Q&A Session – Grieving a PIP


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


In a recent column I read that employees could not grieve being given a PIP. Could you please provide the legal reference for this?


Many federal agency administrative grievance procedures (non-union) and negotiated collective bargaining agreements (CBA) exclude performance improvement plans (PIP) as grievable matters.  This is because PIPs are considered to be a preliminary step in addressing perceived performance deficiencies and have no actual impact on employment, even though the employee usually feels that way.  It is only when management decides to take adverse action on the outcome of the PIP (i.e., a demotion or removal) that a grievance can be filed, though there may be a better route, such as an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).  PIPs can be challenged in other ways, such as with an EEO complaint if there is a belief that it is part of a pattern of unlawful EEO discrimination or reprisal.  You should, however, check your specific agency’s procedure or CBA, whichever is applicable, to see how PIPs are treated where you work. 

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

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