The law protects all federal employees against discrimination and harassment in the workplace. And yet, many employees suffer all kinds of injustice after standing up for their rights. Countless other employees fear standing up for themselves because of the threat of retaliation. Unfortunately, retaliation in the federal workplace is common. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there were over 34,000 complaints of workplace retaliation in 2021. In fact, retaliation complaints made up 56% of all EEOC complaints filed that year. Given these facts, it’s important to learn how proving retaliation works. Read on to learn about the legal elements of retaliation. Contact a dedicated federal workplace retaliation attorney today if you have more questions about federal workplace retaliation or want legal counsel on your specific situation. How to Prove Retaliation Every successful retaliation claim requires meeting three elements. To prevail on your retaliation claim, you first need to prove that you either participated in protected activity or refused to obey an illegal or unethical act. After that, you need to show that your employer took some kind of adverse action against you. Finally, you must establish a nexus between your employer’s adverse action and your earlier protected activity. Let’s explore these elements in more detail. Participation in Protected Activity or Refusal to Carry Out an Illegal Act “Protected Activity” is a legal term of art that is commonly heard in discrimination cases. The most simple definition is any activity that receives federal or state legal protection. One great example is reporting discrimination. Federal civil rights laws prohibit discrimination based on certain characteristics. To encourage people to come forward and report discrimination, these civil rights laws grant protection to the act of reporting a violation. Other protected activities include things like: Protected activity also encompasses any resistance to an illegal order. For instance, it would be protected activity to refuse an order from your director to fire a subordinate because of his race. Finally, turning down sexual advances or taking action to protect others from sexual harassment generally constitutes protected activity. Adverse Action Against You by Your Employer Once you demonstrate that you participated in a protected activity, your next task is to prove you suffered an adverse action. Adverse actions include any negative actions against the employee by the employer. As such, they can take on a variety of forms. A few examples of adverse actions include: Although many kinds of adverse actions are obvious and blatant, others are more subtle. As federal anti-discrimination laws do not prohibit the employer from disciplining an employee for legitimate reasons, shady employers will often try to camouflage retaliation. For instance, your manager might say that he is laying you off because of “budget cuts” rather than your EEO activity. When adverse actions are conducted for seemingly legitimate reasons, it is best to hire qualified legal counsel to assist you. Connection Between the Adverse Actions and Your Protected Activity The final and most tricky retaliation element to prove is the connection or causality between your employer’s adverse action and your protected activity. Federal employment attorneys utilize three different characteristics to establish causality: Using one or more of these factors is vital to prove retaliation. Have More Questions About Retaliation in the Federal Workplace? Let Us Help Unlike other attorneys, the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC concentrates solely on federal employment issues. That means we have in-depth experience with virtually every issue that arises in the federal workforce. Besides our knowledge and experience, we also have a deep passion for serving the nation’s civil servants. We care about your rights and want you to have a long and fruitful federal career. Don’t go it alone against your retaliatory employer. Get the legal help you need so you can obtain the compensation you deserve. Set up a free initial consultation today. Call us at (833) 833-3529 or reach out to us online to start your journey toward justice.Read More
Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing
The Lawyers for Federal Employees
Federal employees have unique rights unlike other employees, and many of those rights are governed by specific laws that are unique to federal employees. At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, our team of experienced federal employment lawyers is dedicated to helping federal employees understand and protect their rights.
Just like other employees, federal employees can face an array of challenges. When these challenges require you to file a lawsuit, an administrative complaint, or a claim for benefits, it is important that you have a knowledgeable advocate on your side.
The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing has experience with all types of legal issues affecting federal employees, including disability claims, discrimination and harassment, whistleblower claims, retaliation, wrongful termination, and other adverse employment actions.
If you are a federal employee, the process for protecting your rights is different than for most employees in the private sector. It is important that you have an attorney with specific experience in federal employee law, not just general employment law.
Our practice is directly focused specifically on federal employee law.
Enforcing your rights as a federal employee frequently involves navigating various layers of bureaucracy.
Additionally, it can often be challenging to determine which agency is responsible for your specific type of claim and what process that agency requires you to comply with.
The Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing has experience working with numerous agencies across the federal government regarding federal employee issues. These issues can include complaints or claims involving:
- The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB),
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- The Office of Special Counsel (OSC)
- The Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS)
- The VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP)
- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
- The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)
When dealing with claims before these agencies, even small mistakes, such as missing filing deadlines, failing to gather adequate supporting documents, or filing a claim with the wrong agency can be costly.
Having an experienced federal employee lawyer on your side can make all the difference.
At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, our team of federal employment attorneys is passionate about helping federal employees with any legal issues they may face. If you need help pursuing benefits you are entitled to or protecting your rights against wrongful conduct, contact us today.
How We Can Serve You
Meet Aaron Wersing
Federal Employee Attorney
Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC. His practice focuses solely on assisting federal employees in a broad array of litigation and transactional matters. Mr. Wersing’s practice includes the evaluation and resolution of a diverse variety of federal employment matters.
