| Read Time: 3 minutes | Workplace Discrimination

Origin Discrimination in the Federal Workplace Overview

Most people understand what racial discrimination, sex discrimination, and disability discrimination all look like. Discrimination based on national origin is a little more difficult to define, and it often overlaps with racial discrimination. Yet even if it isn’t well known, many federal employees experience national origin discrimination every day they go into work. Just as with any other problem, the first step to solving an issue is recognizing and defining it. As such, it’s critical that federal employees understand what national origin discrimination looks like.  If you think that you or a loved one are experiencing this kind of discrimination, know that the law is on your side. Furthermore, you are entitled to compensation for any such discrimination you experience. To learn more, contact a knowledgeable employment attorney right away. What Is National Origin Discrimination? The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Civil Rights Center provides an excellent definition of discrimination based on country of origin. Specifically, national origin discrimination is any employment discrimination against an employee because of that person’s: Country of origin; Native language; Ancestry; Accent (although English fluency can be required); Ethnic dress or habits; or Actual (or perceived) place of birth. National origin discrimination can also occur if someone is targeted for “looking” or “sounding” like a certain group of foreigners, even if they do not actually belong to that group. Thanks to Title VII, employees cannot fire (or fail to hire) an employee because of their national origin. In fact, employers cannot let an employee’s country of origin affect any decisions related to any term or condition of employment. Terms and conditions of employment include things like an employee’s pay, job assignments, fringe benefits, training, and schedule. If you believe any of these terms and conditions have been impacted because of national origin discrimination, then you have protection under the law. National Origin Harassment  Harassment based on national origin is also illegal. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines “harassment” as unwelcome conduct that is related to a protected characteristic like national origin. Harassment based on national origin can include behaviors like: Demeaning comments about a person’s country of origin; Offensive jokes about a person’s native culture or language; Cultural, ethnic, or national slurs; and National or ethnic stereotypes. However, one offensive joke or comment generally isn’t enough to rise to the level of illegal harassment. Instead, the harassment has to either become a condition of the employee’s job or become severe enough to create an objectively intimidating, hostile, or abusive environment. What Should I Do If I Am Experiencing National Origin Discrimination? In almost all circumstances, you can help yourself by taking several key actions. First, document all incidents of national origin harassment or discrimination. Include details like the time, place, date, and the name of the offender. Second, try to resolve the issue with the offender unless you feel that it is dangerous to do so. In some cases, the offender simply doesn’t understand how they are coming off to others. Other times, they are simply acting ignorantly. Finally, report the behavior to a supervisor. If your supervisor is the cause of the offensive and discriminatory behavior, go to their supervisor.  Looking to Defend Your Rights? Let Us Help In a perfect world, national origin discrimination would be unheard of. Unfortunately, we live in a flawed world, which means that discrimination is an all-too-familiar occurrence for many federal employees. However, if you are experiencing discrimination based on your national origin, you don’t have to put up with it.  Our attorneys at the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, are dedicated to holding federal employers accountable. If you’ve been the victim of discrimination, we want to help you seek justice and get your life back together. From the moment you step into our office, we’ll fight to earn you the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or give us a call at (866) 891-0578.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Employment Law

