Trump Pick to Lead MSPB Seeks to Limit Hearings, Charge Federal Employees to File Cases, and Hold Secret Meetings

In his opening speech to the 2017 MSPB Summit hosted by the Federal Circuit Bar Association, MSPB Acting Chair Mark Robbins, designated by President Trump on January 23, 2017, announced his new initiative to impose changes to Board practices and procedures.

The first priority announced in his self-described “wish list,” is to exempt himself from the Sunshine in Government Act of 19761 so that he and other anticipated Trump appointees to the Board may hold closed-door, off-the-record meetings to deliberate and issue decisions of the Board. Robbins indicated that he believed the post-Watergate reform law inhibited his ability to quickly issue decisions affecting the rights of federal employees and whistleblowers.

Additionally Robbins announced that he wanted to allow federal agencies to seek summary dismissal of employees’ claims without allowing the case to be heard by an administrative judge. Although the MSPB does not currently allow for parties to seek summary judgment, and the statute which established the MSPB does not set forth such a practice, Robbins nevertheless seeks to curtail federal employees’ rights.

Finally, Robbins announced that he wanted to impose barriers for employees to seek an appeal before the MSPB. Such barriers include a filing fee of up to several hundred dollars, matching U.S. District Courts filing fees; and monetary sanctions imposed against employees for filing claims which they do not win. Robbins did not specify how much such fees and fines would cost employees who choose to exercise their rights. At this time neither the EEOC nor the MSPB impose filing fees or sanction employees who lose a case with monetary fines.

The attorneys at Gilbert Employment Law are dedicated to protecting your rights as federal civil servants and whistleblowers. We do not support the newly announced policy agenda of Acting Chair Robbins.

If you believe your civil service and whistleblower rights have been violated please contact us to schedule a consultation.

[1] 5 U.S.C. § 552b.