Selecting Appropriate Action - The Douglas Factors
Penalty Selection and Governing Criteria: The determination of which penalty to impose in a particular situation requires the application of responsible judgement. Disciplinary action taken is based on the conclusion that there is sufficient evidence available to support the reason(s) for action and that the disciplinary action is warranted and reasonable in terms of the circumstances which prompted it.
In determining the appropriate remedy, management must observe the principle of "like penalties for like offenses in like circumstances." This means that penalties will be applied as consistently as possible. Management must establish that the penalty selected does not clearly exceed the limits of reasonableness. A well known Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) case (Douglas v. Veterans Administration) addressed this issue in detail. A number of factors which management must weigh in deciding an appropriate course of action are discussed in this case. These factors are often referred to as the Douglas factors. Some factors may not be applicable to a given case; relevant factors must be considered. Bear in mind, however, that certain offenses (e. g., drug trafficking) warrant mandatory penalties.
Any decision notice concerning an adverse action which may be reviewed by the MSPB should cite the fact that the relevant Douglas factors were weighed in reaching the decision.
Factors in Penalty Selection – the Douglas Factors
For each factor above, you, as a supervisor/manager, must be able to explain in detail what, if any, consideration was given to each factor in selecting the proposed penalty.
REF: Douglas v. Veterans Administration, 5 MSPB 313 (1981)
Page last edited: January 25, 2012