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For the last two years, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has failed to confirm nominees to fill leadership seats, resulting in a major backlog of federal disability appeals. After a Senate committee action in June, three nominees are now are ready to be confirmed by the full Senate.

The MSPB is the agency where federal employees go when they want to challenge disciplinary and other unfair workplace decisions made against them. Although administrative judges have continued to issue decisions, the MSPB’s governing board hasn’t been able to consider appeals of those decisions. The lack of actions caused a backlog of 2,151 cases, with another 1,000 expected to come in over the next year.

Regarding the uncertainty about which cases will get attention first and how long it might take for the agency to make its way through all of them, Tristan Leavitt, the MSPB general counsel and acting chief executive and administrative officer, said:

“It’s the board’s prerogative. There is no guide to how they ‘ought’ to do it. Many people have been waiting for two, two-and-a-half years and you don’t want to give anyone the impression they’re less important. People’s lives are really tied up in this, and we’re really cognizant of that.”

Although it is good news that the MSPB’s governing board will be fully functioning, it will likely take years to get all the way through the 2,151 cases. While the board was not issuing decisions, some attorneys were advising their clines file their appeals directly to federal court.

Despite the board not making decisions, MSPB staff are still working to analyze pending cases and laying the groundwork for potential decisions. However, a backlog of this size will require roughly a year or longer for the new members to learn their job expectations and the overall process before they find a productive rhythm.

Are you currently dealing with a federal disability appeal? Then call our law firm at (888) 898-9902 to speak with our attorneys. We are here to provide our clients with a wide range of legal services. Schedule your appointment today.

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Eric L. Pines is a nationally recognized federal employment lawyer, mediator, and attorney business coach. He represents federal employees and acts as in-house counsel for over fifty thousand federal employees through his work as a federal employee labor union representative.

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