| Read Time: 7 minutes | Wrongful Termination

Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Federal Employee Attorney

Working for the U.S. government offers a number of benefits that make federal employment a great option. However, federal employees are subject to different rules than private citizens in some cases. As a federal employee, it is important to understand what your rights are and how you can use them to your advantage to protect your job and your wellbeing. Our Federal EEOC lawyers will explain. What Are My Rights as a Federal Employee? Subject to some limited exceptions, federal employees have the same rights in the workplace as any other employee. Broadly speaking, you are entitled to a safe workplace where you can report unsafe conditions or illegal conduct without retaliation. Your individual rights range from protection against discrimination to certain advanced procedures in the case of downsizing of your office. If your employer disciplines or fires you, you have the right to appeal. And depending on where you work and whether you are a bargaining unit employee, you may be able to take advantage of union representation. Federal Employee Civil Rights There are four main federal civil rights laws that cover federal employees: Together, these laws protect federal employees from discrimination and harassment based on a number of protected traits. As a federal employee, you have a right to a safe workplace free of discrimination or harassment based on your race, color, religion, sex, disability, or age. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects against both intentionally and unintentionally discriminatory practices. If you have been subject to any office policy or conduct causing even indirect discrimination, you may have a claim under the Civil Rights Act. The Equal Pay Act prohibits the government from engaging in discriminatory payment practices based on your sex. This Act applies to jobs that are “substantially equal,” where the employees perform work of similar skill and responsibility in the same working conditions. Even if two positions are not strictly identical, the Equal Pay Act will protect against pay discrimination between them. In addition, the Act covers all forms of pay, not just salary or hourly wages. Although people are hesitant to share details about their salary or wages, you may have a claim if you suspect that you are being paid less than your coworkers, including fewer bonuses, allowances, or accommodations, based on your sex. Protection Against Age and Disability Discrimination The Age Discrimination In Employment Act and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act protect you against discrimination based on your age or status as a person with a physical or mental impairment. The Rehabilitation Act in particular allows federal employees to receive certain rights found in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Section 501 requires that federal employees not only refrain from discriminating against such persons but that they take proactive steps to recruit them. Workplace Safety Rights for Federal Employees The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) oversees workplace safety. As a federal employee, you are entitled to a safe workplace free of known health and safety hazards. You also have the right to report workplace hazards without fear of firing, demotion, or discipline for doing so. Federal Employee Protection Against Prohibited Personnel Practices If you are a regular Title 5 federal employee, you may be able to appeal a disciplinary action or certain personnel decisions to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Personnel decisions are those made within an organization that affect employees’ work lives, such as demotions, transfers, suspensions, or discharge. The MSPB is responsible for hearing employee appeals of these actions and others to ensure that federal employees receive due process. If you are a non-probationary employee (i.e. you have been hired for a permanent position and have successfully completed any probationary period), you can file an appeal with the MSPB if you are suspended for more than 14 days, discharged from your position, or demoted. Various other personnel decisions, OPM retirement issues or retaliatory disciplinary actions, are also appealable. The Office of Special Counsel is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the 14 personnel practices prohibited by 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b), most notably whistleblower retaliation. In addition to discrimination, federal law prohibits: If you have experienced any of these adverse actions, a federal employee attorney can help. Whistleblower Protections Federal employees may be in a position to expose fraud or other wrongdoing that occurs within the government. Under the Whistleblower Protection Act And Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), federal employees have protection against retaliation for their disclosure of certain misconduct, including: Whistleblowers provide an important public service, and the breadth of protection for federal employee whistleblowers demonstrates that importance. In addition to the whistleblower act, many federal agencies are responsible for administering their own whistleblower protection laws. OSHA, for example, administers workplace-safety-related whistleblower protections under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Keep in mind, however, that these agencies may not offer the same confidentiality as broader federal whistleblower laws. What Happens If You Get Fired from a Federal Job? The full consequences of termination from a federal job depend on what kind of federal employee you were and the pay grade you had achieved at the time of discharge. If you believe you were fired from your federal job in circumstances that are illegal or that violate any of the prohibited personnel practices, you should contact a federal employee attorney as soon as possible. A federal employment attorney can review your termination and help you determine whether your termination was lawful. If it was not, your attorney can help you file an appeal. Because the MSPB operates on strict deadlines, hiring an attorney also ensures that all appropriate paperwork is filed on time. Appealing Termination from a Federal Job The appeals process for termination from a federal job is similar to the process in a civil lawsuit. After you file the appeal, there is a discovery period during which you will be able to obtain additional information to support your case through depositions and discovery requests. At the same time, an experienced attorney can...

