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what damages can the MSPB award

If you’re a federal employee, you’ve probably heard about the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

The MSPB is an independent agency that hears appeals from federal employees who have been disciplined or who believe they have been subjected to some other adverse personnel action, such as a demotion, reduction in grade, or termination.

Its general purpose is to protect the rights of federal employees.

Yet before you request an MSPB lawsuit, you need to know what you stand to win. Are you wondering, What damages can the MSPB award? If so, then take a minute to review this article.

If you still have questions, contact a dedicated MSPB attorney right away to learn more about the damages you can recover in your case.  

Types of Damages You Can Recover at an MSPB Hearing

In the context of a lawsuit, the word “damages” refers to the kinds of compensation that you can recover.

There are several types of damages that you can seek in a lawsuit. Each one is designed to correct a particular kind of wrong, and not every kind of remedy is available in every case.

Let’s take a closer look at each kind of damage available in the MSPB.

Back Pay

Back pay is by far one of the most common remedies available to an MSPB appellant.

It is intended to compensate you for the pay you would have received if the adverse personnel action had not taken place.

For instance, if your employer suspended you for 14 days, then you would be eligible to receive 14 days of pay if you prevailed in your MSPB appeal.

You can also expect to receive some interest on the back pay.

Compensatory Damages

Generally speaking, compensatory damages attempt to compensate you for the actual harm suffered as a result of the agency’s incorrect actions.

In an MSPB hearing, compensatory damages often include a lump-sum payment for out-of-pocket costs you incurred because of the unjust action.

Medical bills, therapy costs, and relocation costs (stemming from an unjust termination) are all great examples of possible out-of-pocket costs that you can get compensation for.

Originally, it was not clear whether the MSPB could award compensatory damages.

However, the agency has repeatedly reiterated that it has the power to award compensatory damages in certain situations. 


Reinstatement is a common remedy if your employer demoted you or fired you. If the MSPB finds in your favor, they may order the employee’s reinstatement to their former position.

Punishing Bad Actors

In certain situations, the MSPB can take action against employees who retaliate against you for whistleblowing.

Specifically, the MSPB can order an agency to take the following disciplinary actions to reprimand, suspend, demote, or even remove the offender.

In fact, the MSPB can also prohibit the bad actor from working for the federal government for up to five years and fine them up to $1000.

Attorneys’ fees

If the MSPB finds that the employee’s appeal was meritorious, the MSPB may order the government to pay the employee’s reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Types of Damage You Cannot Receive in an MSPB Hearing

The MSPB is a unique kind of judicial forum. That means that there are some key differences from federal and state courts.

Not all damages available in federal and state courts are an option before the MSPB.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages attempt to punish a bad actor for particularly outrageous conduct.

Punitive damages also serve to deter similar conduct in the future and are rarely awarded on their own. However, the MSPB does not have the authority to award MSPB damages.

Nominal Damages

Nominal damages are a type of damage you can receive in a federal lawsuit if you have a technical injury without suffering any actual financial loss.

Nominal damages recognize that your employer violated one of your legal rights yet also admit that no actual harm was done to you.

Thinking About Requesting an MSPB Hearing? Let Us Give You the Representation You Deserve.

It’s important to note that the availability of damages and the types of damages that can be recovered will depend on the specific laws and circumstances of each case.

In addition, you can appeal the MSPB’s decisions to a federal court, which may modify or reverse the MSPB’s award of damages.

For all these reasons, you need to have an attorney represent you. And not just any attorney will do. You need a dedicated attorney with a sterling reputation and ample experience in federal employment cases.

Fortunately, all of us at the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing PLLC are ready to bring you outstanding and compassionate representation.

More than that, we care deeply about protecting your federal career and preserving your legal rights. Unlike many other attorneys, we focus our practice on federal employment issues.

That means we know exactly how to give our clients the most effective legal representation available before the MSPB. Don’t sacrifice your future.

Call us 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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