I can’t say enough good things about Mr. Wersing. He was dedicated to my case and because of his dedication he won my case. I was lost without him. I went to many attorney’s and all of them told me they were unable to help me because the government was to hard to fight against, but not Mr. Wersing. He knew his stuff . If your looking for an attorney who treats you like a person and just not like another number, Mr. Wersing is that attorney. He knows his stuff and will fight for your rights. I can never thank him enough.- Sandy | EEOC
Aaron Wersing is at the very top of every attorney I have met or dealt with. He is a patient, pleasant and professional attorney who is mission oriented and dedicated to get the job done. He helped me through a very arduous disability process allowing me to keep my self dignity and respect. I cannot imagine working with any attorney other than Aaron Wersing when applying for Fers Disability or any other employment & labor, employee benefits or workers compensation issues.- Howard M. | FERS Disability
Aaron is not only confident in getting things done, he is very compassionate and caring. He is a true fighter for what he believes is right. My case was a bit complicated but Aaron never backed down. Applying for OPM can be daunting and personal. Aaron has the ability to keep you focused and on track which means he understands how emotional it can be for somebody that has to retire due to medical conditions. Because of Aaron my OPM was approved the first time and we didn't have to do a reconsideration. If you want a good attorney that will fight for you, Aaron is your man. I will be forever thankful.- Tammy | FERS Disability
Our Federal Employment Law Library
Empowering Federal Employees To Know and Exercise Their Rights
Thousands of federal employees file an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) each year. Over the past three years, only 3% of federal employees were successful. The success rate increases to 18% if you eliminate cases that settle before going to a hearing and those dismissed for procedural errors. Below are some tips on how to win an MSPB appeal, but first you should understand how the appeal process works. What Is an MSPB Appeal? If a federal employee is subject to a major adverse action by a federal agency, such as demotion, suspension of 15 days or more, or removal, he or she can generally appeal to the MSPB (note that certain agencies and/or positions are not eligible for MSPB appeals, such as a Title 38 employee at the VA). The MSPB is a quasi-judicial federal agency. Its duties include resolving certain employment-related disputes between federal agencies and their employees. What Is the MSPB Appeal Process? The MSPB appeal process is appropriate only after the agency notifies the employee of the proposed action, the employee responds verbally or in writing in an attempt to mitigate, if desired, and then the adverse action is subsequently sustained against the employee. Jurisdiction Before filing an appeal, the employee must determine whether the MSPB has jurisdiction over the action and the employee filing the appeal. The MSPB has jurisdiction to hear an appeal involving the following actions, but includes others as well: The MSPB will hear discrimination cases only if they are in connection with an action otherwise within MSPB’s jurisdiction. Some appeals will be heard only after you exhaust the procedures of another governing agency, such as veteran employment and whistleblower retaliation claims. Federal employees eligible to file an MSPB appeal include: An MSPB attorney can help determine your eligibility to file an appeal. Filing the Appeal Timing Typically, you must file your appeal within 30 calendar days of the date of the action or within 30 days after receiving the agency’s decision, whichever is later. There are exceptions, however, such as actions taken by the VA under 38 USC §714, which have a reduced deadline of 10 business days to file the appeal. If the appellant and agency mutually agree in writing, prior to the timely filing of an appeal, to use an alternative dispute resolution process, the time limit for filing the appeal is 60 days. Format The format and contents of your appeal must meet all the MSPB’s requirements. To ensure you do this, the MSPB provides an approved form if you wish to submit your claim in writing, or you can submit your appeal online through e-Appeal Online. Hearing The MSPB will assign an administrative law judge (ALJ) to your case, who will request additional information and responses from you and the agency. The ALJ will address settlement as well, which may involve the MSPB’s MAP program. If the case does not settle previously, an MSPB hearing will take place to allow the parties and witnesses to testify. The ALJ will issue an initial decision, which becomes final 35 days later unless a party petitions for review to the MSPB’s appellate division, known as the “Board”. Further appeal If you are dissatisfied with the ALJ’s initial decision, you may either file a petition for review to the Board or typically with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Your appeal to the federal courts must be done within 60 days of the Board’s decision. How to Win an MSPB Appeal? The MSPB says the most common reason as to why employees lose their cases is because they fail to bring forth a proper case by misinterpreting the law or not providing important evidence. Here are some tips on what to do (and what not to do) to increase your chances of winning an MSPB appeal. Request All Material Used By the Agency When an agency takes adverse action against you, you have the right to review the material it relied on to make the decision. You should exercise this right and obtain all the material to build a strong case against the agency. To create a well-crafted argument, you need to know what information was used against you. File on Time The timeliness of filing your appeal is of utmost importance. Do not miss the filing deadline Generally, you have 30 days from the date the action is taken against you to file your appeal. Although the MSPB may excuse late filing if you have a good reason and provide supporting documentation, this rarely happens. The MSPB processes thousands of cases each year, and it is incredibly strict about deadlines. Remember, your initial appeal form only needs to include the basics, such as the facts and legal issues of your case. The ALJ will request additional information after you