Federal Employees have job protections that exceed those of most private sector employees. However, employers can still discipline federal employees, the process is just more involved when a federal agency is the employer.
What is a suspension?
Suspending a federal employee is one of the ways that an agency might discipline an employee for misconduct. An employee who is placed on a suspension will not be on duty during that time, and will not be paid during that time either. Suspensions are divided into those of 14 days or less, and those of more than 14 days. The shorter disciplinary actions are part of a standard disciplinary procedure. Suspensions lasting more than 14 days are more serious, and are included in agency “adverse actions,” along with demotions and removals.
What are my rights in a suspension action?
If you are being disciplined by your federal employer, the process should follow a series of steps. Once you have been suspected of misconduct, and investigation will occur. The results of the investigation are then reviewed by management. A proposal letter is issued to the employee stating the terms of the disciplinary action that is being proposed. The employee has the option of responding with a written reply, or to provide an oral reply where they may give their side of the case. The official deciding the case will then issue a decision regarding the disciplinary action proposed. The employee will receive the decision along with information about how to appeal if they disagree with the decision that was made.
Longer suspensions, those lasting more than 14 days, are considered adverse actions. An employee faced with an adverse action has the right to appeal the decision with the Merit Systems Protection Board.
What if I believe I was wrongfully suspended?
If you believe you were wrongfully suspended, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your possibilities for appealing the decision.
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