What Federal Employees Should Know About Working While Pregnant

Federal employees who are pregnant or may become pregnant have special rights under the law. For one, they have protections against pregnancy-based discrimination and gender-based discrimination. In addition, they have the legal right to receive certain work adjustments while they are pregnant.  If you or a loved one are facing pregnancy-related discrimination or are not receiving accommodations from a federal employer, you should contact a qualified workplace discrimination attorney at the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC immediately.  Working While Pregnant: Relevant Federal Laws  In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). This act expanded the prohibition against sex discrimination to include discrimination relating to pregnancy, childbirth, and all related conditions. In other words, your employer cannot discriminate against any employees in any way because they are pregnant or were pregnant. This prohibition applies to all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, and job assignments. In addition, employers cannot discriminate against employees because they intend to become pregnant or have a medical condition related to pregnancy. The PDA also prevents employers from harassing those who are working while pregnant. Harassment includes a variety of behaviors, including: Finally, the PDA prohibits employers from excluding pregnant women from certain work conditions for their “protection.”  Due to these expansive protections against pregnancy-related discrimination, any employee who believes they are experiencing harassment because they are working while pregnant should contact an attorney.  Accommodations for Working While Pregnant Other laws provide additional protections for pregnant employees. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act entitles employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave for the birth of a child. Furthermore, employees who are working full-time while pregnant—or even just part-time—may be able to get accommodations to help them perform their job. According to the EEOC, possible accommodations for employees who are working while pregnant can include things like: A pregnant employee can also receive accommodation for conditions that are caused or aggravated by their pregnancy. Potential conditions include: Ideally, the pregnant employee will be able to perform the regular duties of her job with accommodations. In some situations, however, the employee may not be able to perform certain functions of their job while pregnant. In these cases, the PDA allows employers to temporarily alter the pregnant employee’s job duties. Alternatively, the employer can transfer the pregnant employee to a different position until she delivers the child. Employers should engage in an interactive discussion with pregnant employees to determine possible accommodations. Do You Want to Learn More About How the Law Protects Those Who Are Working While Pregnant? Creating a family is a special and exciting time of life for most people. Although it also comes with many challenges and trials, discrimination and harassment should never enter the picture.  When discrimination and harassment occurs, it can have a devastatingly negative impact on the mother’s mental and physical health. That’s why it is so important for you to get legal help immediately if you think you or someone you love are suffering from workplace pregnancy discrimination. Contact a Federal Workplace Discrimination Lawyer Today Here at the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC., we are fully committed to protecting our clients from any form of workplace discrimination. We will fight to ensure that you have a safe place to work, free from discrimination. We’ll also fight to get you any compensation you deserve for any harm you have endured so far. Even if you aren’t sure whether you need an attorney or are facing discrimination, contact us today. Don’t wait. Give us a call today at (866) 612-5956.  Let us help you defend your rights!

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Workplace Harassment

What Is Cyberbullying Under Federal Law?

Merriam-Webster defines cyberbullying as “the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person” that is “ often done anonymously.”  Cyberbullying most commonly occurs on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. That said, it can also happen over text, by email, and in online forums and chat rooms. Furthermore, cyberbullying can happen at any time. In fact, it can even happen at work.  If you’ve been the target of cyberbullying at work, it is critical that you get legal help.  Examples of Common Workplace Cyberbullying Situations Cyberbullying can take many different forms. Here are a few: In each one of these instances, the victim can feel powerless. And it’s not surprising why. Cyberbullying in the workplace is both a serious and novel phenomenon. Unlike traditional bullying, which can take place only in limited situations and times, cyberbullying can occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This makes it impossible for the victim to escape the torment.  In addition, cyberbullying is generally more public, since threatening or targeting posts can be posted and shared across the internet instantaneously. Even one thoughtless tweet or message can lead to devastating personal and public consequences. Paradoxically, however, cyberbullying can be completely anonymous and hard to track down. Yet the effects of cyberbullying can last for years. Cyberbullying in the Workplace Statistics Because cyberbullying in the workplace can be so difficult to monitor, it’s distressingly common. A 2016 study by the University of Sheffield and Nottingham University revealed that approximately 80% of the participants involved had experienced cyberbullying in the workplace in the six months preceding the study.  The effects of cyberbullying in the workplace are serious. Cyberbullying can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. It reduces workplace productivity, and it can also negatively impact workplace culture and increase burnout and turnover.  Workplace Cyberbullying: Legality Although there is no federal law that prohibits cyberbullying specifically, cyberbullying often overlaps with illegal conduct. For example, cyberbullying can constitute illegal discrimination or harassment. Cyberbullying can also result in federal stalking charges or defamation charges. Approximately half of the 50 states have adopted some kind of anti-cyberbullying law. If you’re suffering from cyberbullying, it’s important for you to take the following steps: In addition, you should also consider contacting an attorney.  We Can Help You Defend Yourself from Workplace Cyberbullies Here at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we are passionate about protecting federal employees. Our practice focuses specifically on federal employment law; we’re familiar with all kinds of federal employment claims, including cyberbullying. If you’re experiencing cyberbullying in the workplace, we can help you understand your legal options and what you can do to protect yourself.  We know that hiring an attorney can be a significant financial burden. However, we don’t want money to keep you from contacting us. Don’t let the trauma of cyberbullying continue. Reach out to us today.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal EEOC

