Federal Employee Disciplinary Action Attorneys

Replies to Proposed Disciplinary or Adverse Actions

As a federal employee, you likely expect that your career will last for years, possibly decades, until your voluntary retirement. While there is a well-known myth that it is impossible to fire a federal employee, the reality is that the federal government removes thousands of federal employees every year. If you find your federal career at risk, contacted an attorney on the federal employment team at The Federal Practice Group, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and representing federal employees nationwide.

In some cases, an agency’s decision to remove a federal employee may be appropriate under the relevant federal employment laws. In other cases, the agency’s charges against an employee might not be justified, or the proposed penalty may be overly harsh in light of the circumstances, including that the federal employee has had a long and otherwise unblemished career with the federal government. If you are a federal employee who has been charged with misconduct or poor performance and are facing proposed discipline — e.g., suspension of up to 14 days, reprimand — or an adverse action — e.g., removal, demotion to a lower grade, suspension of more than 14 days — you have rights under federal employment law, and The Federal Practice Group’s expert federal employment law team can provide the tough and smart representation you need to protect your career and reputation. If you are a federal employee who needs to reply to proposed discipline or removal, finding the right attorney is vital.

Mounting a Federal Employee Misconduct Charge Defense

If your agency believes you have committed misconduct or your performance is unacceptable, you will be issued a notice of a proposed disciplinary or adverse action, which will identify the charge(s) against you, such as lack of candor, insubordination, conduct unbecoming, or unacceptable performance, among others. As a federal employee, when your agency is proposing a disciplinary or adverse action for alleged misconduct or poor performance, you have the right to have an attorney represent you to reply to the charges brought against you.

The federal employment law team at the Federal Practice Group is well versed in the charges that may be levied by your federal agency against you, the reply process, and the due process rights you have as a federal employee, including your right to view any evidence your federal agency is relying on in proposing discipline or an adverse action, so that you can appropriately respond and defend yourself and your federal career.

Our federal disciplinary and adverse action attorneys have the knowledge and experience to represent you in this area. We have worked with federal employees for many years, and we can advise you from an experienced perspective on things such as:

  • What a federal disciplinary or adverse action proposal means
  • How to reply to proposed discipline or adverse action
  • When to fight removal from federal service

What Rights Do I Have If I Am Issued a Notice of Proposed Disciplinary or Adverse Action?

If you receive a Notice of Proposed Disciplinary or Adverse Action, federal employment laws give you  rights to defend yourself and your federal career. You should consider seeking legal counsel of an attorney proficient in federal employment law right away, as your reputation and federal career may be on the line.

In the federal sector, your rights when you are charged with committing misconduct or poor performance depend on the severity of the penalty being proposed.

A disciplinary action is defined as:

  • Letter of Reprimand (lowest level – note a Letter of Counseling is NOT considered a disciplinary action)
  • Suspension of 14 days or less

An Adverse Action is defined by Title 5 as:

  • A Suspension of 15 days or more
  • A Change to a Lower Grade (Demotion)
  • A Removal from federal employment

What Happens When You Receive Notice of Proposed Disciplinary or Adverse Action?

In other forums, such as in an EEO complaint, the term “adverse action” may have a different meaning. If you are not sure whether the action being proposed or taken against you is an adverse action triggering due process rights, contact a federal employment attorney at The Federal Practice Group.

Before an agency imposes a disciplinary action, i.e., a suspension for 14 days or less or a reprimand, a federal employee is entitled to:

  1. An advance written notice stating the specific reasons for the proposed action;
  2. A reasonable time to answer orally and in writing and to furnish affidavits and other documentary evidence;
  3. Represented by an attorney or other representative; and
  4. A written decision and the specific reasons therefor at the earliest practicable date.

Before an agency imposes an adverse action, i.e., a suspension for more than 14 days, a change to lower grade, reduction in pay, or a removal action, an employee is entitled to due process rights including:

  1. At least 30 days’ advance written notice of the charge(s) against you and the proposed penalty;
  2. View the “materials relied upon” to propose the action — or the evidence against you;
  3. A reasonable time, but not less than seven days, to answer orally and in writing and to furnish affidavits and other documentary evidence in support of the answer;
  4. Be represented by an attorney or other representative; and
  5. A written decision and the specific reasons therefor at the earliest practicable date.

How Can a Federal Disciplinary and Adverse Action Attorney Help?

While a Letter of Reprimand will only remain in your Official Personnel File (OPF) for one to three years, documentation of any suspension, change to lower grade/demotion, or removal from federal service will remain in your OPF indefinitely, and can obviously greatly impact your reputation, income, and possibly the rest of your career either with the federal government or even in the private sector, in the case of a removal.

Therefore, it is crucial to reply to any allegations of misconduct, proposed removal or poor performance against you, and that you take advantage of all the rights afforded to you under federal employment laws. A federal employee attorney familiar with the federal government’s disciplinary process will ensure you and the agency follow the right procedures and that you do everything you can to fight for yourself. We offer knowledgeable and experienced legal representation, including expertise in dealing with the intelligence community, to give you the advice and perspective you need.

Where it is clear from the decision that the deciding official relied on “ex parte” information in making the decision, i.e., information not provided to the employee in advance of the reply, a due process violation may be found. A due process violation may also be found if insufficient notice is provided or if the employee is denied the right to reply to the charges and any aggravating information being relied on to determine the appropriateness of the proposed penalty.

When the agency fails to afford due process, the MSPB must vacate the agency’s decision. If you are unsure of whether your due process rights may have been violated, the attorneys at The Federal Practice Group can help you assess the agency’s actions. We understand federal disciplinary proposals and can fight for you in one of the defining battles of your life.

Have Questions About a Notice of Proposed Removal or Discipline Proposal Reply? Contact Us Now

Federal employees should understand their rights when they receive proposed removal or discipline notices. Get in touch today to discuss the unique circumstances of your case and see how our skilled attorneys can assist you.


The proven attorneys at The Federal Practice Group have over a century of combined experience successfully assisting federal employees through the most difficult periods of their lives and careers.