Prewitt v. Merit Systems Protection Bd.

Decision Date06 January 1998
Docket NumberNo. 97-3372,97-3372
PartiesGeorge Dunbar PREWITT, Jr., Petitioner, v. MERIT SYSTEMS PROTECTION BOARD, Respondent.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Federal Circuit

George D. Prewitt, Jr., of Greenville, MS, pro se.

Joyce G. Friedman, Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Merit Systems Protection Board, of Washington, DC, for respondent. Of counsel were Mary L. Jennings, General Counsel and Martha E. Schneider, Assistant General Counsel.

Before RICH, LOURIE, and BRYSON, Circuit Judges.

BRYSON, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner George Dunbar Prewitt, Jr., appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board from a decision of the Army Corps of Engineers not to hire him for a position he had sought. The Board dismissed his appeal for lack of jurisdiction. We conclude that the Board correctly determined that it had neither original nor appellate jurisdiction over Mr. Prewitt's claims, and we therefore affirm the Board's order of dismissal.


On October 3, 1996, the Corps of Engineers (the agency) rejected Mr. Prewitt's application for the position of Equal Opportunity Assistant. In response, Mr. Prewitt, an African-American veteran with a 30 percent or greater service-connected disability, filed a complaint with the agency. The complaint charged the agency with race, sex, and age discrimination, and with failing to follow veterans preference statutes and regulations. After the agency upheld its initial nonemployment decision, Mr. Prewitt filed a formal complaint with the agency and an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board.

In an order dated December 13, 1996, the administrative judge informed Mr. Prewitt that the Board might not have jurisdiction over his case and directed him to show that his appeal fell within the Board's jurisdiction. Mr. Prewitt's response cited numerous statutory provisions and regulations that he claimed gave the Board jurisdiction. The administrative judge was not persuaded, however, and he dismissed Mr. Prewitt's appeal on the ground that the Board does not have jurisdiction over an agency's non-selection of an individual for a federal position. The full Board subsequently denied Mr. Prewitt's petition for review of the administrative judge's decision.


The Board's jurisdiction is not plenary; rather, it is limited to actions designated as appealable to the Board "under any law, rule, or regulation." 5 U.S.C. § 7701(a). See Martinez v. Merit Sys. Protection Bd., 126 F.3d 1480, 1482 (Fed.Cir.1997). Mr. Prewitt has the burden of establishing the Board's jurisdiction. See 5 C.F.R. § 1201.56(a)(2).

An agency's failure to select an applicant for a vacant position is generally not appealable to the Board. See Ellison v. Merit Sys. Protection Bd., 7 F.3d 1031, 1034 (Fed.Cir.1993) (non-selection for promotion); Diamond v. United States Postal Serv., 51 M.S.P.R. 448, 450 (1991) (non-selection for appointment), aff'd, 972 F.2d 1353 (Fed.Cir.1992) (table). Thus, claims of unlawful conduct in the selection process ordinarily must be brought before other forums. See, e.g., 5 C.F.R. § 300.104(b). There are exceptions to that general rule, however. For example, the Whistleblower Protection Act gives the Board jurisdiction over an individual's claim that he was denied an appointment or a promotion because of a disclosure covered by 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8). See 5 U.S.C. § 1221(a); Ellison, 7 F.3d at 1034; Di Pompo v. Department of Veterans Affairs, 62 M.S.P.R. 44, 47 (1994); Slake v. Department of the Treasury, 53 M.S.P.R. 207, 210 (1992).

Mr. Prewitt contends that the general rule that the Board lacks jurisdiction over a claim of non-selection is inapplicable in his case. The particular claims that he has raised, he argues, fall within both the original and appellate jurisdiction of the Board. The pertinent statutes and regulations, however, do not support his contention.

The Board has original jurisdiction to review rules and regulations issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). See 5 U.S.C. § 1204(f)(1); Clark v. Office of Personnel Management, 95 F.3d 1139, 1141-42 (Fed.Cir.1996). In exercising that jurisdiction, the Board is authorized to declare OPM rules and regulations invalid if their implementation requires agencies to commit prohibited personnel practices, as defined in 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b). See 5 U.S.C. § 1204(f)(2); Hill v. Department of the Army, 59 M.S.P.R. 303, 304 (1993).

