Do federal employees have the right to disregard presidential orders or
administration policies they believe are illegal? That is a question that
arose over Trump’s travel ban, which restricted immigration from
certain Muslim majority countries, and may continue to arise if his influx
of executive orders continue.
It is a tricky topic and refusing to implement policies, even when on the
right side of the law, can have dangerous ramifications for federal employees.
Case in point would be the now former acting attorney general Sally Yates
who refused to defend Trump’s order in court. Shortly after her
memo to the Justice Department, Yates was fired.
According to Debra D’Agostino, founding partner of the Federal Practice Group, employees need to obey
orders, but they can later challenge the validity. However, D’Agostino
also noted that sometimes “a federal employee may have to make a
judgement call like any private sector employee would as to whether the
benefits of the job override the employee’s objection to the employer’s
policy and agenda.” With a few safeguards already in place for federal
employees who refuse to follow illegitimate orders, and more on the way,
perhaps following what is just as opposed to following orders will not
be as costly.
With an administration that seems exceptionally hostile toward those who
express their dissent, taking a stand against policies that violate the
Constitution, statutes, or regulations is something some employees are
ready to take, despite the fear of retaliation.
The Federal Practice Group offers experienced and informed legal counsel
worldwide, known for dedicated, affordable, and effective representation
in federal and international laws. If you are facing a challenging legal
matter, discuss it with a member of our renowned team.
We offer consultations. Call us at (888) 488-1774.