Suspensions are generally used as a disciplinary measure and often affect a federal employee’s duty or pay.

Depending on the offense, suspensions can be temporary or indefinite. If you are facing such a suspension, you still have legal rights, as outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 5, Part 752, Subpart B.

These federal employee suspension laws protect you, as a federal employee, if you are wrongfully suspended from work. You are not forced to blindly accept this action.

In this article, our Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) lawyers will review the different types of suspensions federal employees face and what they may do to combat them.

For a consultation to learn how we can assist you, please call (800) 801-0598 or fill out our online form today.


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Suspensions of 14 Days or Less

We all work to survive, pay our bills, and put food on the table. When you are out of work for any reason and for any amount of time, it can put a great strain on your finances and ability to pay for even the most basic of necessities.

Even a short suspension can be unpleasant and put your family in financial dire straits.

However, it’s important for federal employees to know that if a suspension is for less than 14 days, federal statutes provide you with certain rights and protections. Let’s look at an overview of your primary rights during this process.

Notification Requirement

Your agency must provide a written notice outlining the specific reasons for the proposed suspension. This notice should be clear and detailed, allowing you to understand the allegations against you.

Right to Review Supporting Materials

You have the right to review the materials the agency is relying on to support their decision to suspend you. This includes documentation, witness statements, or any other relevant evidence.

Time to Respond

The agency must grant you at least 24 hours to review the materials and prepare your response. You have the choice of making your response written or oral, and it is important to understand that challenging the suspension is considered a valid response.

Challenging the Suspension

Employees have the right to challenge the suspension. To initiate such a challenge, you would submit documentation and evidence that disproves or weakens the assertion that you committed the alleged offense. You also have the right to choose a representative to assist you during the response process.

Any of the following people can represent you and attempt to ensure that your rights are protected.

  • An attorney: A federal employment lawyer can provide specialized guidance and work diligently to protect your rights throughout the process.
  • A union representative: If you are part of a federal employee union, they may provide representation and support during a suspension from your job.
  • Another employee: You can choose another federal employee to represent you. However, their representation of you cannot interfere with their regular work duties.

Final Decision

Once you have submitted your response, the agency must provide you with a written final decision by the earliest predictable date. This time frame ensures a prompt resolution to the matter.

You need to familiarize yourself with your rights and the procedures involved in the suspension process. It is also best to consult with a federal employment lawyer for personalized guidance and legal representation. Our employment lawyers can help you navigate the federal employee suspension process effectively, ensuring fair treatment and that the due process of law is honored.

Questions about your MSPB appeal? Request a consultation online Or, call our office at (800) 801-0598

Suspensions of More Than 14 Days

When a federal workplace suspension lasts 15 days or more, agencies must follow different protocols and provide employees with enhanced rights and protections. Let’s examine the key differences in employee rights compared to suspensions under 14 days.

Extended Notice

Employees facing suspensions of more than 15 days are likely to encounter more significant financial consequences and hardships. Therefore, you are entitled to receive written notice of such an impending suspension at least 30 days before it is set to begin. This extended notice period allows you additional time to prepare a response and gather the evidence necessary to battle the suspension if you believe there are legitimate grounds to do so.

Continued Employment Until Suspension

Unlike shorter suspensions, employees facing suspensions that exceed 14 days in duration are entitled to continue working until the suspension officially starts. This allows them to maintain income and potentially mitigate any resulting financial hardship.

Additional Time to Respond

Recognizing the increased complexity of responding to a more serious disciplinary action, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) mandates a minimum of seven days to prepare a response. However, you may be granted additional time beyond the minimum if your job duties hinder the response process. This flexibility ensures you have adequate time to gather evidence, secure representation, and build a comprehensive response.

Like shorter suspensions, you retain the same right to representation, and the agency is required to provide a written decision at the earliest predictable date following receipt of your response.

Featured Case Result

WHAT HAPPENED: A VA employee received a proposed removal for inappropriate conduct and candor. We were able to mitigate it to a five-day suspension.

Indefinite Suspensions

If you are facing a suspension of indeterminate length, you may be wondering, How long is an indefinite suspension?

Indefinite suspensions, unlike shorter disciplinary actions, lack a predetermined end date. Your agency will usually lift the suspension when a specific event occurs.

Depending on the situation, this event could take different forms. But it usually calls for the employee to take proactive measures that the agency has identified.

Here are some common scenarios that can lead to an indefinite suspension.

  • Potential Criminal Charges: If an employer believes your actions might be criminal in nature and could result in imprisonment, they could impose an indefinite suspension pending the outcome of legal proceedings. In this case, a not-guilty verdict or dismissal of charges would typically signal the end of the suspension.
  • Medical Reasons: An indefinite suspension might be necessary when an employee experiences a mental health crisis or faces a medical condition that impacts their ability to perform their job duties safely. Successful completion of treatment and a doctor’s clearance would often be the conditions for reinstatement.
  • Loss of Security Clearance: If you are entrusted with classified information, losing your security clearance could significantly hinder your ability to fulfill your job responsibilities. In such cases, the suspension might remain in place until you regain access to the necessary security clearance.

Even if you are indefinitely suspended, your rights as a federal employee are guaranteed. You are entitled to the same rights as individuals facing suspensions of 15 days or more.

Indefinite suspensions can be financially and emotionally difficult. If you are facing such a suspension, it is wise to speak with an experienced federal MSPB attorney. They can educate you about your rights and help guide you to meet any conditions your employer requires of you to end the suspension. In short, an attorney can help you reach a resolution that allows you to return to work.

Contact an MSPB Attorney for Help

In situations involving federal employees, the details matter. If you were not given proper notice or were not informed of your right to answer, you may have a case against your suspension. Furthermore, the suspension itself could be without merit or fueled by bias.

Talk to an attorney before accepting your suspension. Allow them to overlook the details of your case. They may find inconsistencies in how you were informed of your suspension. A lawyer could also uncover facts that suggest you were wrongly accused or accused based on personal prejudice.

If you are facing an adverse action suspension, contact our office for a consultation.

Please call (800) 801-0598 or reach us online to get started.

[DOWNLOAD] MSPB Rights for Federal Employees