WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court ruling that has taken key civil service protection away from government employees involved in national security work will have far-reaching implications, advocates for federal workers say.
Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, a whistle-blower advocacy group, said Tuesday that the appeals court has given agencies "a blank check to cancel all government accountability in civil service law."
In a 2-1 decision Friday involving two Defense Department employees, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the Merit Systems Protection Board is prohibited from reviewing dismissals and demotions of government employees who hold "noncritical sensitive" positions, regardless of whether those jobs require access to classified information.
The dissenting judge in the case said the decision "effectively nullifies" the 1978 civil service law. Advocates for federal workers point out that federal employees in "noncritical sensitive" jobs work at many federal agencies, making the impact of the ruling government-wide.