Have you ever felt unfairly treated at your federal job? Are you facing suspension, a reduction in pay, or even removal? If so, you’re likely feeling frustrated and unsure of what to do next. Luckily, there’s a guardian of your rights in the federal workplace: the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
A Brief Introduction to the MSPB
The MSPB is an independent, bipartisan agency within the federal government. Its job is to protect federal merit systems and hear employee appeals. Not every type of federal employee appeal falls within its jurisdiction. The MSPB mainly hears appeals regarding adverse agency actions like removals, suspensions more than 14 days long, reductions in an employee’s grade or pay, and short-term furloughs.
However, the MSPB sometimes hears cases related to performance-based removals or grade reductions, denials of salary increases, reduction-in-force actions, and determinations by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) concerning employment practices, retirement matters, and reemployment rights.
Can All Federal Employees Appeal to the MSPB?
No, not all federal employees can file appeals with the MSPB. The right to appeal varies based on the law and regulations governing specific actions. Some classes of employees, like political appointees, cannot appeal certain actions.
However, if you are a competitive service employee and have completed your probationary period or served one year of continuous service, you may appeal certain actions to the MSPB. The same principle applies to veterans in positions where they receive preference in hiring, Postal Service supervisors and managers, and some excepted service employees.
What if My Case Involves Discrimination?
The MSPB can hear cases involving discrimination related to appealable actions. However, if the discrimination doesn’t involve an action within the Board’s jurisdiction, you should pursue your claim through your employing agency and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
How to File an Appeal
You must file your appeal in writing with the MSPB’s regional or field office where your duty station was located when the action occurred. Additionally, you must submit your appeal within 30 calendar days of the action’s effective date or the date you received the agency’s decision, whichever is later. If you’re involved in an alternative dispute resolution process, you have 60 days to file an appeal.
You can submit your appeal via the mail, a fax machine, commercial overnight delivery, personal delivery, or the MSPB’s online service. Include all the necessary information with your appeal and use the MSPB’s appeal form. Different appeals require different information when you file, and an attorney can tell you more about what information you need to include.
The Appeals Process
Once you submit your appeal, it’s assigned to an Administrative Law Judge. You have the right to a hearing for most appeals, but you can waive this right and have the judge base their decision solely on the written record.
In a hearing, the agency must prove it was justified in taking the action against you. You must prove that your appeal is within the Board’s jurisdiction and that you filed it on time. You bear the burden of proof for any “affirmative defenses” you put forth, such as discrimination or retaliation for whistleblowing.
After the Hearing
Once the hearing ends, the Administrative Law Judge will issue a decision based on the evidence presented. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. You can file a petition for review with the three-member Board in Washington within 35 days after the judge issues their initial decision or 30 days after you receive the initial decision, whichever date is later.
The Board may grant a petition for review under certain circumstances.
If the initial decision is in your favor and the agency files a petition for review, you could still receive “interim relief” while the Board reviews the Administrative Law Judge’s decision. However, interim relief is not available in every case.
If you’re not satisfied with the Board’s final decision, you can request a review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Contact Us for Help
Our federal employment lawyers firmly believe in protecting workers who have been mistreated. If you’re considering an appeal to the MSPB, we can represent you and help you build a compelling case. Call us at 877-615-9495 or visit our contact page to learn more.