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Trump administration moves to make it easier to discipline federal workers

October 20, 2020

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The Trump administration has told federal agencies to make the fullest use of their discretion allowed by law to order disciplinary actions against their employees for reasons such as poor performance or misconduct.

Final rules published Friday and effective Nov. 15 either strongly discourage or ban practices that many agencies have adopted, repeatedly stressing management’s “sole and exclusive” authority to choose a penalty.

In cases of alleged misconduct, for example, the rules say that agencies need not follow the common practice of “progressive discipline”— increasing penalties for repeat or more serious violations — but instead must “adhere to the standard of proposing and imposing a penalty that is within the bounds of tolerable reasonableness.”

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