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This answer depends largely on whether you proceed under Part 432 or
Part 752. Under Part 432, you have the option of demotion or removal
and you do not have to defend your reasoning for choosing either action.
As was noted in Figure C, mitigation to a lesser action by a third
party is not possible. So, if you meet the requirements of proving that
the employee was unacceptable, even after being
given an opportunity to improve, no third party can challenge your
reasons for removing instead of demoting the employee. Therefore, your
decision is based on your analysis of whether the employee can function
acceptably in a lower graded position or not. Some agencies may have
policies that require supervisors to explore demotion options before
going to removal, but that policy would be an internal policy, not
one that governs all Federal supervisors.
However, reduction in the agency-selected penalty, known as
mitigation, is a possibility in any action taken under Part 752.
Therefore, you will need to explain in any decision notice, and possibly
in a proposal notice as well, what factors led you to believe that your
chosen action (suspension, demotion, or removal) was the right one.
Most supervisors who have taken any kind of adverse action against an
have been told about the Douglas factors. This is a reference to a
decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board that listed 12 factors
that might be taken into consideration when deciding on the appropriate
penalty in any adverse action. Your human resources office will be able
to provide you with a copy of these factors. At this point, it is
sufficient to understand that the factors force a deciding official to
examine any issues that might support a more severe penalty as well as
those circumstances that would convince the deciding official to lower
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