Q & A Session – Working at Higher Grade Level


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.


I have been working at the next higher pay grade for the past 11 months to fill a vacancy without being temporarily promoted to that position.  Basically, I have been performing all of the tasks associated with the higher grade without getting paid for that pay grade. I recently received an end-of-year evaluation indicating my performance at the higher grade, but again, I have not been temporarily promoted to that grade, nor paid. Is it legal for my agency to expect me to continue performing at the next higher grade without temporarily promoting me or paying me for doing so?


It is not a question of whether it is legal or illegal. You are not entitled to the pay of the next higher grade until you are appointed to it. Your efforts should be directed to convincing your management to appoint you to the correct grade level. You may also request a desk audit, but these run the risk of actually lowering the grade level of your current position.

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.

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