Understanding EEOC Class Action Complaints

An EEOC class action complaint is a special kind of complaint brought collectively by a group of people against one entity. When most people think of class action complaint, they think of lawsuits against large pharmaceutical corporations, petroleum companies, tobacco producers, vehicle manufacturers, and financial companies. However, federal employees can bring a class action lawsuit against the federal government as well. There are many reasons that injured federal employees might want to start a federal class action complaint, but the most common relates to employment discrimination. Take a moment to learn more about the fundamentals of federal class action lawsuits. Afterward, consider consulting an EEOC class action attorney.  The Basics of EEOC Class Action Lawsuits In traditional lawsuits, each party has to represent itself. This means that each plaintiff has to be present in court, hire an attorney, and participate in all aspects of litigation. Few federal employees have the time or money to go through all of this on their own. With class actions, multiple plaintiffs can bring a lawsuit against one defendant as a group. The term for the group of people initiating the class action is, as you might imagine, a class. There are multiple advantages for plaintiffs who decide to sue the federal government as a class. For one, the court can resolve all of the plaintiffs’ claims against the federal government at one time, saving them time. Second, the plaintiffs can share the costs of litigation rather than having to shoulder all of the costs on their own. Third, only a few class members need to actively participate in the federal class action lawsuit. The others simply wait for the lawsuit to resolve. If the suit is successful, all plaintiffs receive a share of the final award. Requirements for Initiating EEOC Class Action Lawsuits Although there are advantages to bringing an EEO complaint as a class action lawsuit, but there are unique requirements as well. To become a class agent, the employee must consult with an EEO counselor within 45 days of the alleged discriminatory incident and request a class certification. A complainant may move for class certification at any reasonable point in the process where it becomes apparent that there are class implications to the claim raised in an individual complaint. If a complainant moves for class certification after completing counseling, no further counseling is required and an EEOC AJ makes a determination on the class certification. Then a formal class complaint must be signed by the class agent and filed within the regular 15-day timeframe, and must state the policy or practice adversely affecting the class as well as the specific action or matter affecting the class agent.   In order to be certified as a class complaint, the complaint must meet the requirements of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation. These requirements can be difficult to establish, and there are often other requirements that a class must demonstrate. Truth be told, class action lawsuits are quite difficult to navigate. Therefore, your best choice is to consider hiring a federal class action lawsuit attorney to represent you effectively. Let Us Represent You in a Federal Class Action Lawsuit If you are considering filing an EEOC class action complaint against your federal agency, then it is essential you find the right attorney. Many attorneys do not have the specialized experience needed to represent you in a class action lawsuit. Others may not have the best client reviews. Here at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, PLLC, we genuinely care about helping our clients defend their rights. We are also passionate that they obtain the compensation that they rightfully deserve. On top of that, we have many years of experience assisting federal employees with all kinds of employment issues.  Together, we can work to ensure that your federal class action lawsuit has the best chance of success. Don’t wait. Schedule your consultation with us right away. 

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Workplace Discrimination

What Does Discrimination in a Federal Workplace Look Like?

