Misc. Topics • 17 June 2019
MSPB Reaches Three Years Without a Quorum

Imagine you have a court case. You lost your job, have been suspended, disciplined, or maybe retaliated against for whistleblowing. You are a federal employee, and you want to appeal the decision. You have to go through specific procedures to make your appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). But there is a problem.

The problem is that the MSPB is not meeting right now. It has not convened for the past three years — since January 2017. Why? The board has no members[i]

According to its 2019 Annual Report[ii] at the end of FY 2019 the board had a backlog of 2,529 cases. During this time period, the MSPB has published its newsletter, and it has released four articles or legal briefs.

“That 2,500 number does represent 2,500 cases where individuals are choosing to get in line to wait for a board to come,” Tristan Leavitt, MSPB general counsel, said in an interview with Federal News Network. “It’s a large number, by far the largest backlog there’s ever been at MSPB.” [iii]

“The extensive backlog of cases continues to grow, and that means employee appeals are left unresolved. We hope the administration and the Senate can agree on nominees who will be fair and impartial and start the long process of chipping away at the backlog and restoring the full effectiveness of this important agency,” says Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union. iii

The report states that the MSPB is faced with staffing challenges. “Over 35 percent of all MSPB employees, including over 47 percent of permanent AJs and adjudication managers involved with processing initial appeals, are eligible to retire between the end of FY 2019 and the end of 2022. It is also challenging to ensure continued expertise when employees in critical, one-deep positions depart the agency through retirement or transfer.” ii

Federal employees may, in some cases, have other options for judicial relief beyond the MSPB. In some instances, they can file a case with the appropriate federal court and may be able to bring appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or other appeals courts, though exceptions do apply.

The backlog at MSPB means that even if new appointees are found to form a quorum, it may take years to catch up. If you are faced with an employment issue, you may decide you want to move the process forward in the courts. However, you are likely to be concerned about a few things. Can you cover the costs? Will your case be handled properly? What are your options to resolve it?

Going to court can be expensive no matter how it’s handled. In addition, the courts have very complex and demanding rules. If you represent yourself and don’t follow the correct procedures, your case can be lost or dismissed. That’s why you need to ensure you have the right resources. Federal Employee Professional Liability Insurance (FEPLI) is one important resource to help you address certain employment issues. In fact, it is so important to have, that the federal government has mandated that qualified employees must receive up to 50 percent reimbursement of the cost from their agency. Agencies such as Starr Wright USA provide this.

FEPLI coverage can cover employees for the costs of legal representation while a qualifying claim is resolved. Attorneys are specialists in federal employment law. They can ensure that procedures are followed properly and that filing deadlines are met. In addition, they can advise you about what your legal options are to address your case.

Starr Wright USA customers have a track record of obtaining successful results in a wide variety of federal employment positions. The insurance has helped thousands of federal employees.

With the MSPB lacking a quorum and the buildup of cases it has created, federal employees need to know what else they can do to resolve their employment issues. Starr Wright USA can not only provide guidance about how to proceed but also can also help you secure legal representation. Legal fees are expensive, but FEPLI coverage is affordable — find out more today at wrightusa.com

[i] 

[ii] 

[iii] 

Article authored by and contains the opinions of Starr Wright USA; the article is offered solely for informational purposes.


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