Take Action with the Help of an Experienced Washington MSPB Attorney
If you are (or were) a federal employee and have faced adverse employment action—up to and including removal from service—you should speak with a Washington MSPB attorney about your legal rights. While federal agencies are required to follow strict rules and procedures when taking adverse employment action, violations are commonplace. If a federal agency has violated your rights, you may be entitled to reinstatement, back pay or other remedies—and securing these remedies will most likely involve going before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
We represent federal employees throughout Washington in MSPB hearings and appeals. A Washington MSPB attorney at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford can clearly explain your legal rights and help you make informed decisions about your next steps. To discuss your situation with an experienced attorney in confidence, contact us online or call 410-514-6099 today.
What is the MSPB, and What Does It Do?
The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is “an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems.” It is responsible for handling many—but not all—disputes involving adverse employment actions within the federal sector. If focuses primarily on handling cases involving Prohibited Personnel Practices (PPPs), which include:
- Considering inappropriate recommendations
- Coercing political activity
- Obstructing competition
- Influencing withdrawal from competition
- Granting unauthorized advantage
- Retaliation (including whistleblower retaliation)
- Violating rules that implement the Merit System Principles
- Accessing medical records in furtherance of another PPP
The MSPB conducts hearings when federal employees challenge proposed adverse employment actions, and it also provides a venue for federal employees to challenge adverse employment actions on appeal. As a result, whether you are facing pending action or you believe that you are a victim of a PPP, your next step is to speak with a Washington MSPB attorney.
What Does the Merit Systems Protection Board Not Do?
While protecting your legal rights as a federal employee in Washington will often involve filing a complaint with the MSPB, the MSPB does not handle all types of federal employment matters. For example, matters that fall outside of the MSPB’s scope of authority include:
- Federal employment discrimination complaints raised outside of challenges to agency personnel actions (these complaints are handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
- Investigations and disputes involving unfair labor practice complaints that fall within the jurisdiction of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA); and,
- Investigations and disputes involving actions prohibited under civil service laws, rules and regulations (these matters are handled by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC)).
When you contact The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford for a confidential initial consultation, a Washington MSPB attorney will thoroughly evaluate your situation and determine whether filing a complaint or appeal with the MSPB is the appropriate course of action for protecting your legal rights. We handle all other types of federal employment matters as well—so if it isn’t the appropriate course of action, we can still assist you with seeking a fair outcome, whether that means getting your job back, securing a pay raise or promotion, or otherwise enforcing your rights as a federal employee.
Why Do You Need a Washington MSPB Attorney?
As a federal employee, you have the option of taking your case to the MSPB on your own. You are not legally required to hire an attorney. However, there are several important reasons why you should put an experienced attorney on your side. Here are just some of the important ways that an experienced Washington MSPB attorney will be able to assist you:
1. Determining What Steps Are Necessary to Protect Your Rights
Your attorney can determine what steps are necessary to protect your rights. As noted above, while going to the MSPB is necessary in some cases, there are also circumstances in which going to the MSPB isn’t the right choice (or even a choice at all). If you need to file your complaint with a different federal agency, not only will filing with the MSPB be a waste of time, but it could also leave you without redress if you aren’t able to file with the correct agency in time.
2. Making Sure You Meet All Applicable Deadlines
When you need to seek redress at the MSPB, there are strict deadlines that you need to meet. Failing to meet these deadlines could also leave you without the remedies you deserve. Your attorney will be able to make sure you are aware of all of the deadlines that apply while taking appropriate legal action on your behalf.
3. Presenting and Arguing Your Claims Effectively
Even if you are clearly a victim of a PPP, asserting your legal rights won’t be easy. While your federal employer may have the burden of justifying its decision to take adverse employment action, you must be prepared to clearly explain why any purported justification is insufficient. An experienced Washington MSPB attorney will be able to anticipate your federal employer’s claims and argue effectively on your behalf.
4. Dealing with the Government’s Attorneys on Your Behalf
When you allege a PPP, government attorneys will represent your federal agency in the ensuing legal proceedings. To ensure that you are on a level playing field, you will need an experienced Washington MSPB attorney on your side.
5. Helping You Decide How and When to Resolve Your Case
Should you accept a settlement? Should you file an appeal? Should you challenge the outcome of your MSPB appeal in court? When your career and your personal finances hang in the balance, you need to ensure that you are making informed decisions. An experienced Washington MSPB attorney will be able to help you decide how and when to resolve your case.
Claims Our Washington MSPB Attorneys Handle
Our Washington MSPB attorneys handle all types of claims at both hearings and appeals. This includes claims involving all of the PPPs listed above. If you are facing removal, suspension, demotion, transfer, or any other adverse employment action as a federal employee in Washington, we can help you protect your legal rights. Some examples of the most common types of claims we handle include:
- Race-based and sex-based discrimination
- False misconduct allegations
- False poor performance reviews
- Politically motivated adverse employment actions
- Retaliation against federal employees who assert their constitutional or statutory rights
Again, these are just examples. If you are facing the consequences of an adverse employment action for any reason that you believe may be unlawful, we strongly encourage you to speak with an attorney at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford in confidence.
The MSPB Appeals Process Explained
If you need to file an MSPB appeal, it is important to know what you can expect as you move forward. While our attorneys can explain the process to you in detail, here is a brief overview of the key steps involved:
- Filing Your MSPB Appeal – The first step is to file your MSPB appeal. Again, you must do this properly to ensure that you adequately preserve your legal rights. Additionally, in most cases, you must file your appeal within 30 days of receiving notice of the agency’s decision on the proposed adverse action.
- Discovery – Once you initiate your appeal, you have the right to take discovery. During the discovery process, your Washington MSPB attorney can request (and your employer must turn over) any documents that substantiate your allegations of a PPP.
- Pre–Hearing Matters – Before your case goes to a hearing, your attorney may enter into settlement negotiations on your behalf, or your attorney may recommend pursuing the MSPB Mediation Appeals Program.
- Hearing – If your case has not been resolved before your hearing date arrives, your attorney will argue your case before the MSPB. The government’s attorneys will argue on behalf of your agency (or former agency), and an administrative law judge (ALJ) will render a decision based on the arguments presented.
- Resolution – The ALJ’s decision will represent the final resolution of your appeal—unless you choose to challenge it in court. If you are not satisfied with the outcome for any reason, your attorney can help you make an informed decision about what to do next.
The MSPB Mediation Appeals Program Explained
The MSPB Mediation Appeals Program (MAP) is a voluntary program that federal employees can use to resolve their PPP claims in some cases. You and your agency must both consent to mediation, and if you do, an MSPB ALJ will serve as a mediator. If the mediation is successful, you and your agency will enter into a settlement agreement. If you do not receive a settlement offer, you will still have the right to argue your case at an MSPB hearing.
Remedies Available to Federal Employees in MSPB Appeals
The remedies available to federal employees in MSPB appeals depend on the circumstances involved. Generally speaking, however, potential remedies include reinstatement, placement in a new position, back pay and benefits, reimbursement of expenses, and damages for emotional distress.
Discuss Your Rights with a Washington MSPB Attorney in Confidence
Do you need to know more about filing an MSPB appeal in Washington? If so, we invite you to get in touch. To speak with an experienced Washington MSPB attorney in confidence, call The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford at 410-514-6099 or request an appointment online today.