No federal employee should have to deal with discrimination in the workplace. When workplace discrimination occurs at the hands of a supervisor, colleague, or contractor, federal employees can exercise their rights under the law and sue their employer. Yet many employees wonder, What does discrimination in the federal workplace look like?  Federal law recognizes two major kinds of discrimination claims: disparate treatment and harassment. In addition, there are a number of personal traits or characteristics that it’s illegal to discriminate against. There are many examples of federal workplace discrimination. Sometimes federal employees experience shockingly overt and blatant discrimination. Other times, the discriminatory treatment is subtle.  In this article, we’ll review the major kinds of discrimination claims and protected traits. However, if you think you are experiencing illegal harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you should contact a knowledgeable federal employment attorney right away.  Workplace Discrimination Examples Discrimination commonly takes two forms: disparate treatment and harassment. Disparate treatment is when an employee is treated worse than other employees because of a protected characteristic, such as their age, sex, race, or religion. Examples of this kind of workplace discrimination can include any aspect of an employee’s federal employment: The other kind of common workplace discrimination is harassment. Harassment is offensive or unwelcome conduct that you have to endure when working or that is so severe or widespread that it creates a hostile work environment. Examples of this kind of discrimination in the workplace include: These are just a few examples. The truth is that discrimination can take many forms. Keep in mind, however, that petty problems or one mildly offensive joke may not rise to the level of harassment.  Characteristics That Are Protected From Illegal Discrimination Several characteristics or “bases” are protected under federal law. To constitute illegal discrimination, an employee must experience disparate treatment or harassment because of one of these characteristics. The characteristics include: The law also prohibits your employer from retaliating against you for filing complaints or speaking up against discrimination. Discrimination that isn’t based on one of these protected traits might be annoying or improper, but it’s probably not illegal. For example, it isn’t illegal for your co-worker to dislike you because you support a different sports team or drink coffee instead of tea.  Want to Learn More About Discrimination in the Federal Workplace? We know how damaging and upsetting it is to be the target of discrimination. We also know how isolated employees can feel when they’re experiencing discrimination. If you’re experiencing workplace discrimination, remember that you have rights.  Here at the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we specialize in defending federal employees from all forms of discrimination. Our firm has many years of experience protecting employees, putting discriminatory federal employers in check, and ensuring our clients receive the compensation they deserve. Together, we can work to ensure that you receive a fair and nondiscriminatory work environment. We can also aggressively fight to obtain just compensation for your losses.  Even if you aren’t sure whether you need an attorney or are facing discrimination, contact us today. Don’t wait. Give us a call today at (833) 833-3529.  

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| Read Time: 6 minutes | Federal EEOC

An EEOC Lawyer Explains the Process of Filing a Federal-Sector EEO Complaint of Discrimination

