United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
November 9, 1999
JIM REDMOND, PETITIONER,
MERIT SYSTEMS PROTECTION BOARD, RESPONDENT.
Before Mayer, Chief Judge, Archer, Senior Circuit Judge and Clevenger,
Jim Redmond seeks review of the June 29, 1998 decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board, Docket No. AT3443980667-I-1, dismissing his appeal for lack of jurisdiction. We vacate and remand.
In the present appeal, Redmond requests one of two alternative forms of relief: 1) "salary and grade to be reinstated as was agreed to", or 2) "retirement under job abolishment as requested when this first happened." Additionally, in his original appeal to the board, Redmond describes the "agency action appealed from" as denial of early retirement and transfer from one excess position to another "with a lower paygrade with a two year save in grade." Briefs of pro se litigants are not held to the stringent standards of briefs filed by attorneys. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9, 101 S. Ct. 173, 176 (1980); see also Hilario v. Secretary, Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 937 F.2d 586, 589 (Fed. Cir. 1991) (stating that pro se litigants "are not required to file artful, legally impeccable submissions in order to proceed on appeal").
The board correctly noted that its jurisdiction is not plenary because it is limited to those areas specifically granted by law, rule, or regulation. See 5 U.S.C. § 7701(a); Cowan v. United States, 710 F.2d 803, 805 (Fed. Cir. 1983). Its jurisdiction to review determinations regarding an individual's rights or interests under the Civil Service Retirement System attaches only after the Office of Personnel Management ("OPM") has issued a reconsideration or final decision. See 5 C.F.R. §§ 831.109, 831.110. Because Redmond has not appealed the agency's denial of early retirement to OPM, the board lacks jurisdiction over that claim.
The board has jurisdiction over appeals from certain agency actions including reduction in grade. See 5 C.F.R. § 1201.3(a)(1). The correct inquiry is not what the main thrust of Redmond's argument was but, rather, whether he sufficiently alleged a claim for his reduction in grade by the agency. If he made a non-frivolous claim challenging his reduction in grade, he is entitled to a hearing on jurisdiction. See Roche v. United States Postal Service, 828 F.2d 1555, 1558 (Fed. Cir. 1987). It is apparent from the papers submitted by Redmond that he seeks to challenge the reduction in grade as well as the denial of early retirement. We vacate the decision and remand this case to the board for adjudication of the reduction in grade challenge.
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