Why Must Agencies Follow Due Process When Firing Federal Workers?

A new report from the Merit Systems Protection Board explains why agencies must follow due process when removing federal employees from their jobs.

The Merit Systems Protection Board has released a new report explaining why federal agencies must follow due process when removing federal employees from their jobs.

The report, What is Due Process in Federal Civil Service Employment, discusses the current civil service laws that apply to adverse actions, the history behind their formation, and describes the constitutional requirements such laws must comply with, namely due process.

As this quote from the report puts it:

As with private sector employers, the Government may be sued for discrimination, violation of the rights of veterans to return to duty after military service, retaliation for protected whistleblowing activities, and for ignoring other laws applicable to the private sector that Congress has deemed necessary for the public good. However, it is also true that there are some rules about the process for removing employees that apply only to the Federal Government. As this report will explain in greater depth, the requirements of the U.S. Constitution have shaped the rules under which civil service agencies may take adverse actions, and the Constitution therefore must play a role in any responsible discourse regarding modifications to those rules.

Federal employees should take particular note of the section titled “Development of Federal Employee Rights” which explains that federal workers have a right to only be removed from their government jobs for just cause and looks at case law history of how that came to be.

The report also debunks some common myths about the federal disciplinary process, such as “It is impossible to fire a federal employee” and “Supervisors are rarely punished compared to non- supervisors.”

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.