Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Barry Loudermilk (GA) that would upend the current adverse action procedures under title 5 United States Code for employee removals. H.R. 559, titled the Modern Employment Reform, Improvement, and Transformation Act of 2017, or so-called “MERIT Act,” was introduced with several original cosponsors: Congressmen Austin Scott (GA), Grothman (WI), Barr (KY), Messer (IN), Babin (TX), Arrington (TX), and Bishop (MI).
Under the bill, agency heads would be able to propose removal of an employee based on performance or misconduct, with seven to 21 days written notice. The employee’s limited opportunity to respond would be required to occur before the last day of employment (within the seven- to 21- day possible time frame in the notice period), and there would be no right to be represented by an attorney, union official or any other representative. While an appeal of the removal would still be allowed under the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB), it would be required to be made not more than seven days after the date of the removal and the MSPB would only have 30 days in which to issue a decision, based on substantial evidence. If the MSPB were unable to act within the 30 days, the agency head’s removal would be considered final.
While we have seen similar proposals to weaken employee protections before, we are concerned that they may receive renewed attention by the current Congress. NTEU and its allies on Capitol Hill are working to stop these legislative attacks on employees—and our right to represent employees—from becoming law.