Mr. Prewitt alleges that in not selecting him for the vacant position, the agency engaged in the following prohibited personnel practices: race and sex discrimination, see 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(1)(A), age discrimination, see 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(1)(B), failure to comply with veterans preference requirements, see 10 U.S.C. § 1599c; 5 U.S.C. §§ 1302(b) and 3318(b), and failure to comply with other merit system principles, including veterans readjustment appointments, see 5 U.S.C. §§ 2302(b)(11) and 2301(b)(1); 38 U.S.C. § 4214.

Although Mr. Prewitt identifies the prohibited personnel practices that are at issue in this case, he does not specify which OPM regulations he is challenging, nor does he describe how any OPM regulations require agency employees to commit those prohibited personnel practices. 5 C.F.R. §§ 1203.1(a), 1203.11(b)(1). See Hill, 59 M.S.P.R. at 304; Welber v. Office of Personnel Management, 52 M.S.P.R. 23, 25 (1991); Scipio v. Department of the Navy, 24 M.S.P.R. 337, 339 (1984). Accordingly, he has failed to show that the Board has original jurisdiction in his case.

Mr. Prewitt's invocation of the Board's appellate jurisdiction fares no better. He points to 5 C.F.R. § 1201.3(a)(19), which grants the Board jurisdiction over employment practices administered by OPM "to examine and evaluate the qualifications of applicants for appointment in the competitive service." Section 1201.3(a)(19) in turn refers to 5 C.F.R. § 300.104, which limits the Board's jurisdiction to "employment practice[s] ... applied to [a candidate] by the Office of Personnel Management." 5 C.F.R. § 300.104(a). To satisfy his jurisdictional burden under that provision, Mr. Prewitt must show (1) that the actions in question constitute employment practices, and (2) that OPM is involved in the administration of those practices. Mr. Prewitt has not satisfied either component of section 300.104(a).

One of the "practices" that Mr. Prewitt challenges in this case is the alleged error by an agency employee in misidentifying Mr. Prewitt's race and the race of other applicants for the Equal Opportunity Assistant position. This court has held that "employment practice" is to be construed broadly and should not be restricted to the "examinations, measurement tools, and qualifications relating to merit" referred to in 5 C.F.R. § 300.101. Maule v. Merit Sys. Protection Bd., 812 F.2d 1396, 1399 (Fed.Cir.1987); see Dowd v. United States, 713 F.2d 720, 723-24 (Fed.Cir.1983). However, an individual agency action or decision that is not made pursuant to or as part of a rule or practice of some kind does not qualify as an "employment practice." Saya v. Department of the Air Force, 68 M.S.P.R. 493, 496 (1995). Compare Banks v. Department of Agriculture, 59 M.S.P.R. 157 (1993) (...

To continue reading

Request your trial
51 cases
  • Delmerico v. Dep't of the Navy
    • United States
    • Merit Systems Protection Board
    • May 30, 2023
    ... ... No. AT-3443-17-0281-I-1United States of America Merit Systems Protection BoardMay 30, 2023 ...          THIS ... IAF, Tab 4 at 7, 9-10; PFR File, ... Tab 1 at 7; see Prewitt v. Merit Systems Protection ... Board, 133 F.3d 885, 888 (Fed. Cir ... ...
  • Davis v. Dep't of Justice
    • United States
    • Merit Systems Protection Board
    • June 30, 2023
    ...proximately caused by nepotism, is not an appealable adverse action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. chapter 75. See 5 U.S.C. §§ 7512, 7513(d); Prewitt, 133 F.3d at 886. However, appellant could potentially pursue an IRA appeal based on alleged whistleblower reprisal by first exhausting his remedies wi......
  • Galloway v. Merit Sys. Prot. Bd., 2012-3203
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Federal Circuit
    • July 18, 2013 limited to actions that are designated as appealable to the Board under any law, rule, or regulation. See Prewitt v. Merit Sys. Prot. Bd., 133 F.3d 885, 886 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (quoting 5 U.S.C. § 7701(a)). For example, an agency's decision to not select a candidate for an open position is ......
  • Nichols v. Merit Sys. Prot. Bd., 2015-3064
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Federal Circuit
    • July 13, 2015
    ...process rather than an application of a specific rule, provision, or policy by the agency.'" Id. (quoting Prewitt v. Merit Sys. Prot. Bd., 133 F.3d 885, 887 (Fed. Cir. 1998)). The Board concluded "a challenge to an agency's individualized hiring decision falls outside of the Board's appella......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT