Presidential candidate Donald Trump is well known for his “Your fired!” catchphrase from the reality TV show The Apprentice. He would live up to that slogan by making it easier to fire federal employees if he gets elected in November.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who heads Trump’s White House transition team, told the press that Trump believes the process for firing civil servants takes too long and involves too many hurdles. Trump’s administration cited concerns that Obama would convert political appointees to civil servants, granting them greater job security and equal pay rights.
Employment rights for civil servants: Rooted not just in the law, but also in the Constitution
Government employees have due process rights when it comes to losing their jobs. These rights – which are rooted in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – include a requirement for just cause and an opportunity to challenge the firing.
The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA) further outlines the procedures for firing, disciplining and demoting federal employees. Passed several years after the Watergate Scandal, this law established the Office of Personnel Management and the Merit Systems Protection Board. Both agencies play important roles in protecting the rights of federal employees.
Big changes for federal employees if Trump gains the White House
It’s unclear how, exactly, Trump would change existing federal employment procedures. However, Trump’s previously announced policies would impact government employees in key ways:
- He would gut several federal agencies. Earlier this year, Trump announced that he would make significant cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education, a move that would result in approximately 20,000 layoffs.
- He would require high-level employees to sign nondisclosure agreements in an effort to keep the administration’s inner workings behind closed doors and prevent leaks down the road.
- He would recruit businessmen and women in part-time government positions, in accordance with his belief that business experience is a relevant credential for federal employment.
Although the details of these proposals have yet to be outlined, one thing is clear: A Trump victory in the November election would have a major impact on federal employees at all levels.