MSPB Attorney Representing Federal Workers Nationwide

If you are (or were) a federal employee and have been removed from service or faced other adverse employment action, you may have the right to appeal the government’s decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB is an independent agency of the Executive Branch, and one of its primary roles is to hear appeals from current and former federal employees who have experienced terminations, suspensions, and demotions. Jay Stafford and his team are experienced MSPB attorneys who have helped numerous federal employees file successful appeals nationwide.

The MSPB hears appeals involving terminations, suspensions, and demotions occurring under a broad range of circumstances. This includes terminations, suspensions, and demotions based on federal workers’ alleged conduct or performance. If you have been disciplined due to allegations such as theft, misuse of government property, insubordination, falsification, lack of candor, or failure to follow instructions, you should not simply accept the government’s decision. Losing your position with the federal government can have drastic and long-term consequences, and you owe it to yourself and your family to stand up for your legal rights.

We Represent Federal Employees in All MSPB Matters

Matters involving the MSPB can arise under a broad range of circumstances, and they can proceed in a variety of different ways. Our lawyers represent federal employees nationwide in:

Employee Investigations

Many MSPB cases start with an investigation. If someone has accused you of misconduct, either your agency or another federal agency will investigate before deciding whether to pursue disciplinary action.

When facing an investigation as a federal employee, it is important to play an active role in the process. You need to make sure that the federal employees handling the investigation follow proper procedures (they often don’t), and you need to effectively assert your legal rights. We can explain what you should say (and shouldn’t say), and our MSPB lawyer can deal with the government on your behalf throughout the entire investigative process–and after the investigation if necessary.

At some point during your investigation, you may receive what is known as a Garrity or Kalkines warning. Both of these warnings have important implications and, if you have received a Garrity or Kalkines warning, you should speak with an MSPB lawyer promptly to make sure you know what this means for your investigation.

Proposed Disciplinary Actions

If a federal agency decides to pursue disciplinary proceedings based on the outcome of an investigation, it must first provide the federal employee with notice of the proposed disciplinary action. At this stage, you have the opportunity to respond, and it is imperative that you use this opportunity to your advantage.

When responding to a notice of proposed disciplinary action, your primary goal is to dissuade the investigating agency from moving forward. But, this is not the only reason to submit a carefully prepared response. If the agency moves forward, your response will become a part of your case file, and this means that it could also be seen by an MSPB or EEOC judge. Our MSPB attorney can help ensure that your response is as strong and helpful as possible.

Disciplinary Proceedings

MSPB disciplinary proceedings can have severe consequences for federal employees. Depending on the circumstances involved, suspension, demotion, termination and other adverse employment consequences could all be on the table. If you are facing discipline as a federal employee, you need experienced legal representation, and you should speak with an MSPB attorney promptly. Our attorneys handle performance and misconduct actions for federal employees at all General Schedule (GS) and Senior Executive Service (SES) levels.

Hearings and Appeals

Whenever possible, we work to protect our clients against facing the inherently uncertain outcomes of MSPB hearings and appeals. But, in some cases, the need to appear at a hearing or file an appeal will be unavoidable. If you are preparing to go before the MSPB, or if you need to challenge the outcome of your MSPB hearing, our lawyers can advise and represent you through the final resolution of your case.   

MSPB hearings and appeals require in-depth knowledge of the relevant laws, rules and procedures; and, as a result, it is extremely important to choose a lawyer who has significant experience representing federal employees in MSPB matters. Jay Stafford and his team have helped numerous federal employees protect their careers and reputations, and they can use their experience to protect you to the fullest extent possible.

How Do the “Douglas Factors” Apply to Your MSPB Case?

When facing disciplinary action as a federal employee, it is essential to understand how the “Douglas Factors” apply to your case. The Douglas Factors are a set of 12 facts and circumstances that federal agencies must consider when evaluating the reasonableness of proposed disciplinary action. These facts and circumstances are:

  • The nature and seriousness of the offense, and its relation to the employee’s duties, position, and responsibilities, including whether the offense was intentional or technical or inadvertent, or was committed maliciously or for gain, or was frequently repeated;
  • The employee’s job level and type of employment, including supervisory or fiduciary role, contacts with the public, and prominence of the position;
  • The employee’s past disciplinary record;
  • The employee’s past work record, including length of service, performance on the job, ability to get along with fellow workers, and dependability;
  • The effect of the offense upon the employee’s ability to perform at a satisfactory level and its effect upon supervisors’ confidence in the employee’s work ability to perform assigned duties;
  • The consistency of the penalty with those imposed upon other employees for the same or similar offenses;
  • The consistency of the penalty with any applicable agency table of penalties;
  • The notoriety of the offense or its impact upon the reputation of the agency;
  • The clarity with which the employee was on notice of any rules that were violated in committing the offense, or had been warned about the conduct in question;
  • The potential for the employee’s rehabilitation;
  • Mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense such as unusual job tensions, personality problems, mental impairment, harassment, or bad faith, malice or provocation on the part of others involved in the matter; and
  • The adequacy and effectiveness of alternative sanctions to deter such conduct in the future by the employee or others.

