The Merit Systems Protection Board

The Merit Systems Protections Board (MSPB) is responsible for protecting the federal merit system, and for protecting the rights of employees who work in federal agencies. The MSPB is an independent agency that is part of the Executive branch of government. It is quasi-judicial.

What types of cases does the MSPB hear?

The most frequent types of cases heard by the MSPB are appeals cases from adverse actions taken by agencies. Adverse actions include suspensions that last more than 14 days, reductions in pay or grade, and removals. The MSPB also hears cases regarding retirements and reduction in force actions. The MSPB will hear discrimination claims if the claim involves a removal, however, other discrimination claims should be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

How does the MSPB claims process work?

Federal employees have certain rights, including due process that protect them from being removed from their jobs, demoted, suspended, or certain other actions unless the agency that they work for has a just cause for the action.

If the agency that a federal employee works for takes an adverse action against the employee and that action does not comply with the rules, the employee has the right to challenge the decision. The appeal goes to the MSPB.

Once the appeal is filed, the discovery process begins. This involves the collection of documents, and depositions (questioning of witnesses and involved parties under oath). Both sides will conduct discovery investigations. The MSPB process allows for settlements prior to the hearing. If the hearing goes forward it will be conducted in front of an administrative judge. The hearing itself is similar to a court case, involving opening statements, witness testimony and cross examination, introduction if evidence, and closing statements.

Either side has the right to an appeal of the administrative judge’s decision. The appeal goes to a three person MSPB Board. Once the Board returns a decision it is possible to appeal to the United States Court of Appeals.

If you are considering an appeal to the MSPB, you should consult an attorney to discuss your case.

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