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MSPB: What is the difference between an

MSPB: What is the difference between an "Adverse Action" and a "Disciplinary Action"?

A question folks frequently ask when contacting my Firm is an explanation of the difference between a “disciplinary action” or an “adverse action”.

A “Disciplinary Action” is a suspension of 14 days or less, written letter of reprimand, or oral counseling. Aside from truly egregious misconduct, an Agency will usually propose a disciplinary action before taking more serious steps. Disciplinary actions lay the groundwork for Agencies to successfully take an adverse action. In most Agencies, bargaining unit employees can challenge disciplinary actions through their negotiated grievance process or through the Agency’s grievance process. Supervisors and non-bargaining unit employees may challenge disciplinary actions through the Agency’s grievance process (if the Agency actually has one). No disciplinary action is appelable to the MSPB.

Adverse actions are suspensions of 15 days or more, downgrades, demotions, and removals. (Constructive actions – constructive suspension or removal, involuntary resignation or retirement may be adverse actions, but more on that another day). All adverse actions are appealable to the MSPB – so long as the employee has MSPB appeal rights.

If you are not sure if you have MSPB Appeal Rights, or if you would like to speak to an MSPB attorney about a proposed disciplinary or adverse action, contact the Law Offices of Eric L. Pines, PLLC today.


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