The sequester and government agency furloughs may have dropped from the headlines, as the cable news cycle goes after the IRS and NSA stories, but the affects of the furlough are still moving throughout the federal agencies, and the legal actions resulting from those furloughs are beginning to enter the legal process.
When a federal employee is subjected to an “adverse personnel action,” they can appeal the action to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), which is described as a “quasi-judicial” entity that adjudicates these disputes. The MSPB has received 140 appeals by the beginning of June relating to sequestration furloughs.
The first set of appeals stem from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) one day furlough of employees. This is potentially the beginning of a wave appeals that could arrive at the agency. The general counsel for the MSPB indicated that situation is “unprecedented” and that they are “taking a wait-and-see approach” to the potential crush of appeals they could receive.
If a significant portion of the 650,000 Defense Department’s employees who may be furloughed appeal their cases to the MSPB, the agency could be swamped, as it only employs 204 employees in Washington, D.C., and nationwide.
The MSPB hears 6,000 cases in an average year, so even a small percentage of appeals from Defense Department furloughs could overwhelm the MSPB. The general consul commented that, “There’s really no roadmap” for the situation.
One government union official said they are urging all of their members to appeal furlough issues. The union vowed to “fight every battle.”
Source: Government Executive, “MSPB Could Face ‘Unprecedented’ Wave of Furlough Appeals,” Eric Katz, June 5, 2013