By William Wiley, February 27, 2018

We love our questioners. Recently, we got an inquiry regarding an article written by one of our favorite authors. Here’s our response:

Dear Employment Law Gurus,

I read this article from Government Executive this morning. I would love to know your opinion of the premise of the article, basically it is too hard to fire federal employees, and the scenario the author provides.

Thank you.

And here’s our guru-like response:

Thanks for your query. These are exactly the sorts of misunderstandings we love to address.

The author has expanded the scenario to make a valid point. As we have taught in our classes for years and provide as part of our consulting services, he is implementing, as is typical in many agencies, more actions than required by law. An FELTG-Certified practitioner would never do these things.

His list and our alternative:

Employee’s supervisor looks the other way First mistake. We teach supervisors to act immediately upon seeing misconduct.


Oral counseling Not required. Lehnerd v. OPM, 55 MSPR 170 (1992)


Written counseling   Not required and generally a bad idea because the employee will claim reprisal.


Written admonishment        Not required; potential reprisal claim same as above.


Reprimand Yes! Finally, the supervisor does what we teach should be done on day one.


Short suspension Can do. However, we teach to bargain with the employee to accept a Reprimand in Lieu of Suspension. No grievance that way.


15-day suspension Never! Why do something the employee can appeal to MSPB? Besides, unnecessary and of unproven value.


Proposed removal Yes! Should have been done after the Reprimand in Lieu of Suspension.


Injury after removal proposed Not in the FELTG world. We put the employee on Notice Leave so he is not in the workplace. No workers’ comp 45 days there.


Demands to be retrained     No entitlement to be retrained.


Reassigned Should have issued the decision to remove that was proposed earlier.


I know and respect this author. His scenario does indeed happen way too often. However, trained individuals know how keep this from happening:

  1. Reprimand,
  2. Reprimand in Lieu of Suspension,
  3. Removal.

Yes, appeals, grievances, complaints, and ULPs happen, but that’s the price we pay for a protected civil service. If you know what you’re doing, you can keep them down to a minimum, and always win them. As we’ve been screaming at the tops of our little FELTG-voices for nearly 20 years, it’s not the system as much as it is a lack of people who understand the system that’s the problem.

Come to our training. Learn the program. Be a Systems Superstar. We love this stuff. [email protected]


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