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Wrongful Termination

FLRA Decision Reverses VA Removals Under 38 USC 714

In recent years, perhaps no law has had a greater effect on the Department of Veterans Affairs employees as has The Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, codified in part in 38 USC 714. The Act has provided the Agency a “fast track” to suspend, demote, or remove Title 5 VA employees. Under this authority, not only are deadlines for an employee’s MSPB appeal rights shortened from 30 calendar days to 10 business days, but the burden of proof on the Agency was lessened to a much lower standard, making it even easier for the VA to prove their case. However, on November 16, 2020, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) issued a major win for federal employees. This decision will likely require the VA to reinstate, with back pay, thousands of employees who were removed for performance deficiencies under the Act. In its decision, the FLRA upheld an arbiter’s ruling that the Act did not supersede the AFGE Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which requires the VA to institute a performance improvement plan (PIP) to allow an employee an opportunity to improve before having a removal imposed. In this case, the VA argued that the Act superseded the CBA, and therefore Title 5 employees could be removed for performance deficiencies without going through the PIP process. This argument initially appeared valid too, since an act of Congress would in fact trump an agreement between a federal agency and a union. Had the VA’s argument prevailed, it would have marked another blow to the rights of federal employees at the VA by completely abrogating the PIP process in these cases. In its response, and in the opinion of the FLRA, AFGE correctly argued that while the Act lays out new procedures for removal actions under the authority of §714, these procedures only take effect once a disciplinary action is proposed. The PIP process takes place prior to any discipline being proposed and therefore is a completely separate process not covered by the Act. As a result of this decision, it appears that the Department of Veterans Affairs will have to reinstate all employees who were removed under Section 714 for performance deficiencies and who were not placed on a PIP prior to having their removal proposed. This would amount to hundreds, if not thousands, of reinstatements with retroactive back pay.  Get Help from a Federal Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today The Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing is an experienced federal employment law firm that assists wrongfully terminated federal employees from across the country. Attorney Aaron D. Wersing understands the new, complex issues you face under §714 and vows to work tirelessly to protect your career. Combining extensive legal knowledge and experience with empathy and commitment allows us to help protect your legal rights and get the justice you deserve If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated under federal employment protections, whether it’s under 38 USC §714, Chapter 75, Chapter 43, or as a probationary employee, contact us or give us a call at (833) 833-3529 for help.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Wrongful Termination

Learn How Federal Laws Protect You from Wrongful Termination

Employers have an obligation to treat their employees fairly, in accordance with federal statutes. These federal laws provide a variety of protections that prevent your employer from wrongfully terminating you. Understanding these protections can help ensure that you receive fair treatment from your employer. If you have been wrongfully terminated, you might have a valid legal claim against your former employer. A federal wrongful termination lawyer from the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing can help you get the justice you deserve. Wrongful Termination & Employment Discrimination A variety of federal laws prohibit an employer from terminating you based on traits and characteristics that include: Race, Age, Sex, Skin color, Religion, National origin, and Disability. You cannot be terminated because you are pregnant or gave birth, or due to any medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. You cannot be fired based on any of your genetic traits or ancestry. Your employer cannot fire you based on your marital status, gender identity (including transgender status), or sexual orientation. Employers must also provide reasonable accommodations to their employees based on a disability as well as religious beliefs and practices. Further, federal law protects you from potential retaliation by an employer. For example, your employer cannot terminate you because you complained about being discriminated against, participated in or assisted with a discrimination investigation, or filed a legal claim alleging discriminatory treatment. You might have been subject to a different type of discriminatory termination than those listed here. Talk to an experienced employment attorney to determine whether you have been wrongfully fired by your former employer. Wrongful Termination & FMLA The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows you to take an extended (unpaid) leave from your job for specified family and medical reasons, such as if you suffer from an illness or if you need to take care of a sick family member. Both parents are allowed to take unpaid leave for the birth of their child. You may also take leave for specific reasons related to a family member’s military service. FMLA provides flexibility for how you can take your leave, including arranging for an intermittent or reduced work schedule. After you return from your leave, the employer must reinstate you in an equivalent position with equivalent compensation and benefits. FMLA is a complex area of the law. A wrongful termination lawyer can explain your rights and entitlements under FMLA and help you determine if you might have a viable case. Wrongful Termination & Workplace Safety Certain federal laws protect your health and safety in the workplace. Your employer must ensure that your workplace is free from any known safety or health hazards. Employers must provide applicable safety training in a language you can reasonably understand and ensure that any equipment or machinery you work on is safe to operate. Your employer must provide you with appropriate safety equipment and protect you from toxic substances while on the job. Your employer cannot legally terminate you for speaking out about potential safety issues, for filing a report about a workplace injury, or for filing a valid workers’ compensation claim. You are also legally entitled to review the results of workplace testing to identify potential hazards. This right to review workplace testing is now significantly more complex due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes to federal laws and to their interpretation are ongoing. If you were terminated due to a workplace safety issue, talk to an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights to pursue a claim. Other Potential Wrongful Termination Issues You could be wrongfully terminated for any number of reasons beyond those noted above. Your employer might not be able to legally fire you for actions involving a labor union, for example. You also cannot be terminated for refusing to take a lie detector test in most cases. You likely cannot be fired in most cases for refusing to break the law in the course of your job or for being a whistleblower. The best way to determine the viability of your case is to talk to an experienced employee rights or employment law attorney. How Can a Federal Wrongful Termination Attorney Help You? Consulting an experienced attorney can give you the knowledge and information you need to pursue justice. In many cases, employers wrongfully terminate employees because they simply don’t know the laws or how those laws apply to their business. In other cases, however, an employer might fire you despite knowing that it violates the law. Wrongfully terminated employees may be afraid of what could happen if they pursue a claim or think they can’t afford a lawyer to help them. In most cases, you can consult an attorney at no cost, as most offer complimentary case evaluations. How attorney’s fees work for you will depend on the attorney and the nature of your case. However, if you were wrongfully terminated, you could be entitled to recover your attorneys’ fees, as well as compensation for lost wages and benefits, the difference in the cost of your medical insurance, emotional distress, or other related damages. Get Help from a Federal Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today Attorney Aaron Wersing of the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing is an experienced employment law attorney who assists wrongfully terminated clients from across the country. At the firm, we understand the complex issues you face and vow to work tirelessly to protect your legal rights. Combining extensive legal knowledge and experience with empathy and commitment allows us to help protect your legal rights and get the justice you deserve. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated under federal employment protections, contact Aaron Wersing today or give us a call at (833) 833-3529 for help.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Workplace Discrimination

