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 am an Army retiree and a federal employee with 13 years of service going through a Reduction in Force (RIF) because of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). For the past 11 years, all of my SF50 actions checked “YES” for the block “Veterans’ preference for RIF.” On my last SF50 action, it is now marked “NO.” When I questioned this, I was told there is a difference between veterans’ preference in appointments and veterans’ preference in RIFs and that I was eligible for veterans’ preference for appointment but not for RIFs. Is there any light you could shed on veterans’ preference during a RIF?
Except for the purposes of Chapter 43 (performance actions) and Chapter 75 (adverse actions) of Title V, veterans preference is limited to only disabled veterans or veterans who retired below the rank of major or its equivalent. See 5 U.S.C. 2108(4). Accordingly, for the purposes of a Reduction in Force (RIF), an employee is only eligible for veterans’ preference if he or she is either a disabled veteran or retired below the rank of major. Unless you meet either of these two criteria, your agency is correct in its determination that you may have qualified for veterans’ preference for appointment, but do not qualify for veterans’ preference for a RIF.
Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.
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