The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is an independent government agency that plays a federal role in protecting the rights of federal employees.
Specifically, it evaluates claims of prohibited personnel practices while also adjudicating the appeals of federal employees.
Although federal employees can submit complaints to other agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Special Counsel, the MSPB is the primary group responsible for protecting federal employees against improper or discriminatory discipline. Consequently, every federal employee needs to understand what the MSPB has jurisdiction over.
If you’re currently appealing an adverse action or considering filing an MSPB appeal, you’ll want to read this article to grasp what is and is not within the MSPB’s jurisdiction.
What Is Jurisdiction?
Merriam-Webster defines jurisdiction as “the power, right, or authority to interpret and apply the law.” Jurisdiction is a powerful concept in the legal world.
Before anything else, a court must have the undisputed ability to hear a claim. If the court does not have jurisdiction, then it is impossible for either party in a lawsuit to prevail.
Consequently, jurisdiction is one of the biggest factors attorneys consider when they meet with a client.
The law empowers different courts with different kinds of jurisdictions.
For instance, state appeals courts have appellate jurisdiction—or the power to evaluate the decisions of a lower state court. Federal courts have federal jurisdiction, while state courts have state jurisdiction.
Most courts need three kinds of jurisdiction to hear a case:
- The jurisdiction to hear a case involving a particular party (personal jurisdiction);
- The jurisdiction over the subject matter (subject matter jurisdiction); and
- The jurisdiction over a certain geographic area (territorial jurisdiction).
For specialized judicial agencies like the MSPB, there are specific limits to the kinds of appeals it can hear.
What Kinds of Appeals Are Not Within the MSPB’s Jurisdiction?
By federal law, the MSPB has appellate jurisdiction over most adverse actions taken by federal agencies against their employees.
However, there are many kinds of appeals that fall outside the MSPB’s jurisdiction.
Minor Disciplinary Actions
The MSPB has jurisdiction to hear appeals of adverse actions. Adverse actions include things like removals, suspensions longer than 14 days, and losses of grade or pay.
Short suspensions, reprimands, and letters of warning do not qualify as adverse actions. Therefore, a federal employee cannot appeal these actions to the MSPB.
Appeals Brought by Probationary Employees
All federal employees undergo a probationary period when they first join the federal service. Typically, this probationary period lasts between one and two years.
During this time, federal employees have fewer rights, which means their employer can fire them more easily.
Consequently, probationary employees cannot file an appeal to the MSPB even if they are the target of a removal action or a long suspension. That said, there are two exceptions to this rule.
The MSPB will hear the appeals of probationary employees if those employees assert that their employer disciplined them either because of their partisan political beliefs or because of their marital status.
Complaints Brought by State-Government or Private-Sector Employees
The MSPB can only hear the appeals of federal employees. Every state in the US has its own unique system of evaluating the complaints and dismissals of state government employees.
Accordingly, state employees must follow their state’s respective appeals system.
Wondering If the MSPB Has No Jurisdiction Over Your Appeal? We Can Help.
Now that you know the phrase “no jurisdiction” and its meaning, you may be curious about the consequences for your situation.
Perhaps you are a probationary employee who was recently fired. Or maybe you believe your employer discriminated against you when it suspended you for seven days.
While you may not be able to file an MSPB appeal, you may have other legal options.
Our attorneys at the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D Wersing PLLC focus solely on representing federal employees.
That means they understand all the nuances of federal employment law.
When you set up a consultation with us, we can help you understand your legal options and give you the five-star representation you deserve. Call us today or visit our website to set up your initial consultation.