DC Circuit Rules Senior Executive Entitled to Due Process Before Removal

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that Maria Esparraguera, a Senior Executive Service employee, was denied due process before being removed from her Army position. The court found that Esparraguera had a protected property interest in her SES status and was entitled to notice and a hearing before removal.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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DC Circuit Rules Senior Executive Entitled to Due Process Before Removal

DC Circuit Rules Senior Executive Entitled to Due Process Before Removal

In a significant decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that Maria Esparraguera, a career appointee in the Senior Executive Service (SES), was denied, due, process, says before being removed from her position at the US Department of the Army.

Why this matters: This ruling sets a crucial precedent for the due process rights of Senior Executive Service employees, ensuring they have a protected property interest in their positions. It could also impact how federal agencies handle personnel actions involving senior executives, potentially leading to changes in their internal policies and procedures.

Esparraguera joined the SES in 2010 and served in her role until she was demoted, prompting her to challenge the decision in court. The district court initially dismissed her suit, stating that she failed to show that the removal implicated a property interest protected by the Due Process Clause.

However, the DC Circuit Court reversed the lower court's ruling on appeal. In an opinion written by Judge Bradley N. Garcia, the appellate court found that Esparraguera had a protected property interest in her SES status. The court cited statutory and regulatory provisions, including the Civil Service Reform Act and Army regulations, that gave her a property interest in her position.

The DC Circuit concluded that the government was required to provide Esparraguera with "some form of meaningful notice and an opportunity to be heard" before removing her from the SES. The case has now been remanded back to the district court for further proceedings consistent with the appellate court's decision.

This ruling sets an important precedent for the due process rights of Senior Executive Service employees. It affirms that SES career appointees have a protected property interest in their positions and are entitled to notice and a hearing before being removed. The decision could impact how federal agencies handle personnel actions involving senior executives going forward.