Q & A Session: Unjustified Relocation Assignment Complaint



I was geographically reassigned in September 2011 from Honolulu to San Francisco.

I was wondering how long do I have to file a complaint for unjustified relocation assignment? I feel I was forced to relocate with the hope that I would resign.


You are describing a management directed reassignment.  There are some specific details which could be very important to determining your rights to challenge a reassignment.  Under law, members of the Senior Executive Service can be reassigned unilaterally and can be removed from their positions from failure to accept such a directed reassignment (5 USC § 3395).  There is very little room for a member of the SES to challenge a directed reassignment.  Also, some federal employees sign mobility agreements, wherein they agree to move wherever the government assigns them.  It may also be difficult for employees with mobility agreements to challenge their reassignment.  Unfortunately, sometimes agencies do use directed reassignments as a means to encourage an employee to quit.

However, in a recent decision from the Merit Systems Protection Board, Miller v. Dep’t of the Interior, an employee was reassigned to a newly created job, refused the reassignment, and was fired.  The agency then created two vacancies to be filled. The MSPB found that the agency’s actions did not promote the efficiency of the service and was an invalid reassignment. The employee was reinstated.  You could also challenge the bona fides of the reassignment – for instance, showing that you were not qualified for the position you were reassigned to, that the position has remained vacant for years, or that you are grossly overqualified for the position.

However, you describe a directed reassignment which occurred in 2011 – even if you had good cause to challenge the validity of the reassignment, the time in which you could challenge that reassignment has almost certainly past.

This response is written by Michael S. Causey, associate attorney of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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