Protections for Federal Employees in Removal Actions

Federal Employees have certain rights and protections that prevent them from removals unless the agency that employs them has a good cause to do so. This differs from most private sector employees, who work on an “at will” basis and can be terminated with or without cause. If you work for a federal agency, you should know your rights, and when your employer can or cannot remove you from your position, and what process must take place if your employer wishes to remove you from your job.

When are removals of federal employees permitted?

An agency may remove a federal employee from their position based on two main reasons. It is legal for federal agencies to remove employees even if the employee has done their job well, if they are downsizing their workforce as the result of not having as much work, or budget decreases. It is also legal to remove federal employees on the basis of the employee’s poor work performance.

What is the removals process?

If the removal is the result of an agency downsizing, the employee must be given at least 60 days’ notice, except in some extreme cases, when it can be lowered to 30 days. The government must also consider the type of employee, and give preference to certain employees when deciding who to let go in the reduction of force. The factors include whether the employee is in their probationary period, whether they are a veteran, and what their performance rating are.

If the proposed removal is based on poor employee performance, then the agency must keep records of the employee’s poor performance. The employee must have the opportunity to improve their performance, and if they fail to improve, the agency can take steps to remove them.

What should I do if I believe that I was improperly removed from my position?

If you are facing a potential removal, or lost your job with a federal government agency and believe it was not done properly, you can appeal the decision with the Merit Systems Protection Board. You should consult with an experienced employment attorney to discuss your case.

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