How Should Federal Employees Respond To Proposed Discipline?
The US government is one of the country’s largest employers. It also follows different practices and procedures than private sector employers. One significant difference lies in how federal employees are disciplined. Are you facing agency-proposed disciplinary action? Before you act, learn how this process works and some best practices for federal employees responding to disciplinary action.
Types of Discipline
Government agencies can take many adverse and disciplinary actions against federal employees. The one(s) your agency chooses depends on your alleged misconduct, disciplinary history, past performance, and other factors. Examples of proposed discipline for federal employees include:
- A letter of reprimand that remains in your personnel file
- Suspension prohibiting you from working and receiving pay for a set amount of time
- Demotion to a lower role with less pay
- Termination from agency employment
The Disciplinary Process for Federal Employees
Federal agencies must follow specific steps before disciplining employees. Here’s a broad overview of how the process works:
- Collect evidence of the alleged misconduct or poor performance.
- Provide written notice of the proposed disciplinary action, the charges against you, and the supporting facts. This notice should provide a deadline for responding, give you the right to review the evidence, and explain that you can seek legal counsel.
- Allow the employee time to respond in writing and/or orally.
- Consider any reply from the employee when deciding whether to proceed with the proposed discipline.
- Provide written notice of the final decision and implement the disciplinary action, if applicable.
Responding to Proposed Discipline
When you receive a notice of the proposed disciplinary action, the first step is to request the evidence file. You may also request an extension to respond and express your desire to present an oral reply.
Next, compose a written response, which should include:
- Your employment background
- The charges against you and why they are not true or do not constitute misconduct or poor performance under the law
- Mitigating factors to refute the agency’s claims
- Supporting information, such as medical records or coworker statements
Seriously consider presenting an oral response as well. This personalizes the situation for the agency’s decision-maker and lets you highlight key arguments on why the proposed discipline isn’t warranted. Be mindful of your words, tone, and demeanor when presenting your oral reply, as these could affect the outcome of your case.
If the agency moves forward with its proposed discipline, you can still appeal the decision. Be aware that appeals tend to focus on errors in the legal process rather than facts established earlier in the case.
How a Federal Employment Lawyer Can Help
This guide is for informational purposes only. Because every situation is unique, it’s critical to consult a federal employment lawyer before responding to proposed discipline. This legal professional will account for the nuanced aspects of the proposed federal disciplinary actions and the particulars of your background when recommending how to formulate your written and oral responses.
Seek a Referral From Aumiller Lomax
The team at Aumiller Lomax is committed to helping federal employees understand their rights. As federal workers’ compensation lawyers, we can help you file a claim if you have been injured performing your government duties. If you’re facing federal employee proposed discipline, we can refer you to a reliable federal employment lawyer who offers the services you need. Call us at 856-751-0440 or contact us online for more information.