Federal Sector Failure to Promote and Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

When you ace an interview for a new position, especially if you are well-qualified, it can be confusing to find out that someone else got the promotion. Especially when you learn that the person who got the job was less qualified and had far less experience. Understandably, you want to know why the hiring manager chose that applicant and didn’t promote you instead.  If you can’t get a straight answer, the hiring manager may be hiding something. Was the other applicant a different gender? Employers cannot refuse to promote someone because of their gender. If you suspect gender discrimination in the workplace, it’s imperative to speak with an experienced federal employee lawyer today. What Qualifies As Gender Discrimination in the Workplace? Determining what qualifies as gender discrimination can be difficult, which is why it’s crucial to have an attorney on your side. Gender discrimination against women in the workforce is nothing new, unfortunately. Women employed by the federal government continue to be passed over for promotions in favor of less experienced and less qualified men. This practice continues even though Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits failure to promote due to an applicant’s gender. While gender discrimination is not easy to prove, victims do have legal options. There are legitimate reasons someone may not get promoted that don’t qualify as gender discrimination. Possible legitimate reasons for failure to promote include: A lack of required educational qualification; A lack of experience for the position; A failure to meet the minimum qualifications; An inability to commit to the position’s work schedule; Another applicant was more qualified; Poorer performance during an interview; An unfavorable performance review at their current position; and An inability to perform required job duties, even with reasonable allowances and accommodations for a disability. Even if the explanation you received about why you weren’t promoted includes one or more of these legitimate reasons, you may still have a valid gender discrimination case if the given reason was pretext for discriminatory practices. Examples of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace  All types of gender discrimination in the workplace are illegal. An employer cannot treat an employee differently because of their gender. If someone is passed over for a promotion or a job because of their gender, they have likely been the victim of gender discrimination. Other examples of gender discrimination in the workplace include: Unequal pay for men and women doing the same job; Different sets of interview questions depending on gender; A positional bias that sees women in stereotypical positions, i.e., secretary, receptionist, and administrative assistant; Sexual harassment; Different dress code depending on gender; Diminished responsibilities for one gender; Different conversation styles depending on gender; and Different termination protocols between genders. Uncovering gender bias is not always easy. It’s even more challenging to eradicate it from the workplace. However, once you start looking closely, you may spot some of these gender biases in your workplace. Proving a causal connection between the failure to promote an employee and gender discrimination can be complicated, but typically possible to accomplish. That is why you need to retain the right federal employee lawyer to represent you. To successfully prove gender discrimination in the workplace, you must show that your gender was a motivating factor for a hiring manager not having promoted you. Something can be a “motivating factor” even if your agency would have taken the same action without a discriminatory motive. One way to prove a causal connection is to identify patterns of discriminatory conduct. Are significantly more women or men passed over for managerial positions? Are there other signs of discriminatory practices? Listen to conversations between other workers or comments made by supervisors. You may hear something that points to different patterns of discrimination. Be sure to hold onto any company documents, emails, or text messages that point to possible bias. Evidence of bias will be important for building a persuasive discrimination case.  Consult a Federal Employee Lawyer Today Filing a claim for gender discrimination in the workplace is not easy. That is one reason why hiring an attorney is so essential. Often, if one type of unlawful discrimination occurs in the workplace, others may be present as well. When you retain the skilled federal employee lawyers at the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, we will look for other discrimination patterns in addition to the bias you experienced. Speaking out after experiencing gender discrimination firsthand can be scary. Understandably, you may worry whether anyone will believe you, or about what happens after reporting the incident. Retaliation and termination are two legitimate concerns many federal employees have after reporting any discrimination. If you are terminated or experience retaliation after reporting discrimination, that is also illegal. While exposing gender discrimination can be terrifying, it’s crucial to speak up and protect your rights. With laws in place to protect you from gender discrimination in the workplace, you do not have to allow any employer to discriminate against you, especially the federal government. If you believe you experienced gender discrimination or any other type of discrimination in the workplace, contact the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing or give us a call today at (833) 833-3529 to schedule an initial consultation. Let us help protect your rights and fight for the equal treatment you deserve.

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