Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Kloeckner v. Solis. This case involved the procedures by which federal employees can challenge "mixed cases" under the Civil Service Reform Act. A mixed case is a discrimination action that is appealable to the MSPB. The Eighth Circuit had held that such cases are appealable only to the Federal Circuit (which had held the same in an earlier case), but the Supreme Court disagreed in an unanimous decision.
I won't get into the technical aspects of the decision, which interpreted various provisions of the CSRA. But the upshot is that when the MSPB rejects an employee's mixed case claim, then the next avenue for challenge is the relevant federal district court--not the Federal Circuit, which hears most other MSPB appeals. This is true whether the MSPB dismissed the appeal for substantive or for procedural reasons.
It's great that the Supreme Court clarified this issue. I hope that there are future cases along these lines; as a former clerk on the Federal Circuit, I can personally (and painfully) attest to the fact that the procedures involved with federal employee cases, especially when discrimination is alleged, are incredibly confusing.
Congratulations to Eric Schnapper (U. Washington), the long-time Supreme Court advocate who successfully argued the case for Kloeckner.