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I am a federal employee facing an adverse action. Now what?

If you are a federal employee facing allegations of poor work performance or wrongdoing, you may face severe disciplinary action called an "adverse action." Adverse actions may include a suspension (over 14 days), furlough (over 30 days) demotion or reduction in pay, or removal from your position, all of which can severely hurt your career opportunities.

Fortunately, if you are experiencing an adverse action, you have due process rights. Any failure to follow due process procedures may result in the dismissal of the case against you. Any adverse action must begin with a written notice of the disciplinary action being proposed. The notice must state the grounds for the disciplinary action (i.e. what you did or did not do to warrant discipline). 

Additionally, before you may be disciplined, you must receive written notice of your right to respond orally and in writing to the allegations against you. Although filing a thoughtful and detailed response to the allegations does not always result in the dismissal of the proposed disciplinary action, it is vital to do so as it allows you to begin telling your side of the story and raise all arguments in your favor.

What happens if your case is not resolved?

If your agency decides to continue with the disciplinary process despite your response, its decision to do so does not necessarily mean that the adverse action will be carried out, as you have legal recourse. Filing an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is one principal remedy that may be available to you.

In most cases, once you have received the final decision from your agency suspending you, removing you (or any other adverse action), you have 30 days to file an appeal with the MSPB. As a late filing can forfeit your right to appeal, it is important to ensure that it is timely filed.

Do I need an attorney?

As challenging an adverse action is a complicated process, it is better to do so as early in the disciplinary process as possible with the assistance of an attorney with a strong knowledge of the unique employment laws surrounding federal employees and the ins and outs of the MSPB (and other federal agencies). For more than 25 years, the law firm of Passman & Kaplan have helped federal employees worldwide successfully challenge disciplinary and adverse actions against them. Our attorneys can use their considerable experience to investigate the claim against you and achieve the best possible outcome.

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