For federal employees, it's almost impossible to get fired

It is very difficult for federal employees to get fired.
(Image credit: iStock)

The ultimate job security, it seems, comes from working for the U.S. government. As one Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found, "it can take six months to a year (and sometimes significantly longer) to dismiss an employee," with an average timeline of 243 days in 2013. And that's if a firing occurs at all: A federal worker's chance of being fired in a given year is just one in 500.

"It ends up being very, very difficult to fire a federal employee even when there is the best of cause," explains Joseph Morris, who served as general counsel for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in the 1980s. At one point, Morris recalls, he made a list of all the possible steps to fire a federal employee in his era and found it stretch some 30 feet. Today, he says, the list would likely be longer.

These lengthy firing processes can be at work even in cases of egregious misconduct. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expects to take at least 270 days to fire a nurse who operated on a veteran after chugging as many as five beers at a casino.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us