Federal Removal & Termination Lawyers
If you are a federal employee facing the possibility of removal or termination from your job, you’ve come to the right place. The attorneys at Melville Johnson PC have been vigorously defending federal employees from coast-to-coast in front of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and other federal agencies for over a quarter century, and we have the experience and expertise it takes to protect your interests.
The good news is that as a federal employee you have a comprehensive set of rights, both statutory and procedural, which can be used in your defense. To learn more about your rights as a federal employee, as well as the MSPB appeals process, we have provided useful information and commonly asked questions about federal removal and termination below. Please keep in mind that this information is general in nature: we strongly recommend giving us a call, or filling out the form on your right, to get information specific to your case. Our MSPB attorneys have defended thousands of federal employees from coast-to-coast, and we are ready to fight for you.
About Federal Job Security
As a rule of thumb, federal government employees generally have more job security than private sector employees. In part, this is because officials on both sides of the aisle recognize that the most effective government consists of federal employees who are hired and fired on the basis of their merit, not political affiliation, discrimination, or any other reason.
To help ensure fairness in federal agencies, Congress formed the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), an adjudicative body which resolves complaints against federal employers and safeguards the work rights of federal employees. Federal employees have the right to appeal all disciplinary actions, including removals, terminations, demotions or suspensions before the MSPB. Because of the strict procedural deadlines and processes which must be adhered to (lest you waive any legal claims you may have), we highly recommend that if you are facing a removal or termination you speak with one of our MSPB attorneys about your specific case.
Your Right to Due Process and A Workplace Free From Discrimination
Any decision to fire an employee from a position at a government agency is a serious matter. While there are circumstances in which a federal agency may lawfully fire someone, all federal employees always have the right to due process. In the case of termination due to documented poor performance, for instance, this would mean that the employee must have been been given prior notification of the poor review as well as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) to correct the stated behavior. Any failure of due process procedures afforded a federal employee can result in the MSPB overturning a removal. Our attorneys will review what due process you were afforded as part of your MSPB appeal.
In addition to due process rights, federal employees are protected from job discrimination on the basis of federally-protected characteristics including age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and in some cases sexual orientation. If you feel you have been terminated or are facing a potential termination, and you feel it may be on the basis of a federally protected characteristic, we strongly recommend consulting with an attorney.
I’ve Been Fired From My Job. How Can I Appeal My Removal to the Merit Systems Protection Board?
Within 30 calendar days of your receipt of the final decision to terminate (termination is often used interchangeably with removal) your employment or reduce your pay, grade, or position, you have the right to file an appeal. This appeal must be in writing, but can be submitted by mail or filed electronically on the MSPB’s e-filing website.You must provide certain information in your written appeal to affirm MSPB jurisdiction over your claim, including:
- The specific action(s) you’re appealing.
- A copy of your employer’s proposed action and your response.
- Your employer’s final written decision.
- The name and description of the position from which you were terminated or demoted, and
- Any affirmative defenses you’d like to raise. For example, claims under the Whistleblower Protection Act or more general discrimination or retaliation claims.
The appeal form will also give you the opportunity to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). If you don’t request a hearing when submitting your appeal, you may be considered to have waived your hearing rights. However, if you request a hearing and later change your mind or wish to dismiss the appeal, you should be permitted to do so without penalty.
The MSPB Process
After you file an MSPB appeal, the case will go to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who will then issue one of two documents: an Order to Show Cause or an Order of Acknowledgement.
An Order to Show Cause will require you, the Employee-Appellant, to provide information proving (1) your matter comes within the MSPB’s jurisdiction, and (2) you filed the claim within the required 30 day period. At this point the employee or their representative will generally respond by submitting most documentation you have from your employer about your termination or demotion, including any written final notice of termination, and in certain cases a copy of the envelope to show the postmark date. If your submission passes muster, you will then be issued an Order of Acknowledgement.
An Order of Acknowledgement will contain all deadlines for your case, including the deadline for your e employer/agency to submit their file. The agency’s file will (1) give an explanation of your termination or demotion, and (2) include their argument or legal justification for their action. Until your hearing, your appeal form and the agency’s response are likely to be the only documents available for the ALJ’s review. We recommend enlisting the help of an attorney who is experienced with MSPB law before any hearing and before filing your appeal.
What Remedies Are Available?
If your appeal succeeds at your hearing—that is, the ALJ determines your termination or demotion lacks merit—there are quite a few remedies available to you.
One is reinstatement to your prior position or pay grade, along with retroactive pay and benefits for any period in which you were out of work. You may also be able to recover fees and expenses from the prosecution of your appeal, as well as reimbursement for fees and expenses “reasonably and directly” attributable to your employer’s conduct.
Although you won’t necessarily be able to dictate your own remedy, you can provide information at the hearing on costs resulting from your termination or demotion. This gives the ALJ more to work with when fashioning a remedy.
Fighting on Behalf Of Federal Employees Nationwide
If you are a federal employee and have been wrongfully terminated or demoted by your agency, or if you received a poor performance review or other disciplinary action and may be facing impending removal, the attorneys at Melville Johnson PC can help. We have vigorously defended thousands of federal employees in all 50 states and against all federal agencies, and we are here to fight for you! Give us a call or fill out the brief contact form on your right to schedule your consultation today. We look forward to hearing from you!