The law grants every federal employee the right to contest major adverse actions, such as suspensions over 14 days, demotions and removals. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is the government agency tasked with providing a venue for federal employees who wish to appeal an adverse action. If you’re appealing an adverse action, your MSPB hearing will often be your best opportunity to argue your side of the case and present evidence in your defense. Below, we review what you can expect at an MSPB hearing. While this guide can help prepare you, it cannot substitute for years of legal training and experience. Therefore, if you have an upcoming MSPB hearing, you should definitely consider contacting a qualified MSPB hearing lawyer. What Do I Need to Do Before a Merit Systems Protection Board Hearing? Most Merit Systems Protection Board cases take several months to resolve. The Board’s policy is to adjudicate all appeals within 120 days of receipt, although this standard cannot always be met. Before the hearing, the parties have an opportunity to engage in discovery. This means that you can ask your agency to produce relevant evidence, admit certain facts, and answer certain questions that help your case. You can choose to depose certain individuals, which means you can ask them relevant questions in real-time that they have to answer under oath. The administrative judge (AJ) often also holds a preliminary status conference to discuss the case and clarify any issues from the onset. After the discovery period, the AJ holds a pre-hearing conference with the parties. At this conference, the AJ discusses several key matters with the parties based on their prehearing submissions, including: The MSPB’s hearing procedures, Any pending discovery disputes, How to define the issues of the case, Mutually agreed-upon facts (also called stipulated facts), Potential settlements options, Which witnesses each party wants to speak at the hearing, and Potential exhibits. These matters can become complicated very quickly. In addition, you can expect a fully qualified and experienced attorney to represent your agency. That’s one of the reasons why you should have an attorney by your side during your MSPB hearing. These days, a test call (or test Zoom meeting) is sometimes required by the MSPB AJ as a confirmation before the hearing that all parties and witnesses have the technology to participate adequately. What You Can Expect at an MSPB Hearing Almost all MSPB hearings begin with a brief technology check. The AJ will then give both parties one last chance to discuss and resolve any pre-hearing matters. Once that step is finished, the AJ directs the agency to call its witnesses. Witnesses participate one at a time. At the beginning of each witness’s testimony, the AJ or court reporter will put them under oath. The AJ then allows the agency’s attorney to conduct their direct examination of the witness. During the direct examination, the agency counsel will ask certain questions of the witness. You (or your attorney) are allowed to object to the questions from agency’s counsel for certain reasons, such as relevancy. After the agency counsel concludes their examination, you have an opportunity to conduct a cross-examination of the witness. This process continues for each one of the agency’s witnesses. After the last agency witness finishes, the agency will declare that it “rests” its case. At that point, the employee can call their own witnesses. After calling each one of their witnesses, the employee or their representative conducts a direct examination. The agency counsel then has an opportunity to cross-examine the witness. Once the employee’s witnesses have all testified, the AJ allows each party to deliver a short closing statement. Sometimes, this closing statement will be required to be in writing. Parties use their closing statements to argue their case and highlight and review key points of testimony that favor their position. Once closing statements conclude, the AJ adjourns the hearing to consider the evidence. You can typically expect a decision from the AJ within several months after the hearing. Do MSPB Hearings Involve Juries? No. Unlike many state and federal court cases, MSPB hearings do not involve juries. Instead, they include only the MSPB AJ, you (and your counsel), the Agency’s counsel, and a court reporter. The parties can call witnesses to participate. However, those witnesses must immediately leave after the AJ excuses them. Where Do I Go For My MSPB Hearing? Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the MSPB generally holds hearings on video calling applications like Zoom. Therefore, most employees can participate from the comfort of their own homes, and expenses for attorney travel are greatly minimized. Let Us Help Represent You During Your MSPB Hearing Now that you have a basic idea of what to expect at a Merit Systems Protection Board hearing, you can probably imagine how complicated they can become. In fact, it can be almost impossible to know when to object to a question or determine what kind of matters you should ask your employer during the discovery process. For that reason, it’s imperative that you have legal representation to maximize your chances of success. Your future deserves nothing but the best. The team at the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC is committed to bringing you stellar representation. We care deeply about protecting your federal career and preserving your legal rights. We’ve zealously defended our clients’ interests at countless MSPB hearings over the years. Let us give you the representation you deserve. Don’t wait. Call us at 866-612-5956 or get in touch with us online.Read More
Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing
The Lawyers for Federal Employees
Federal employees have unique rights unlike other employees, and many of those rights are governed by specific laws that are unique to federal employees. At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, our team of experienced federal employment lawyers is dedicated to helping federal employees understand and protect their rights.
