Legal Reference

1615 M Street, NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20419
Phone: (202) 653-7200, (800) 209-8960, V/TDD (800) 877-8339

The Board’s principal functions are to:


• hear and decide federal employee appeals of major personnel actions taken by agencies—including removals, demotions, and suspensions of more than 14 days; appeals of decisions by the Office of Personnel Management in retirement matters; and appeals of personnel actions involving discrimination or reprisal for whistleblowing;

• hear and decide other civil service cases, including actions brought by the Office of Special Counsel involving alleged prohibited personnel practices or violations of the Hatch Act, actions brought by agencies against administrative law judges, and requests to review regulations of the Office of Personnel Management;

• conduct studies of the civil service and other merit systems in the executive branch to determine whether they are free of prohibited personnel practices; and • review the significant actions of OPM to determine whether they are in accord with merit principles and are free of prohibited personnel practices.

Administrative judges in the Board’s regional and field offices issue initial decisions on federal employee appeals and related matters such as attorney fee and enforcement cases. The three-member Board issues decisions on review of initial decisions of its judges, as well as decisions in other civil service cases. The Board also produces studies on such merit system issues as sexual harassment in the workplace, reprisal for whistleblowing, and the glass ceiling affecting the advancement of women.

Employees with negotiated grievance rights (see above) may be able to use that route to challenge many of the same types of actions that can be challenged through the MSPB process. However, those who choose the negotiated grievance route are prohibited from switching to the MSPB process.

The Board is responsible for assuring compliance with the merit system principles in government (see Chapter 3 for list).

The majority of the cases are appeals of agency adverse actions—that is, removals, suspensions of more than 14 days, reductions in grade or pay, and furloughs of 30 days or less. Other types of actions that may be appealed to the Board include: performance-based removals or reductions in grade, denials of within-grade salary increases, reduction-in-force actions, OPM suitability determinations, OPM employment practices, OPM determinations in retirement matters, denials of restoration or reemployment rights, and terminations of probationary employees under certain circumstances.