And why is it important? Due process is shorthand for all of the procedural requirements that occur in litigation. You expect that when you are accused of “wrongdoing,” that you will have an opportunity to defend yourself. Within the federal employment system, due process is relatively elaborate, and while politicians whine when expedient about the difficulty in firing federal workers, there are thousands of terminations that occur every year to federal workers.
It in only in juxtaposition to the virtually nonexistent due process rights of most American workers that the federal employee’s due process rights appear extravagant. Most workers in the U.S. are considered “at will,” meaning an employer may fire them at any time for any reason, as long as it is not an illegal, discriminatory reason.
And because “at will” workers have no rights to contest a firing, the merit-based hiring protections are, comparatively, tedious to navigate. A supervisor must have genuine documented reasons for a termination.
Many supervisors or managers are poor at putting together a coherent set of reasons for firing an employee, and often, this is why an employee can succeed when they appeal an adverse job action or termination to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
And we all must remember the reason the federal civil service uses a merit-based process is to prevent the political corruption that results from the “spoils systems,” where political parties would provide government jobs to members of their party upon election. This system functions poorly, as workers are hired because of their party affiliation, not because of their abilities.
All Americas should be concerned by the potential of Congress to attempt irreparable harm to functioning of essential government agencies.
Washingtonpost.com, “Due process for feds protects against spoils system, report says,” Joe Davidson, May 12, 2015