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The Merit Systems Protection Board: What You Need to Know

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is a federal agency in the United States created to protect the rights of federal employees. Established in 1978 as an independent agency, the MSPB’s main agenda is to ensure the safety and protection of federal employees from prohibited personnel practices (PPP) such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower reprisal.

An essential factor in understanding the MSPB is that the organization serves as an independent, semi-judicial agency. When federal employees experience discrimination or other unlawful actions, they can file an appeal with the MSPB. For example, if a federal employee claims they were wrongfully terminated because of whistleblowing, they can take direct action with the board. Alexandria employment attorneys from The Spiggle Law Firm can help you answer any question you may have about the Merit Systems Protection Board and get you the compensation you deserve if you were wrongfully terminated.

Understanding the Merit Systems Protection Board Principles

The merit systems protection board plays a vital role in protecting the interests of federal employees and ensuring the integrity of the federal civil service system. They are responsible for enforcing the merit system principles (MSPs), which are the foundational principles of the federal civil service system. The merit system principles include:

  • Encouraging diversity in hiring practices
  • Nondiscrimination on protected classes
  • Equal pay for work of equal value
  • Protection from reprisals
  • Fair and open competition
  • Impartiality and nonpartisanship
  • Effective performance management.

While all federal employees are required to follow the MSPs, some individuals hold significant power and influence within the organization. Agency leaders, supervisors, HR staff, and others with a responsibility to oversee other employees are given specific duties to uphold the MSP and ensure the safety of the federal workforce.

What Are the Primary Functions of the MSPB?

When delving into the essential functions of the MSPB, the central theme includes providing federal employees with a safe workplace. The MSPB ensures that federal employees are treated with respect and integrity. However, three primary functions play a significant role in protecting employees:


With the authority to analyze and decide appeals of adverse actions taken against federal employees, MSPB oversees important decisions regarding federal employee issues — including removals, demotions, suspensions, and reductions in pay.


The MSPB has the power to supervise responsibilities to ensure individuals act appropriately and lawfully. Some of this oversight includes conducting special investigations of prohibited personnel practices (PPP), reporting on the state of the federal workforce, and providing guidance and training to federal agencies on PPP prevention.

Policy Development 

Ensuring policies develop in a respectable and inclusive way is another main function of the MSPB. The board has a duty to recommend and develop ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal civil service system. Examples of policy development include conducting research on workforce issues and developing policy recommendations based on that research.

When you thoroughly understand the merit systems protection board and its role in protecting federal employees, you will have the tools to recognize when someone is acting unlawfully. If you suffer from discrimination, harassment, or other unlawful behavior as a federal employee, speak with a professional employment lawyer.

Find an Experienced Virginia Employment Lawyer at The Spiggle Law Firm

With years of experience protecting clients across Virginia, The Spiggle Law Firm has built up a strong community of individuals ready and willing to guide you through the complex legal process. We are here to listen, understand your concerns, and offer legal services, such as interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence. Our main goal is to offer you the best possible outcome for your claim. Contact our team by calling (202) 980-3857 or completing our online contact form today.

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