If it is not possible for you to avoid discipline entirely, our lawyers will use the relevant Douglas Factors to fight for the least-severe discipline available in light of the circumstances presented. We have used the Douglas Factors to protect federal employees on numerous occasions, and MSPB lawyer Jay Stafford and his team will rely on their experience to help make sure you are not subjected to unreasonable discipline.

Importantly, the Douglas Factors can be used not only to mitigate a federal employee’s discipline, but also to enhance the discipline imposed. As a result, if any of the Douglas Factors work to your disadvantage, this is not a situation that can be ignored. In addition to using the favorable Douglas Factors in your case, Jay Stafford and his team will proactively address any potential concerns with other relevant Douglas Factors as well.

Can You File an Appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board?

Many current and former federal government employees who have experienced adverse employment action will be entitled to file appeals with the MSPB. Our team represents clients in cases involving all matters falling within the MSPB’s jurisdiction. This includes matters such as:

  • Denial of restoration or reemployment rights
  • Furlough of fewer than 30 days
  • Military discrimination cases under USERRA and the VEOA
  • Misconduct and performance-based disciplinary action
  • Suspension from federal service for more than 14 days
  • Probationary termination
  • Reductions in force (RIFs)
  • Reduction in grade based on unacceptable performance under a performance improvement plan
  • Removal from federal service
  • Retirement determinations under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS)
  • Suitability disqualifications
  • Termination of members of the Senior Executive Service (SES)
  • Whistleblower retaliation

These are just some of the most common examples. If you are (or were) a federal employee and you have been terminated, suspended, or demoted for any reason, you should consult with an attorney. We represent federal workers nationwide in MSPB appeals, and you can contact us to arrange an initial consultation 24/7.

Your Rights as a Federal Employee During an MSPB Matter

As an employee of the federal government, you are entitled to rights and protections not afforded to other workers. If the government has violated your rights, this could entitle you to legal remedies in your MSPB appeal. As a federal employee, your legal rights include:

  • The Right to a Fair Investigation – Before the government takes adverse employment action against you based upon misconduct or poor performance; you have the right to an investigation. While facing an investigation can be scary, it is an important part of the process for ensuring that you are not terminated, suspended, or demoted unfairly. The federal government must conduct its investigation in accordance with all pertinent laws and regulations, and, as the subject of a federal employment-related investigation, you have the right to play an active role in the process.
  • The Right to Notification – You have the right to receive notification before the federal government takes adverse employment action against you. If you did not receive adequate notification, this may amount to a due process violation, and it may entitle you to reinstatement or other remedies.
  • The Right to Respond Before the Federal Government Takes Action – You have the right to respond before the federal government takes adverse employment action against you. This is more than a procedural formality. If you were not afforded the opportunity to respond, or if the government did not seriously consider your response, this could also provide grounds for an MSPB appeal.  
  • The Right to Contest Adverse Employment Action – Finally, even if the federal government affords you the due process to which you are legally entitled, you still have the right to contest your termination, suspension, or demotion on other grounds. There are numerous potential grounds for challenging adverse employment action as a federal employee, and Jay Stafford and his team can help you effectively assert any and all grounds you have available.

What To Expect When You File an MSPB Appeal

Filing an MSPB appeal is a unique process. As a federal employee, it is important to know what you can expect along the way. Here is a brief overview of the MSPB appeal process:

1. Filing an MSPB Appeal

The MSPB appeal process begins when you file Form 185 with the agency. Typically, you must initiate your appeal within 30 days of receiving notice of your termination, suspension, or demotion. It is extremely important to complete Form 185 appropriately and file it with the correct MSPB office. These are both steps with which our team can help.  

2. The Discovery Phase

Once you file Form 185, your appeal will enter the discovery phase. This is when your MSPB attorney gets to request records, written answers, and deposition testimony from relevant federal government employees. The federal government’s attorneys may request these from you as well, and you will need to carefully prepare your responses with your MSPB attorney’s help.

3. Pre-Hearing Matters

In many cases, the federal government will agree to settle employees’ claims prior to their MSPB hearings. If settling is in your best interests, attorney Jay Stafford will work to negotiate a favorable settlement as efficiently as possible. If the government is not willing to offer a fair settlement, Mr. Stafford will continue to fight for a just result at the MSPB.

4. MSPB Hearing and Resolution

The final stage of an MSPB appeal is the MSPB hearing. An administrative law judge (ALJ) with the MSPB will hear the evidence from both sides and then render a decision. If you are satisfied with the decision, you can accept the decision as to the final resolution of your case. If you are not satisfied, you can challenge the ALJ’s decision in court.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation with The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

If you need to know more about the MSPB appeal process, we encourage you to contact us promptly. To schedule a confidential consultation with MSPB attorney Jay Stafford, call 410-514-6099 or request an appointment online now. We serve clients nationwide, including North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland.