Probationary Employee Rights

Jennifer Duke
July 7, 2016
Probationary Employees do not receive all of the same protections under the law as those employees who have completed their probationary period. Typically, a federal employee must complete a one year probationary period during which the employing agency determines whether the employee is truly a good fit for the agency.

The agency will evaluate the employee's performance and conduct during the first year of employment. If an employee meets all the requirements for his or her position, the employee will successfully complete the probationary period, and become a non-probationary federal employee.

Many of the procedures and job protections that apply to federal employees do not apply until after the completion of the probationary period. However, that is not to say that no protections apply. Discrimination is prohibited regardless of whether an employee is probationary or not, and a probationary employee is fully entitled to protect his or her rights by engaging the agency's EEO office if the employee thinks he or she is being subjected to unlawful discrimination.

The most notable area in which probationary employees do not enjoy the same rights as other employees is job protection. A probationary employee may be terminated during his or her probationary period for any, non-discriminatory reason with minimal procedural requirements. While a non-probationary employee must be given notice that their removal has been proposed, and an opportunity to respond to the proposal, a probationary employee need only receive notice of the reason or reasons for termination and the effective date. Furthermore, apart from a few specific circumstances, probationary employees do not have the right to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board ("MSPB").

In limited cases, a probationary employee can appeal to the MSPB. This is permitted only in two situations. First, a probationary employee may appeal a termination to the MSPB if the employee alleges that he or she was discriminated against on the basis of marital status, or for partisan political reasons. A probationary employee may also appeal a termination to the MSPB if the termination is the result of events, activities, or conduct which occurred before the employee was appointed to his or her position. In this situation, the employee is entitled to notice of the proposed termination and a right to respond, as well as to appeal to the MSPB.

Determining your rights and the best way to protect them as a probationary employee can be difficult. If you are a probationary employee, and are concerned that you might be terminated, or that you are being discriminated against, Melville Johnson, P.C. may be able to help. Contact us today using the form on this page.

This blog and web site published by Melville Johnson, P.C. should not be used as a substitute for seeking competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. Readers of this information should not act upon any information contained on this blog or website without seeking professional counsel.
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