Did your Federal Agency's Reduction in Force Result in a Demotion?

When can I Challenge a Reduction in Force?

In general, reduction in force actions are not appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board. However, if the reduction in force results in the demotion of a federal employee, it is likely that recourse is available in the form of an MSPB appeal.

MSPB case law indicates that a demotion appealable to the Board is any personnel action taken against a federal employee who, while employed with the Agency, is assigned to:

  1. A lower grade position in the same Agency, even though both the old and new positions are under the General Schedule (GS Grade) or under the same type graded wage schedule; or
  2. A position with a lower rate of pay, even though both the old and the new positions are under the same ungraded wage schedule, or are in different pay categories.

In the precedent setting case of Smith v. Department of the Air Force, the Appellant’s basic pay was increased by a change to lower grade, however, the Board found that the change to a lower grade put the Appellant in a different pay method category than her previous position. As a result, the Board held that it had jurisdiction over the Appeal of the reduction in force action, and the Air Force must now prove by preponderant evidence that the demotion was for the efficiency of the service.

The Smith decision has in essence opened the door for federal employees to appeal reductions in force under some circumstances.

Only a qualified federal employment attorney can assess the merits of your case to determine if your reduction in force action resulted in a demotion which could be appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board. If you feel you were demoted as a result of a reduction in force action, a federal employment attorney with the Solomon Law Firm, PLLC can evaluate the merits of your case.