Browsing: Disputes

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently overturned an arbitrator’s decision sustaining the removal of a Social Security Administration employee for violating time and attendance policies. The court found that the arbitrator erred by imposing a “categorical rule of exclusion” against using similarly situated employees under investigation as comparators when arguing that a penalty is not reasonable. Although this case regards an arbitrator’s decision, the rule of law applies to nonbargaining unit disciplinary and adverse actions.

You may have missed the February announcement from the Merit Systems Protection Board that it lacks a quorum. That means the board is unable to issue decisions by board members, so decisions of its administrative judges are not reviewable by the board until a quorum is restored. The MSPB is currently without two of its three board members after the resignation of then-Chairman Susan Grundmann on Jan. 7 and the earlier resignation and lack of replacement for the previous vice chairman, whose term expired in March 2015. Shortly after his inauguration, President Trump designated Mark Robbins (who is still serving…

Whether your rating period is tied to the fiscal or calendar year, you’ve just received or are about to receive your annual rating. That rating can be the basis for eligibility for an end-of-year bonus or a pay increase. It is also used when seeking a new position in the federal government. For these reasons, federal workers take the annual rating seriously. Here’s what to do if you disagree with your annual rating.

A recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the federal appeals court that decides employee appeals from the Merit Systems Protection Board, made me think about a long-standing belief held by federal employees that it is illegal for their employer to require them to perform job duties above their grade level. It’s not per se illegal, although there are some processes by which a federal worker could be compensated at the higher grade level.

Federal employees have a variety of ways to complain about the conditions of their workplace. The most common methods are: An equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint. A hotline complaint with the Office of Inspector General. A grievance under a collective bargaining agreement. A grievance through the agency’s administrative grievance procedure. A complaint of a prohibited personnel practice with the Office of Special Counsel. With the exception of complaints filed with the OIG, the other processes have mechanisms for resolving the dispute without having to proceed all the way to a final adjudication. Those resolution methods involve mediation, facilitation or just…

I recently did a series of training courses to managers and supervisors in a fairly large federal agency with two strong unions. The courses are designed to educate these managers on the rules that govern the firing of problem employees. The point of the course is to educate managers and supervisors on what can be a complex set of rules governing performance and conduct proceedings so as to empower them to act, and eliminate the myths about how hard each process can or should be. What came up over and over again in each session covering about 100 managers and…

I often hear employees affected by an adverse personnel action repeat urban legend that this Merit Systems Protection Board will likely reverse or mitigate the agency’s action taken against him or her. There’s also a growing belief in Congress that the MSPB is too employee friendly and a reason why there is a workplace culture of employee entitlement that detracts from an agency’s mission. Recent statistics from the MSPB tell a different story. What does this mean for you, a federal employee with MSPB appeal rights? Know before you go, as most likely the board will affirm (and not mitigate)…

Federal managers are aware of the phrase “probationary period,” and most have dealt with employees who are in it while under the manager’s supervision. Research conducted by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) have shown repeatedly, however, that while managers know what a probationary period is, they more often than not don’t use it for its intended purpose: to assess the work performance of new employees and to remove nonperforming probationary employees before they obtain job protection rights under Title V that make it more cumbersome for managers to remove poor performers or employees who fail to fully conform to…

Q: I would like to know if there is an allowed discrepancy of GS levels for the same position within the DOD. If not, what are potential methods of remedy that I should explore? A: A grade level represents a band or range of difficulty. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”) prepares classification standards and functional guides, which are used when classifying a grade of a position. If the work assigned to a position is covered by criteria in a standard for a specific occupational series, the work is evaluated by that standard. However, if there are no specific…

I thought I’d written my last column this year in which I offer advice on being interviewed by an Office of Inspector General. We litigated the two widely reported recent Veterans Benefits Act (VBA) cases before the Merit Systems Protection Board in which two career senior executives with stellar careers were demoted by the Department of Veterans Affairs based on an OIG report that turned out to be wholly unreliable. It became clear in the lead up to the two MSPB hearings that a major reason the report was so unreliable because of the testimony the OIG elicited from witnesses…

1 2