Discrimination in the federal workplace is an unfortunate reality of employment. Yet discrimination based on personal characteristics like sex, gender, race, color, age, and religion is against the law. Illegal discrimination encompasses actions that affect all aspects of federal employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, compensation, benefits, workplace treatment, and discipline.  If you’ve been the victim of unlawful discrimination as the result of management’s actions or inactions, you have the right to file a complaint with your agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office.  Read on to learn about the process of filing a charge of discrimination from an EEOC attorney who frequently takes on discrimination cases.    Initial Research  A good first step as a federal employee filing an EEO complaint of discrimination is to search for “federal employee EEO attorney” or similar online. Select a labor lawyer who is familiar with federal-sector EEO discrimination law and knows how to practice in front of the EEOC. Most employment attorneys do not handle federal-sector EEO complaints. It often makes sense to look for attorneys in your area. However, modern technology and federal employment make it easy to choose attorneys who are based in other states. In fact, there are so few attorneys focusing in this small niche that odds are you would not find one locally. Meeting with an EEOC Attorney Next comes the initial consultation. During this meeting, the EEO attorney will ask questions about your case. The EEO lawyer will also discuss their fees and what you might stand to gain if you are successful in a lawsuit. Settlement is a big topic of conversation as well, to determine what your ideal remedies may be.  The Financial Picture The initial consultation should include a discussion of your potential damages. The EEOC awards several forms of damages to successful plaintiffs. One type is called compensatory damages. An EEOC administrative judge awards compensatory damages in an attempt to make a plaintiff who has faced discrimination whole. For example, the EEOC recently awarded $165,000 in compensatory damages to a United States Postal Service (USPS) employee who dealt with illegal discrimination. The USPS was also recently involved in an EEOC-approved settlement with another one of their employees.  In especially egregious cases of discrimination, the EEOC may award even higher damages. As you can imagine, these damages serve to dissuade an agency from continuing their discriminatory behavior, and may even lead to the removal or disciplining of responsible management officials (RMOs).   What Happens After You File a Charge of Discrimination  After you have retained an attorney and contacted your agency’s EEO office, the EEO office will initiate the informal EEO complaint stage to try to resolve the case at the lowest level. If unsuccessful, you can then go on to file a formal complaint with your agency. This formal complaint includes an investigation into the claims in the complaint, and involves the giving of sworn testimony to an investigator. At the end of this formal stage, you will get a Report of Investigation (ROI) and a notice of a right to request an EEOC hearing or Final Agency Decision (FAD). Once you file for a hearing, the case will move out of your agency and into the jurisdiction of the EEOC and an administrative judge (AJ). The AJ will, among other things, set a date for a hearing. Sometimes, your attorney can draft a special pleading which may result in winning your case without even going to a hearing. At other times, your attorney will negotiate a settlement with your employer to resolve the case.  If neither of these outcomes occurs, your case will go to a hearing. There, an EEOC administrative judge will hear evidence from you and your employer to decide whether you suffered discrimination. If you are successful at the hearing, the EEOC judge may choose to award you compensatory damages and other relief. Even if you are not successful at your hearing, however, you can petition the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) with a request for appeal. This request for appeal essentially asks a panel of judges to give your case a second review and overturn a negative decision. It is generally filed if you suspect that the judge improperly evaluated the facts of the case or the law. If the OFO appeal is unsuccessful, you may be able to appeal your case further.  Do You Need a Lawyer Who Is Familiar with the EEOC and Discrimination Cases? Now that you know more about the process of filing a charge of discrimination, you can begin your search for a qualified federal-sector EEOC attorney. Keep in mind that not all attorneys are the same. Some are experienced and others are fresh out of law school. Even many experienced attorneys may not understand or be very familiar with the EEOC and federal employment discrimination. Consequently, you need to pick a law firm which has practiced many times in front of the EEOC.  At the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing,  PLLC., we focus exclusively on representing federal employees and helping them stand up for their rights. We have represented and won countless cases of discrimination for our clients over the years so contact us. You have nothing to lose by reaching out and letting us review your case. Let us fight for you today! FAQs How Do You File an EEOC Complaint? If you are a federal employee, ex-federal employee, or an applicant for federal employment, you can file a federal sector complaint with the EEOC. The first step in this process is to contact an EEO counselor. The counselor will then set up an intake interview where you will discuss your claim with them in more detail.  At the very least, you need to have the following information for your claim: It is critical to remember you only have 45 days after the date of discrimination to contact an EEO counselor. If you wait past that time, your complaint will probably be dismissed for being untimely, unless your claim is a continuing...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Employment Law

