Workforce

Broad group of feds deemed ineligible for MSPB protection

vacant desk

Feds who work with sensitive information can be fired without Merit Systems Protection Board review, a court has ruled. (Stock image)

A federal appeals court decision that curtails the rights of some federal workers in dealing with sensitive information is drawing stark criticism from unions and watchdog groups. The Aug. 20 ruling would extend the exemption for review performed by the Merit Systems Protection Board to dismissals and demotions of employees involved in sensitive but noncritical national security information. The vote was 7-3.

The Associated Press reported that MSPB had argued the exemption only applied to employees involved in classified information. But Judge Evan Wallach, in his majority opinion, wrote that employees don't need access to classified information to affect national security.

The American Federation of Government Employees "is disappointed that the Court of Appeals dismissed our appeal and with it the due process rights of tens of thousands of current and future federal workers," AFGE president David Cox said in a statement. "AFGE's appeal had challenged the denial of due process appeal rights for employees seeking review before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) after having been found ineligible to occupy 'noncritical sensitive' positions."

Cox pledged that AFGE will "leave no stone unturned in this litigation as long as the appeal rights of our members are at stake."

The Government Accountability Project condemned the decision as an activist court ruling.

"The court created a 'sensitive jobs loophole' without citing any direct legal authority, and openly backed a proposed administration rule to declare virtually any job as national security sensitive," GAP declared in an Aug. 20  blog post.

About the Author

Reid Davenport is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him on Twitter: @ReidDavenport.

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