Just like other employees, federal employees can face an array of challenges. When these challenges require you to file a lawsuit, an administrative complaint, or a claim for benefits, it is important that you have a knowledgeable advocate on your side.
The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing has experience with all types of legal issues affecting federal employees, including disability claims, discrimination and harassment, whistleblower claims, retaliation, wrongful termination, and other adverse employment actions.
If you are a federal employee, the process for protecting your rights is different than for most employees in the private sector. It is important that you have an attorney with specific experience in federal employee law, not just general employment law.
Our practice is directly focused specifically on federal employee law.
Enforcing your rights as a federal employee frequently involves navigating various layers of bureaucracy.
Additionally, it can often be challenging to determine which agency is responsible for your specific type of claim and what process that agency requires you to comply with.
The Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing has experience working with numerous agencies across the federal government regarding federal employee issues. These issues can include complaints or claims involving:
- The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB),
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- The Office of Special Counsel (OSC)
- The Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS)
- The VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP)
- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
- The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)
When dealing with claims before these agencies, even small mistakes, such as missing filing deadlines, failing to gather adequate supporting documents, or filing a claim with the wrong agency can be costly.
Having an experienced federal employee lawyer on your side can make all the difference.
At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, our team of federal employment attorneys is passionate about helping federal employees with any legal issues they may face. If you need help pursuing benefits you are entitled to or protecting your rights against wrongful conduct, contact us today.
How We Can Serve You
Meet Aaron Wersing
Federal Employee Attorney
Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC. His practice focuses solely on assisting federal employees in a broad array of litigation and transactional matters. Mr. Wersing’s practice includes the evaluation and resolution of a diverse variety of federal employment matters.
I can’t say enough good things about Mr. Wersing. He was dedicated to my case and because of his dedication he won my case. I was lost without him. I went to many attorney’s and all of them told me they were unable to help me because the government was to hard to fight against, but not Mr. Wersing. He knew his stuff . If your looking for an attorney who treats you like a person and just not like another number, Mr. Wersing is that attorney. He knows his stuff and will fight for your rights. I can never thank him enough.- Sandy | EEOC
Aaron Wersing is at the very top of every attorney I have met or dealt with. He is a patient, pleasant and professional attorney who is mission oriented and dedicated to get the job done. He helped me through a very arduous disability process allowing me to keep my self dignity and respect. I cannot imagine working with any attorney other than Aaron Wersing when applying for Fers Disability or any other employment & labor, employee benefits or workers compensation issues.- Howard M. | FERS Disability
Aaron is not only confident in getting things done, he is very compassionate and caring. He is a true fighter for what he believes is right. My case was a bit complicated but Aaron never backed down. Applying for OPM can be daunting and personal. Aaron has the ability to keep you focused and on track which means he understands how emotional it can be for somebody that has to retire due to medical conditions. Because of Aaron my OPM was approved the first time and we didn't have to do a reconsideration. If you want a good attorney that will fight for you, Aaron is your man. I will be forever thankful.- Tammy | FERS Disability
Our Federal Employment Law Library
Empowering Federal Employees To Know and Exercise Their Rights
Getting demoted at work can be a crushing blow to your career. However, it’s especially devastating and unjust when you know you were wrongfully demoted. Maybe your boss decided to demote you because of your skin color or gender. Or perhaps your boss demoted you because you made a complaint about a legal or ethical violation in your workplace. Regardless of the reason, it’s essential that you preserve your rights immediately and defend yourself against your employer’s actions. To get in touch with an experienced federal employment attorney, contact the team at the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC for immediate assistance. What Does Wrongfully Demoted Mean? When a person says they have been demoted, they mean that they’ve been reduced to a lower rank or less senior position. For example, a federal supervisor may demote their subordinate from a GS-13 job to a GS-12 position. Sometimes, demotions are implemented as a form of discipline, to hold an employee accountable for alleged misconduct or poor performance. Other times, employees receive a demotion because of illegal, discriminatory reasons. It’s important to understand that federal discrimination laws prohibit any adverse actions, including demotions, for illegal and discriminatory reasons. More specifically, you cannot receive a demotion because of your: Age, Race, Color, National origin, Sexual orientation, Religious beliefs, Medical disability, or Prior protected activity (like