A Federal Employee Lawyer Explains What a Workers’ Comp Causation Letter Is

Workers’ compensation (or “workman’s comp”) is a very familiar term for individuals in the workforce, but many only understand that term in regard to state rules. If you’re looking for help with a claim, many workers’ comp attorneys only handle work injury claims under state law. But If you’re a federal civilian employee who suffers injury at work, you must make your claim for benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA).  Making a claim under FECA can be complicated, frustrating, and protracted. Enlisting the help of an experienced federal workers’ compensation attorney can reduce your frustration and help you win sorely needed benefits from FECA.  A large factor in winning many FECA claims is a workers’ compensation causation letter. We can help you understand what this is. But first, some background on how FECA claims work.  The Basics of a FECA Claim Federal civilian employees who suffer a traumatic injury or occupational disease because of work should report their injuries and seek medical treatment immediately. An injured worker then needs to file paperwork with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) to receive FECA benefits for their injury.  An injured employee has to prove to the OWCP that their work caused their injury before they can receive FECA benefits. In most cases, the employee needs to provide medical records to an OWCP Claims Examiner to do this. If the OWCP accepts the claim, the employee can receive benefits including:  This might seem simple on the surface, but the OWCP can make multiple requests for additional information before they make a decision, and you could still end up with a denial at the end.  What Does a Workers’ Compensation Causation Letter Do? The OWCP Procedure Manual states that if you didn’t suffer a “clear-cut” traumatic injury, you have to provide a rationalized medical opinion that proves your work caused your injury. This means that your physician might have to provide a lot of detail about what caused your injury and how.  A causation letter is a detailed letter from your physician that explains why they believe your work caused your injury. Your physician might provide this information at the beginning, a Claims Examiner might request this information, or you might need this information to appeal a claim denial. It could take several months before OWCP is satisfied with your evidence and makes an initial decision about your benefits. Consistently providing additional information and waiting that long for benefits can be harrowing when you’re dealing with an injury. A federal workman’s comp lawyer can handle your claim matters for you and help expedite the claim process.  Why Do I Need a Federal Workmen’s Compensation Lawyer for My FECA Claim? In general, workers’ compensation is a complicated and bureaucratic area of law. The process of filing a claim is even less user-friendly under FECA.  Workman’s Comp Lawyers Can Meet Stringent Evidence Requirements for FECA Claims Claims Examiners can require a lot of information before they make a decision. You might have to endure multiple rounds of information requests just to receive a Claims Examiner’s “yes” or “no.” A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can compile and present the right evidence to help you get your benefits.  Workman’s Comp Attorneys Have the Skill and Time to Represent You in FECA’s Difficult Appeals System   When you imagine attending a hearing to fight for your workers’ compensation benefits, you probably imagine entering a nearby hearing office to plead your case. For many FECA claimants, this is not an option. Most hearings are only reviews of the written record or telephone conferences that are limited in time. Appeals also happen only through the OWCP or the Employees’ Compensation Appeal Board. With such constraints on your ability to present your case, you likely need a work compensation lawyer to effectively represent your position.  In-person appeal hearings are even more difficult to obtain. You should know that there are only 12 Federal Employees Program Offices in the country. There might not be an office anywhere near your state. Workers’ compensation attorneys have the opportunities and resources you don’t have to travel to these offices and skillfully represent your position in person.  Reach Out to an Attorney Today to Champion Your Rights When you need benefits for a serious work injury, you don’t want any opportunity to slip through the cracks. At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we don’t let our injured clients’ opportunities pass them by. Our federal workers’ comp lawyers are experienced and passionate about protecting the rights of federal employees. If you need help, we hope you will contact us online or call us at 833-833-3529.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | FERS Disability

What Diseases and Injuries Are Considered Disabilities?

If you find yourself on this web page right now, you probably already know a bit about the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Under the FERS retirement disability program, workers who find themselves injured or otherwise disabled receive employment security benefits if they are unable to work due to their condition. Sometimes the benefits are temporary, but sometimes they are permanent. Furthermore, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of disability.  Some of the most common disability-related questions we get from our clients at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing have to do with what the FERS and ADA consider a disability. Those questions include things like: If you have any of these or other related questions, you’re in the right place. We put together this page specifically to help you assess whether your injury qualifies you for disability benefits. What’s Considered a Disability? There are quite a few different medical conditions that FERS considers disabilities. In fact, there are too many to cover here. You can, however, find an exemplary list that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses in its entirety right here. While FERS doesn’t use the exact same list, the two are very similar. After all, they both come from the federal government and serve near-identical functions. In all, the SSA’s list contains 14 categories of impairments:  This list encompasses a very broad range of different medical conditions and disabilities. At the end of the day, the most important element in qualifying for disability is demonstrating your inability to function at work as you would without the disorder. Notes on Some of the More Common Disorders in the List Injuries to hands, feet, and other extremities can qualify you for disability benefits if you are unable to work. For example, it’s possible you can get disability for plantar fasciitis, arthritis, or tendon damage. It all depends on the circumstances of the injury and your job duties.  If you injure yourself enough to warrant an amputation, chances are you qualify for disability. The federal government considers thumb amputation a disability. In fact, the federal government considers any finger amputation a disability. While losing a finger may not seem as extreme a disability as a terminal illness, losing a digit can significantly impede one’s ability to work. If you’re wondering whether cancer is a disability, the answer is a resounding yes. FERS, the SSA, and the federal government as a whole all consider cancer a disability, as does the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). In fact, you may have noticed that cancer warrants its own category in the SSA’s full list of medical conditions. Cancer itself, and many of the treatments associated with it, take a significant toll on patients’ bodies. As a result, working is often entirely out of the question for individuals with cancer. Excluding cancer in any form from the list of disabilities would be entirely inappropriate. Need Help with Your Disability Claim? More often than not, the most difficult part of getting disability benefits is proving that your condition is sufficient to render you unable to work in your position of record. The problem is that there is a subjective element in determining whether someone can work or not. The best thing you can do to ensure this process moves forward is with the help of a FERS disability attorney. They can help you gather evidence that proves your disability’s impact on your life. At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing, federal disability benefits are one of our primary focus areas. You have rights, so let us help you fight to protect them. Have a look at some of our client testimonials, then let’s get started. Call today!

