If you are a federal employee, you may have a case before the Merit Systems Protection Board, or MSPB. Employment cases that go before the MSPB are usually federal disciplinary cases. According to the MSPB, that means suspensions of more than 14 days, demotions or removals from federal service.

The MSPB is a quasi-judicial agency in the federal government that is charged with adjudicating these disciplinary cases, along with other cases related to OPM veterans’ reemployment rights, and other really specific federal issues. So what is it about the MSPB that requires you to hire a representative? Well, the MSPB has some very unforgiving deadlines. For example, typically in the federal employees’ disciplinary life cycle, it starts where you receive a proposal letter, and then the disciplinary action becomes final once you receive a decision letter.

You only have 30 days from receiving the decision letter to appeal the case to the MSPB. If you fail to file within 30 days, even one day late, you can lose the right to follow your appeal and challenge that disciplinary action. Additionally, once your case is before the MSPB, the deadlines are equally unforgiving. For example, the judges typically lay out the timelines for the case in something called an acknowledgment order.

This acknowledgment order is very important, and it is kind of the foundation for your case going forward. Typically, judges only allow the parties 30 days to initiate discovery. If you fail to initiate discovery within those 30 days, you can lose your right to gaining discovery from the other party. Litigating a case without the benefit of discovery is like fighting someone with an arm tied behind your back. You simply do not want to do it. That is why it is really important that you hire a representative early on during the life cycle of your MSPB case.

This information is not legal advice.