Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

And now—Principle No. 2!

OK, it’s that time again—time for the monthly Merit System Principle.

Principle No. 2—detailed on the Merit Systems Protection Board Web site—covers fair and equitable treatment, including matters of discrimination.

This principle draws on a whole bunch of laws—the Pendleton Act of 1883 (which scrapped the patronage system), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Privacy Act and even the Bill of Rights.

The main underlying idea is that personnel management decisions affecting individuals must be made on merit-based considerations—not on the basis of political affiliation, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age or handicap.

From what we have seen on this blog, we’re sure there is a certain amount of eye-rolling going on right now. If you’re cynical about how well Principle No. 2 is followed, you’ll be pleased to know that the folks at MSPB are not sitting back and doing nothing.

The board recently looked at workforce data—and federal employee perceptions of their treatment—and issued a report called Fair and Equitable Treatment: Progress Made and Challenges Remaining.

You’ll also find more details on how MSPB protects and enforces fair and equitable treatment by going to

Happy reading!

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Feb 08, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Thu, Sep 15, 2011

Northeast, And that's why the abuse will continue. Employees and the union no longer stand up against these abuses, and they are now out of control, at least at IRS. We once had a union president in our area who did stand up against it, so it didn't happen nearly as much. And employees would tell the truth in those days - they had principles.

Mon, Aug 15, 2011

MSPB allowed the IRS hiring manager to openly run around shouting that "no old f**ts" would be hired in the next hiring while he targeted 3 of 5 IRS probationers (all over 40) for abuse and 2 for firing at the very end, without cause, so that his daughter (a former library worker who bumped off CPA/MBA's with 20 years experience) could replace us. MSPB failed to correct IRS' misclassification of me as probationary to insure that my case would never be heard, and all due process rights would be denied. I was a union employee with full due process rights when all were denied - They allowed me to waste all my life savings and years of my life trying to get my case heard when they had no intention of allowing it, even while the MSPB judge said he'd "love to hear this case" - even he was amazed at their abuse of power and violation of all rules. He said he suspected he knew the real reason for the termination, but the reason didn't come out till after the hearing when the hiring manager's daughter was brought in to replace me. I had close to 20 years of service and never anything but excellent evaluations, yet MPSB allowed me to be fired without cause or warning to bring in the hiring manager and territory manager's relatives. Again, MSPB is a USELESS AND HARMFUL AGENCY AND NEEDS TO BE ELIMINATED - WHAT A WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY!!!!

Mon, Feb 14, 2011

I have worked in the Federal Government for 33 years and have experienced Sexual Harassment twice, discrimination based on Gender when applying for a male stereotyped position, and have recently been discriminated against for another protected item. I never filed any kind of EEO suits until this most recent incident, where management was using their discriminatory acts to end my career before it's time. I've had enough harassment during my career. This time I'm much older and I'm not taking it anymore.

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 Glen Dallas

There will always be discrimination regardless of the type.

Certainly a large part of the worst forms of discrimination are socially learned behaviors. However, based on some of the studies I've read (of animal behavior), we are wired for it. In part, we choose who we like to live near, associate with, and our mates based on preferences hard wired into our brains. Human studies have also found that we have a preference to associate with people "like" us even when we claim to be "ism" neutral. Its part of how early man formed tribes to insure survival. While its been largely muted in the workplace, you can see it in how we divide ourselves up into neighborhoods. Or if you don't believe in tribalism look at any school. Unfortunately, you can never get rid of that and you can't just, "check it at the door," and, societally, probably shouldn't. The best you can do is work to understand your own prejudices and gently help others understand theirs.

Harvard runs a website called "Project Implicit" in which the respondent is asked to categorize pictures or words flashed up on the screen with words denoting positive (good, loving, etc.) or negative (evil, bad, etc.) What they have found time and again is that 1) it is pretty accurate assessment tool for identifying sub-conscious prejudices and 2) that the people who are most violent and vocal about their personal prejudices are the ones who claim to be unprejudiced.

While written about the issue of race there is an excellent book that could equally apply to other forms of discrimination as well. Its called, "The Race Card" by Richard Ford Thompson (2008), a law professor at Stanford University.

You can legislate against specific definable prejudice. You'll never be able to legislate against human activity of which even the actor may be unaware.

Thu, Feb 10, 2011

Alive and well even at MSPB

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