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Workplace Discrimination

Federal Hostile Work Environment–What to Know

Discrimination in the workplace is illegal under federal law. In some cases, it is clear your employer is discriminating against you. However, that is not always the case. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discrimination is grossly underreported. In fact, the EEOC reports that three out of four employees who experience harassment on the job don’t do anything about it. While several factors contribute to this, one reason why employees don’t report discrimination is that they aren’t able to identify it.  A hostile work environment is when the hostile actions of a fellow employee or manager objectively create an intimidating or threatening work environment. If you believe you are experiencing discrimination at the workplace, reach out to the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Attorney Wersing is a federal hostile work environment attorney with extensive experience handling all types of employment discrimination matters. He has successfully represented countless clients in hostile work environment claims, helping them stop illegal discrimination in the workplace. What Makes a Hostile Work Environment? Under federal law, discrimination is illegal when it is based upon an employee’s protected trait. A hostile work environment is a type of harassment, which is included in the definition of discrimination. A hostile work environment claim is based on an employer allowing an intimidating environment to exist for one or more employees. Notably, it does not need to be a supervisor or a manager who creates a hostile work environment for an employer to be found liable. Hostile work environment claims can be filed when discrimination is based on any of the following traits: At its core, a hostile work environment claim addresses the unacceptable situation where an employer allows severe or pervasive discrimination to take place on their watch. This “severe and pervasive” language is key, as minor annoyances or petty insults do not generally rise to the level of a hostile work environment. Typically, a one-time insult will not create a hostile work environment. However, if it is severe enough, it may. More often, hostile work environment claims are based on ongoing patterns of behavior. More specifically, the conduct must be such that a reasonable person would consider the conduct intimidating, hostile, or abusive. For example, the following can all contribute to a hostile work environment: If you believe that your employer has allowed a hostile work environment to persist, reach out to a hostile work environment attorney for assistance. When Is an Employer Liable for Allowing a Hostile Work Environment? Hostile work environment claims come in two forms. The first type is when a manager, supervisor, or executive is the harassing party. In these situations, an employer is automatically liable if the harassment results in any negative employment outcome such as termination, lost wages, or a missed promotion. However, even if an employee does not suffer an adverse employment outcome, the employer will still be liable unless they can prove 1.) they tried to stop the harassing conduct, and 2.) the employee “unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.” The second type of hostile work environment claim involves a fellow employee’s harassing conduct. In these situations, it can be a bit harder to establish employer liability. To do so, you must show that the employer knew about the harassment (or should have known about it) and failed to take “prompt and corrective action.” For this reason, if you believe that you are being subjected to a hostile work environment, it is imperative that you register your concern with your employer. Not only will this allow your employer to remedy the situation, but it will also preserve your ability to file a federal hostile work environment claim against them if they fail to take your concerns seriously. Can an Employer Fire You for Reporting a Hostile Work Environment? Absolutely not. Employers are strictly prohibited from retaliating against an employee who reports any type of workplace discrimination, including a hostile work environment. The strength of your case is not important. The mere fact that you raised the claim (even if it later turns out your employer was not liable) protects you from any retaliation. If an employer retaliates against you for bringing a possible hostile work environment to their attention, you should immediately consult with a lawyer for hostile work environment claims. Contact a Federal Hostile Work Environment Lawyer for Immediate Assistance No one should live in fear of getting up and going to work. If your supervisors or colleagues are discriminating against you, you need hostile work environment attorneys who are ready to stand up for your rights. At the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, we proudly represent federal employees in all types of employment law disputes, including those involving hostile work environment claims against their federal employing agency. We have extensive experience bringing cases against all federal agencies across the country, and we are prepared to go up against them to preserve your right to a workplace free of hostility and discrimination. To learn more, speak with our federal hostile work environment attorney today, give us a call. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Employment Law

