The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently fighting to protect civil
service and federal agents from firing procedures as expedited as that
which FBI Director James Comey faced in recent news. Last week, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit seemingly sided with the
VA after it re-granted VA senior executives the right to
appeal terminations up to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Legislation backed by both Democrats and Republicans could already jeopardize
this decision, however.
The Washington Post recently discussed what is going on with
Debra D’Agostino of the Federal Practice Group to benefit from her experience and insight.
Speeding Up the Process Hurts Employee Protections
Attorney D’Agostino explained during her interview that attempting
to expedite the firing process of civil servants, specifically those employed
by the Department of Veterans Affairs, effectively “eliminat[es]
two layers of review.” In a matter as sensitive as terminating a
federal employee, the more review conducted, the better.
Comey’s sudden firing raised alarms across federal agencies. As a
political appointee, he did not have the same protections as the average
federal employee. But, if the bipartisan bill in the works passes, the
same rapid procedures to terminate an agent or civil service employee
could exist. Multiple review layers helps protect against graft and corruption
that could arise if an expedited system is permitted to become the norm.
The VA Accountability First Act has since been approved by the House. It
boasts that expedited procedures would cut department costs, protect the
American people from internal abuses from “bad VA employees,”
and also reinforce whistleblower protections. These results are speculative
of the impact of the bill. The actual language of the Act allows for department
terminations to occur with a lowered burden of proof, and for appeals,
to administrative panels and the MSPB board, to be filed in a shortened
amount of time.
If you would like to read the Washington Post article featuring Attorney
D’Agostino in full,
to visit the news group’s website. If you are a federal employee
facing unjust retaliation or other legal complexities in the workplace,
you can rely on The Federal Practice Group for assistance and representation
to connect with our team trial attorneys. We help clients around the world,
so do not hesitate to