filing a complaint) If you think you are being demoted at work because of one of these discriminatory reasons, you need to act quickly. You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You may also have the right to appeal your demotion with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). These avenues are very different, and it is important to speak to an attorney familiar with the unique rights of employees of the federal government. Whatever appeal path you take, it’s essential that you act in a timely manner. Although the law grants you the right to hold your employer accountable for discrimination, you cannot wait very long. Otherwise, your complaint will be untimely, and a judge will likely toss it out. Want to Learn More About Your Options After Being Wrongfully Demoted at Work? Now that you know what being wrongfully demoted means, you’re probably wondering what to do next. You also know why wrongful demotions can happen and what agencies you can file a complaint or appeal with, but you’re probably unsure of how to actually start the process. Knowing that you’ve been wrongfully demoted is just the beginning of your journey for justice. At the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, our attorneys will do everything possible to protect your rights. When you walk through our doors, we know you’re hurting and need some help. We want to sit down with you to hear your story. But then we will use our knowledge and experience to apply the law to your case. We’ll show you your options. Whatever you decide, we promise to aggressively pursue justice for you. On top of that, we will provide you with outstanding customer service. To us, you’re not a number. You’re a human being with a valuable story and inherent rights. Together, we can help you gain the compensation you deserve for your wrongful demotion. Because we are passionate about defending the rights of federal employees, our federal employment lawyers offer all potential clients a free initial consultation. You have nothing to lose by calling us today at (866) 891-0578 and sharing your story with us. You can also contact us online. Don’t wait another second. Let’s get underway today.Read More
The federal government grants severance pay to employees who separate involuntarily from the federal service. Not all employees can receive severance pay, however. To qualify, an employee first has to meet several prerequisites. You should also know that severance pay plays an important role for those who are in the process of obtaining a federal disability retirement. We cover the basics here, but we recommend that you reach out to a knowledgeable federal employment attorney to learn more. What Is Severance Pay? Just like in the private sector, severance pay is compensation given to employees who are involuntarily separated from federal service. “Involuntary separation” includes several key scenarios, including: Separation for a medical inability to perform one’s duties; Reductions in Force (RIF) or downsizing; A transfer of the position’s function outside of the employee’s commuting area; Expiration of incumbent’s term of office; and A lack of funds to pay the employee. Am I Eligible For Severance Pay? You may be eligible for severance pay if you are involuntarily separated from the federal service as defined above. However, you need to meet a couple of additional basic conditions. First, you need a career or career-conditional appointment in the competitive or excepted services. Appointments in the Senior Executive Service and some time-limited appointments also qualify, but presidential and emergency appointments do not. Second, you need to have completed at least 12 months of continuous service in the federal government by the date of separation. Finally, you cannot have accepted another position with the federal government and receive severance pay. How Much Severance Pay Can I Get? Naturally, the amount of severance pay varies from one employee to another. The amount of severance pay that you can receive depends primarily on your years of service in the federal government. You can get one week of severance pay (calculated at your final basic pay rate) for each of your first 10 years of service. Every additional year of service grants you an additional two weeks of severance pay. There is also an age adjustment that boosts the amount of severance pay for employees over 40. For every three months of age beyond age forty, you can add an additional 2.5% to your basic severance pay rate. When calculating your years of service, you can generally include any time you spent in the national guard or the Armed Forces. Former United States Postal Service (USPS) workers can include their time with that agency as well. How Does Severance Pay Affect My FERS Disability Retirement? Many employees applying for federal disability retirement look to severance pay as a way to boost their financial picture when exiting government service. However, under current guidance, you cannot receive severance pay if you are “eligible . . . for an immediate annuity from a Federal retirement system.” This means that if you receive an involuntary separation while applying for federal disability retirement, you’ll likely have to return any severance pay you receive. Have More Questions About Severance Pay? Severance pay is a tricky topic, especially when you have a pending federal disability retirement application. It can be stressful to think about how you’re going to pay for retirement or your next period of unemployment. You shouldn’t have to deal with this issue on your own. Our attorneys at the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, are totally committed to helping you secure your financial future. At your free initial consultation, we can discuss the details of your situation and advise you on your best course of action. Call us at (866) 891-0578 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.Read More