file. The important thing is to get the appeal in on time. Do not file too early You can only file your appeal after the effective date of the action against you or after the agency issues a final decision regarding your performance or conduct. File a Complete and Proper Form File with the correct regional or field office. You must file your written appeal with the MSPB’s regional or field office where your duty station is located at the time the action took place. From time to time, the jurisdiction of the offices changes, so check the MSPB website for the most up-to-date information. Pay attention to every detail on the appeal form Simple mistakes on your appeal form like an incorrect address, failing to sign, or not providing the accurate date of the action can cause delay or denial of your appeal. An MSPB attorney can be quite helpful with the filing process, ensuring all information is included and accurate. Tell a Good Story In 2019, the MSPB decided on 5,120 cases. Your appeal must stand out. Paint a clear picture of the adverse action with details and a theme. This is where MSPB attorneys are incredibly beneficial as they are trained and skilled at telling your story in a compelling way. Make Discovery Requests ...Read More
Since its passage, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has served as the cornerstone of federal anti-discrimination law. It prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and color for most private-sector organizations, as well as state and local government entities. Fortunately, Title VII applies to all federal employees. However, Article VII’s applicability to federal employees may limit their ability to bring other kinds of lawsuits for certain claims. Read on to learn more about the current status of Title VII for federal employees. If you have more questions, get in touch with a knowledgeable federal employment lawyer right away. Understanding the Basics of Title VII Before going any further, it might be helpful to briefly review exactly what Title VII does. If Title VII applies to an organization, that organization cannot discriminate against any person with regard to any term, condition, or privilege of employment. Practically speaking, this means that any form of workplace discrimination is completely outlawed by Title VII. Terms and conditions of employment include things like: Obviously, enjoying discrimination protections in these matters is essential. Title VII and Federal Employees Once again, if you are a federal employee, you need not worry whether Title VII applies to you. It applies to all federal agencies, regardless of their size or main location. Title VII also applies to applicants for federal employment, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. That said, Title VII does not apply to Tribal nations, and it does not cover independent contractors. There is one major difference between federal employees and private-sector employees worth mentioning. While private-sector employees can file lawsuits for discrimination under Title VII, they may also file lawsuits relating to illegal discrimination under other laws. This may be preferable in certain situations because different laws may allow a person to recover more damages than Title VII. Federal employees, on the other hand, may resolve discrimination-related lawsuits only through Title VII claims. In the landmark 1976 case Brown v. GSA, the Supreme Court held that the only judicial remedy for federal employees is Title VII. For someone who has suffered from discrimination and is considering whether to file a lawsuit, the implications of this decision are enormous. If you fail to file your Title VII lawsuit within a certain amount of time after the discrimination, the court will probably throw your case out. This will leave you without any ability to get justice. Two Hypothetical Examples of Title VII Discrimination There is no limit to the forms that discrimination can take. It can be obvious or subtle, constant or periodic. Consider the two following hypothetical examples of discrimination in hiring and termination matters. Example #1 A man with a background in tax law applies for a federal tax attorney position. He seems very well qualified and makes it through the interview process. During the security check process, the hiring manager learns that the applicant has a restraining order against his former ex-wife for domestic abuse. Because the hiring manager believes that only women can be victims of domestic abuse and that men should be able to “man up” and protect themselves, she decides to reject the male applicant. Example #2 A woman from a conservative Christian religious background applies to work at the United States Postal Service (USPS) and gets the job. Shortly after she starts work, her supervisor informs her that she must wear pants as part of the USPS’s dress code policy. The employee believes that donning pants violates her religious beliefs and requests religious accommodation so that she can wear something more conservative. USPS refuses to make any accommodation and terminates the employee instead. Still Wondering About Title VII? Concerned About Discrimination? Let Us Help You Today Chances are, you’re wondering whether Title VII applies to federal employees because you are a federal employee suffering from discrimination. If that’s the case, we have good news for you. You have rights. You do not need to simply put up with discrimination. But if you are the target of discrimination, you need to seek legal counsel right away. There are many lawyers today that you could hire. But it is critical you hire the best attorney possible. Ideally, you want an attorney with extensive experience in federal employment matters, outstanding customer service, and a track record of success. At the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we pride ourselves on protecting and defending federal employees from all types of illegal discrimination. We have decades of experience helping federal employees stand up for their rights and careers. If you retain one of our attorneys, we promise to do everything we can to help you enjoy a fair and equitable work environment. We will also make every effort to see that you receive just compensation for your losses. Don’t wait for your window of opportunity to pass. Our initial consultations are free, so there’s no reason not to talk with us about your case today. Call us right away at 833-833-3529, or reach out to us online.Read More