One tool used by federal agencies in certain situations where an employee has been issued a proposed removal is a “Last Chance Agreement.” When a tenured federal employee has been issued a proposed removal from their federal job based on allegations of misconduct, they typically have the right to reply to the allegations against them, and the Agency must then make a determination of whether to uphold the charges and the removal penalty against the employee, ultimately effecting their removal; or, whether to take some other action, such as dismissing the proposed removal altogether or mitigating the proposed removal to some lesser penalty.
Even if the Agency’s designated deciding official for a proposed removal action ultimately decides there is sufficient evidence to uphold the charges and that the appropriate penalty is removal, it does not necessarily mean the employee’s federal employment will come to an end, at least not immediately. In some instances, the deciding official may offer the employee a “Last Chance Agreement,” which is essentially an offer of one “last chance” for the employee to continue their federal employment by performing their job duties without any further instances of misconduct.
Last Chance Agreements typically take the form of a written agreement, signed by the deciding official and the employee agreeing to the “last chance.” Employees who are offered these types of agreements should read the agreement very carefully before signing. It is important to know what you are agreeing to by reading the agreement!
The Last Chance Agreement should include a length of time for it to be in effect. It will also likely require the employee agreeing to it to waive their rights to appeal or grieve their removal, if they do get accused of misconduct and are removed for an accusation of misconduct during the effective period of the Last Chance Agreement.
In a nutshell, a Last Chance Agreement can be a way for a federal employee facing removal to save their job, but it comes at a cost of waiving certain rights during the period covered by the Last Chance Agreement. Employees therefore face a difficult and important decision when deciding whether to accept a Last Chance Agreement. If possible, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney before signing a Last Chance Agreement.
If you have concerns related to your federal employment and would like to discuss your situation with an attorney, please call the law firm of Bonney, Allenberg, O’Reilly, & Eddy, P.C. at 757-460-3477 to set up an initial consultation with one of our attorneys.