Federal Reduction in Force (RIF)

Within the federal government, the term “reduction in force” is used to describe the elimination of one or more employment positions or a furlough of more than 30 calendar days or 22 discontinuous work days. Reductions in force (RIF) are subject to strict policies and procedures enforced by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and federal employees have important rights before, during, and after the RIF process.

If you are concerned about a possible reduction in force, or if you have recently lost your federal position due to an RIF, the employment attorneys at Melville Johnson, P.C. can help you understand your options. These options may include filing an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). If you have grounds to file an appeal and your appeal is successful, you may be able to recover severance pay, unused annual and sick leave, unemployment benefits, FEHBP and FEGLI insurance benefits, immediate annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the right to withdrawal from your Thrift Savings Plan, and other forms of compensation. You may also be entitled to have your legal fees paid by the government.

Our attorneys have over 30 years’ combined experience representing federal employees who are facing the consequences of reductions in force, as well as in MSPB appeals involving RIFs, removals, and other federal employment-related matters. We have handled thousands of cases and represented federal employees in all 50 states nationwide. If your federal job is at risk, it is important that you seek legal representation. At Melville Johnson, P.C., we can help protect your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation, benefits, and employment opportunities to which you are legally entitled.

“I really appreciate how much [your attorneys] cared about my case. From the very beginning of the process, they were friendly and very informative. We won the case, and they were even helpful afterward, [always addressing my] questions or concerns. Thank you . . . I will definitely pass your good work along to others in need.” – Jim R., Federal Employee

Federal Reductions in Force: Answers to FAQs

Q: When are federal agencies required to follow the OPM procedures for reductions in force?

There are five primary circumstances in which federal agencies must adhere to the OPM’s procedures for reductions in force. In these circumstances, failure to follow the necessary procedures can entitle affected employees to seek remedies through the MSPB. Federal agencies must adhere to the OPM’s procedures when releasing or downgrading an employee due to:

  • Reorganization
  • Lack of work
  • Shortage of funds
  • Insufficient personnel ceiling
  • Exercise of certain reemployment or restoration rights

Q: What factors can the federal government consider when selecting employees for a reduction in force?

When selecting employees and positions for reductions in force, federal agencies must base their decisions on a specific set of lawful factors. These include the availability of any alternative budget cuts and each affected employees’:

  • Geographic location
  • Tenure with the federal government
  • Veteran status
  • Performance ratings

As with other employment-related matters, federal agencies are prohibited from conducting RIFs on a discriminatory basis. If you believe that you have been terminated or are being targeted for a reduction in force based on your age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic, you may be entitled to additional remedies.

Q: Can the government assignment to a new position without following the OPM’s reduction-in-force procedures?

Yes. One option that federal agencies have available in order to avoid the mandatory RIF procedures is to assign employees to existing vacant positions at the same pay grade or pay. However, if you are transferred into a position that does not match the qualifications for which you were hired (or if your compensation is reduced), this too can support an MSPB appeal.

Decades of Experience and Thousands of Cases Handled

From the OPM’s mandatory RIF procedures to the timing and filing requirements for MSPB appeals, federal reduction-in-force cases often involve a wide range of complex legal issues. To protect your rights as a federal employee, you need an experienced legal team on your side. At Melville Johnson, P.C., we offer:

  • Decades of Experience – Our attorneys, led by firm founder George Melville Johnson, have decades of experience in MSPB appeals and other federal employment matters.
  • Thousands of Cases Handled – We have successfully resolved thousands of cases at the agency level, and have taken federal employees’ cases all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Exclusive Focus – Our firm is dedicated exclusively to representing federal employees.
  • Client-First Representation – At Melville Johnson, P.C., your case is about you. We will not be satisfied until we have achieved the outcome you deserve.

To learn more about your rights, please feel free to request a confidential consultation. Call (888) 846-7844 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced federal employment lawyers about your case today.

Successfully litigated against all federal agencies for 24 years, has brought cases before most circuit courts of appeals, as well as the United States Supreme Court on behalf of federal employees he has represented.