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Frequently Asked Questions Employee Relations

How should I decide whether to suspend, demote, or remove?

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 employee 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 the penalty.

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