COVID-19 Paid Leave as a Federal Employee—What to Know

Since the COVID-19 Pandemic began last year, tens of millions of Americans have fallen sick with the disease. To help protect its workers and their families, the government has offered several benefits to federal workers who experience difficulties because of COVID-19.  If you’re one of the many federal employees with coronavirus, you’ve probably asked yourself, Do I get paid if I have COVID-19? The good news is that there is paid COVID-19 leave for federal workers who had the disease, been quarantined, or had to care for an ill family member. Take a moment to learn more about whether you are eligible for federal COVID-19 leave.  Is There Federal COVID-19 Leave? Yes. The latest effort to provide federal employees with leave began in March. At that time, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). ARPA included a provision that granted federal employees up to 15 weeks of emergency paid leave (EPL) under certain COVID-19-related circumstances. As outlined by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), employees can obtain COVID-19 leave if they meet one of eight qualifying circumstances. Here are several of those circumstances: To receive the paid sick leave, the employee must be unable to work at their office and unable to work from home because of the qualifying circumstance. Also, federal agencies cannot force any employee to use other forms of paid leave before requesting EPL.  Limitations of Federal COVID-19 Leave Under the American Rescue Plan Act Unlike regular paid sick leave, EPL has a monetary cap. An employee will receive 100% of their salary if that salary is less than $1,400 per week. EPL provides no compensation beyond that cap. Therefore, if you normally make $2,000 a week in your federal position, you’ll only receive $1,400 for each week you use EPL.  Also, there is a small window of time to use emergency paid leave. Employees can only use EPL between March 11 and September 30. 2021. Finally, the government set aside a limited amount of money—$570 million—to pay for emergency paid leave. If those funds run out before September 30, 2021, then you cannot receive EPL.  Who Processes EPL Claims? After you request EPL from your employer, they’ll decide whether or not to accept your request. Assuming they accept your claim, they will forward it to OPM for reimbursement. However, it may take time for OPM to resolve your claim because it processes EPL claims on a first-come, first-served basis. That’s one reason why it’s important to request EPL sooner rather than later.  What If I Had COVID-19 in 2020? You cannot request EPL if you had COVID-19 last year. Before passing ARPA, the government offered federal COVID-19 leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. After Congress passed the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, OPM released clarifying guidance for all federal agencies. According to that guidance, EPSLA gave employees up to 80 hours of paid leave if they were in quarantine, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or caring for a family member. EPSLA’s paid sick leave equaled 100% of the employee’s regular pay if the employee was in quarantine or had COVID-19 symptoms. Unlike EPL, EPSLA’s COVID-19 leave did not have a pay cap.  So Do I Get Paid If I Have COVID? Yes and no. There isn’t a law that gives COVID-19 payments specifically to federal employees. However, federal employees indirectly receive payments through EPL because it is paid leave. Moreover, any federal employee who made less than a certain amount of money ($75,000 for an individual or $150,000 for a couple) received stimulus checks earlier this year.  Is Your Employer Giving You the Federal COVID-19 Leave that You Deserve? Getting COVID-19 can be a devastating experience with long-lasting effects. Because of that, the new federal COVID-19 leave law grants you special rights for COVID-19-related situations. If your employer is denying you emergency paid leave or retaliating against you because of your sick leave request, they may be infringing on your rights.  At the Law Office of Aaron D. Wesing, PPLC., we work to help federal employees stand up for their rights. We have many years of experience assisting hundreds of federal employees with a huge range of federal employment problems. If you think your employer is violating your rights, contact us online or call (833) 833-3529. Don’t wait. Let us help you!

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