This post is part of a continuing series describing the general discovery tools available to Federal Employees who are Appellants before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and/or Complainants before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Both the MSPB and the EEOC afford Appellants (or Complainants) the opportunity to pursue discovery. While the timelines and the amounts of discovery allowed are quite different, the basic ideas of what discovery is and how it should be used are very similar.
There are six (6) primary types of discovery in litigation in the United States (click on the links for the particular type of discovery you want to read about:
1) Requests for Admission (topic of this post)
2) Requests for Interrogatories
3) Requests for Production
4) Motion for Entry
6) Depositions on Written Question.
Today’s topic is the “Request for Admissions”. What is a Request for Admission? It is a request that your opponent admit or deny the truth of any matter relevant to your claim.
Neither the MSPB nor the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure limit Requests for Admission. The EEOC does put a limit on the numbers of Requests for Admission. Why they do this, I am not sure – Requests for Admission can help to limit the number of truly disputed matters before the EEOC AJ. Nevertheless, you can always ask the Administrative Judge for leave to serve more Requests for Admission.
Requests for Admission are most commonly used to obtain from the other side an understanding of what is or what is not truly disputed (in terms of the facts) in your case. Knowing what is really disputed in your case makes it a lot easier for you to focus on what you have to prove in your case. It also helps the Judge write a more clear decision, as the Parties are not asking him or her to decide facts that they don’t dispute.
Unfortunately, all too many Agency attorneys routinely deny any request for admission, or don’t put the effort into working with the other side to refine Requests for Admission into clear requests that could be admitted or denied. Why? Mostly because they don’t know the case and are scared to have their client admit/deny anything.
The best use for Requests for Admission is to make a list of all facts that would prove or disprove your case, and decide which you think are truly not disputed or are truly disputed. Then, use the Requests for Admission to find out for sure.
For example, in an EEO case, if the Agency admits that you are over 40, then you don’t have to prove it up. But that’s an easy example – it’s not that hard to prove up. Let’s take a more complicated example.
In a reprisal case, you often need to prove that the individual taking the action against you (also known as the Alleged Discriminating Official) knew of your prior protected EEO activity before taking the action against you. This can be hard to prove, unless there is clear evidence already proving it. So, you would typically use 2-3 Requests for Admission to see if the Agency intends to dispute, and will force you to prove, the alleged discriminating official’s prior knowledge of your protected EEO activity.
Requests for Admission are one of three discovery tools (along with requests for production and depositions) that can help you to more efficiently prosecute your EEO Complaint or MSPB Appeal. Spend some time on them, learn about them, and you will reap a benefit at hearing.
No post on this website is legal advice, is meant to be legal advice, and certainly does not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Information is power, and we are providing this information to give you, the federal employee, with some power. This information is not widely or easily accessible to Federal Employees.
If you are a Federal Employee with questions about discovery before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and/or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and would like to speak with a lawyer about discovery at the MSPB or at the EEOC, or if you would like to discuss legal representation with an attorney before the MSPB or EEOC, contact the Law Office of Eric L. Pines, PLLC.