Appealing Harsh Federal Penalties Against Agency Employees
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Harsh Federal Penalties against Agency Employees

Aug 1, 2013 | Employment Law, Federal Disability Retirement

What can a federal employee do in response to a penalty imposed by their agency that he or she believes to be too harsh? You have the option to appeal the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) for reconsideration of the agency’s action.

It’s important to note that to appeal, a federal employee does not need to contest the factual allegations of impropriety against them or even contest that those allegations negatively impact their federal service.

Keep reading to learn more or click here for information on federal employee rights.

The Douglas Factors & Federal Employee Law

An MSPB case, Douglas v. Veterans Administration, provides a set of mitigating factors that an agency must consider when deciding what punishment to give an employee. For their decision to be given deference by the MSPB, a deciding official must consider:

  • Remorse
  • Admission of misconduct
  • Medical issues
  • Length of service
  • The nature of punishment in comparable situations

In the case that the deciding official fails to look at the relevant Douglas factors, the MSPB can examine the relevant punishment more closely. If the MSPB believes the federal punishment in question (removal, suspension, reprimand, etc.) should be modified, they can simply issue an order cancelling the agency’s action and substituting the punishment with one they believe appropriate.

With questions or comments regarding the Douglas factors and appealing federal penalties against agency employees, please call Peter Casciano, Esq. at 301-244-4523 or email