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Federal Employment Law
what are adverse and disciplinary action

Adverse and disciplinary actions for federal employees are different classes of punishments.

Both adverse and disciplinary actions are taken by an employer for reasons of performance or misconduct. Adverse actions include more serious punishments, while disciplinary actions often refer to less serious punishments.

However, both can cause irreparable harm to your career and personal life. If you are a federal employee, disciplinary actions by your employer are something you need to take seriously.

Consider consulting a successful federal employment attorney today to help you protect your rights.

What Are Disciplinary Actions For Federal Employees?

Disciplinary actions for federal employees refer to the range of measures that agencies can take against you for allegedly violating agency rules, regulations, or standards of conduct.

Your employing federal agency is almost always responsible for taking these actions.

Disciplinary actions can vary greatly in severity, from a simple warning or reprimand to more serious measures, such as suspensions.

Common disciplinary actions for federal employees include:

  1. Verbal counseling. This is simply a formal or informal statement of disapproval given to an employee. Verbal counseling is the least serious corrective action your employer can take against you.  
  2. Letter of Counseling/Caution. Agencies generally issue counseling letters to “memorialize” an earlier verbal counseling session or document a minor misconduct issue. The exact name of these letters varies between agencies. 
  3. Short Suspensions. A suspension is merely a temporary removal from duty without pay. A suspension is “short” if it lasts 14 or fewer calendar days

Various federal laws and regulations govern disciplinary actions for federal employees.

A few key laws are the Civil Service Reform Act, the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, and the Privacy Act.

These laws and regulations provide you with certain rights and protections, such as the right to a fair and impartial hearing, the right to appeal, and the right to representation by a union or an attorney.

It’s important to note that disciplinary actions must be based on a valid cause, such as unacceptable performance, misconduct, or some violation of laws or regulations.

In addition, any actions based on characteristics like your race, sexual orientation, or religion are illegal.

You also have a few due process rights when receiving disciplinary action. Specifically, you have the right to make a response and receive a written notice of the action. 

What Are Adverse Actions For Federal Employees?

Adverse actions are a serious kind of disciplinary action taken by a federal agency against a federal employee.

As with disciplinary actions, adverse actions always negatively affect your job, pay, or benefits. They also have a huge impact on your reputation and employability.

Adverse actions can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Long suspension. To qualify as an adverse action, a suspension must be at least 14 days or more.
  2. Demotion. The technical phrase of a demotion is “reduction in grade.” It may or may not include a decrease in pay and benefits.
  3. Removal. The most serious adverse action, a removal equates to a termination of your employment from the federal government.
  4. Reduction in pay. The mirror punishment of a reduction in grade, a reduction in pay is simply a loss of pay or benefits. It may be temporary or permanent. 
  5. Furlough. A temporary leave of absence without pay for a specified period of time.

Adverse actions against federal employees are governed by federal laws and regulations, including the Civil Service Reform Act, the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, and the Privacy Act.

Fortunately, these laws and regulations provide extensive rights and protections to federal employees.

These include the right to a fair and impartial hearing, the right to appeal, and the right to representation by a union or an attorney.

As with disciplinary actions, all adverse actions must stem from an act of misconduct or poor performance.

In addition, federal agencies need to provide extensive due process procedures when they propose an adverse action against you.

Specifically, you need to have at least 30 days’ advance notice of the action, an opportunity to respond to the proposed action, and the right to appeal it to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Let Our Federal Employment Attorneys Help You! Contact Us Today

Whether you are facing adverse or disciplinary actions, you need to take it seriously.

Even a minor reprimand can torpedo your chances of obtaining your dream position and leave you with a black mark on your record.

With that in mind, you need to get legal counsel right away if your employer is proposing any kind of disciplinary action against you. 

At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing PLLC, we are dedicated to preserving your rights. We will do whatever it takes to defend your good name.

Furthermore, we will help you take action against discriminatory employers and other bad actors. Federal employment is a niche area, and most attorneys have little experience with it.

However, we have decades of experience in federal employment issues. Don’t try to go it alone and jeopardize your career.

Instead, give us a call at 866-612-5956 or get in touch with us online.

Author Photo

Aaron Wersing, Attorney at Law

Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing. Mr. Wersing graduated from the Georgia State University College of Law with a Doctorate in Jurisprudence and was the recipient of the CALI Excellence for the Future Award. Mr. Wersing previously attended the University of Georgia, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. Mr. Wersing is an active member of his local community. Mr. Wersing acts as a volunteer attorney with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the pro bono legal aid organization of the Houston Bar Association. He is also a member of professional legal organizations such as the National Employment Lawyers Association and the American Inns of Court. To reach Aaron for a consultation, please call him at (833) 833-3529.

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