NTEU Sues Trump Administration to Safeguard Nonpartisan Civil Service

Press Release October 27, 2020

Washington D.C. – The president’s latest executive order undermining the merit-based civil service is unlawful and an extreme effort to politicize the federal government, according to a lawsuit filed late Monday by the National Treasury Employees Union.  


The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and names as defendants President Trump and Michael Rigas, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management.  


Executive Order 13957, issued Oct. 21, would create a new category of federal employees in the excepted service by making political loyalty – not merit or skill – a prerequisite of the job. The president has ordered agency leaders to identify which employees should be forced to lose the civil service protections they are entitled to under the law, allowing them to be hired or fired at will for purely partisan reasons.  


“The president is attempting to run roughshod over the separation of powers and rewrite the law himself in a way that threatens a critical pillar of our democracy, and someone has to stand up to him. NTEU is proud to do so, with this lawsuit as well as supporting those in Congress who are pursuing legislative efforts to block the order,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon.  


NTEU represents many employees who perform policy-related work.  


“Stripping these employees of their civil service and due process protections is at loggerheads with NTEU’s mission ‘to ensure that every federal employee is treated with dignity and respect.’ A critical part of that mission is to protect these employees from arbitrary treatment,” the lawsuit states.  


The lawsuit asks the court to declare the order unlawful and prevent the administration from implementing it.  


“It is shocking that after four years, the Trump administration still doesn’t understand that the United States expressly rejected a spoils system 137 years ago because it was ripe for corruption,” Reardon said. “As with previous Trump executive orders and our legal challenges to them, we intend to remind this administration that the taxpayers are better served by federal employees who swear an oath to the Constitution, not a president.”  


NTEU represents about 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.