatur, GA, the hearing will go forward at the MSPB Atlanta Regional Office. The proceeding usually takes 1-2 days, depending on the number of witnesses and exhibits. The ALJ will hear opening and closing statements, along with witness testimony. Once the hearing concludes, you can expect to receive a written decision within 3-6 weeks.
Contact a Georgia MSPB Attorney to Learn More About the Process
From this description of the timeline of an MSPB appeal, you can see that there are very specific tasks, deadlines, and procedural rules. Mistakes with any of these factors can harm your rights, so trust our team at the Vaughn Law Firm to advocate on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation, please call 877.615.9495 or go online to reach our Decatur, GA office.