Fedweek

SCOTUS: An agency’s failure to advise an employee of the terms of his appointment does not create appeal rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling involving a federal agency’s failure to inform employees of the impact on their appeal rights of taking a different job, the latest in a long line of cases involving the impact of agency giving employees insufficient—or wrong—information on career decisions.

The court refused to hear an appeal of a case from the Federal Circuit court of appeals focused on the rights granted under law for employees to challenge personnel actions and the jurisdiction of courts to hear such challenges. One issue was whether an employee who had served on a series of temporary appointments had the rights of appeal that would have been gained by someone who had served an equivalent time under a permanent appointment. The Federal Circuit decision agreed with the MSPB that the answer was no, a position the Supreme Court effectively now has endorsed.

In the process, the Federal Circuit decision rejected a previous MSPB ruling that had held that an employee could retain appeal rights of a prior position if the agency failed to inform him that a change in position might result in a loss of appeal rights. The court instead pointed to one of its own prior cases in which it held that “an agency’s failure to advise an employee of the terms of his appointment does not create appeal rights for positions that were not given appeal rights by Congress,” according to a summary by the MSPB.