Q & A Session – Grade Loss in NSPS Conversion


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 2008, I moved from a GS-12 to an NSPS YA-2 in the Department of Defense (DoD), which, I was told, was a lateral transfer.  Now I am being told, four years after the grade conversion, that this was a “new hire” for my department and not a lateral move, so I am suddenly a GS-11 step 9. While not a loss in current pay, this greatly caps my earning potential and effectively negates my TSP altogether.

Is this a fraud?


Congress passed the law and DoD has the discretion to classify the job. You just cannot lose pay. It is not a fraud. It is just Congress with a very different view on federal personnel.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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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.


  1. That answer is a little incomplete. Recently, the MSPB decided that chapter 75 demotion rights might apply to such a situation.

    Arrington v. Navy, 2012 MSPB 6 (January 24, 2012).

  2. History: Worked for USDA 11 years, with 9 years as a GS-9. I am a commodity inspector. I am currently receiving cancer treatment. I have also just recently declined a directed reassignment because of my health. During the selection of the reassignment two employees with less seniority were allowed to stay, my diability accommodation was never addressed, and part-time employees are working overtime that have replaced me. My work history is exceedingly successful until I got cancer. I am told that I will be removed from service because the penalty of choosing my health over my directed reassignment is removal. Is this within the tolerable limits of reasonableness?

  3. But my argument would that it is a fraud, that’s because the person was told that it was a lateral move, and four years down the line found out that it wasn’t, so what’s really clear there is that they have lied, and that in itself must be illegal?

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