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Legislative Updates

“MERIT” Act reintroduced to remove workplace due process rights

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) reintroduced the Modern Employment Reform, Improvement, and Transformation (MERIT) Act today along with 16 House cosponsors (H.R. 3348) and 5 Senate cosponsors (S. 1898).

The bills, similar to those that failed to advance in the 115th Congress, would make it easier for agencies to fire federal employees. Agency heads, who are political appointees by the President, would be granted authority to fire career public servants based on the agency head’s determination of performance or misconduct.

While the bills claim to provide due process to affected employees—in the form of written notice of personnel action and the opportunity to respond—it severely diminishes the employee’s right to appeal, by forcing the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to make decisions within 30 days.

They have been referred to the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Reform respectively. With the change of House leadership, the legislation is unlikely to advance in that chamber and therefore unlikely to be signed into law, but it does signal the priorities of the lawmakers signed onto the bills.

As in the last Congress, NALC opposes the MERIT Act and will continue to monitor both bills and keep its members aware of any movement.

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