| 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: Slurs and name-calling; Derogatory comments; Offensive gestures; Ridicule or mockery; Physical assaults; Threats; and Insults. 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: Ergonomic office furniture; Permission to sit or stand while working; Work shift changes; Permission to work from home; and Altered break schedules. A pregnant employee can also receive accommodation for conditions that are caused or aggravated by their pregnancy. Potential conditions include: Lupus; Anemia; Gestational diabetes; Postpartum depression; and Complications from childbirth. 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. All of our initial consultations are free, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out 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 Discrimination

Understanding Religious Discrimination in the Federal Workplace

Religious freedom is one of the greatest liberties in American society. Thanks to the First Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Americans may practice their religious belief (or non-belief) without fear of religious discrimination in the workplace. Consequently, if you think you are experiencing religious discrimination, you should contact a federal employment attorney right away. What Is Religious Discrimination? Most Americans understand that religious discrimination is prohibited by law. Not as many understand religious discrimination’s exact definition as it applies to the federal workplace.  Put simply, religious discrimination is any negative treatment of an employee or applicant because of that employee’s religion. The prohibition against religious discrimination is very broad. In fact, religious discrimination law protects not only adherents of major global religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It also shields those who follow little-known faiths and all those who have any kind of sincerely held religious or moral beliefs. This means that atheists and agnostics are also protected against religious discrimination in the workplace.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids religious discrimination in any and all aspects of employment. This includes things like hiring, firing, compensation, promotions, training, work schedule, and job assignments.  The definition of religious discrimination includes harassment as well. Religious harassment refers to several different offensive behaviors aimed at someone because of their religion, including: Slurs, Insults, Offensive comments or jokes, Verbal threats, and Physical assaults. However, any demeaning behavior that creates an objectively hostile or offensive work environment constitutes harassment. On the other hand, simple teasing and isolated incidents do not usually constitute illegal harassment. Unfortunately, there are situations where it can be difficult to tell if you are experiencing harassment. A knowledgeable federal employment attorney can help you make sense of your situation and move forward.  Examples of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace Religious discrimination is distressingly common. According to a 2019 Pew Research study, over 80% of Americans believe that members of at least one religion experience religious discrimination. Specifically, 82% of Americans said that Muslims experienced at least some religious discrimination, and 50% believed that Evangelical Christians were the target of at least some religious discrimination.  Yet what does religious discrimination actually look like? Here are a few examples of religious discrimination and harassment in the workplace: Not being selected for a position because your supervisor doesn’t like your religion; Being forced to work on a day prohibited by your religion; Facing punishment because your supervisor refuses to allow you to pray at certain times during the workday; Being turned down for a promotion because the other applicant goes to the same church as the selecting official;   Hearing from co-workers or supervisors that you’re a “bigot,” “terrorist,” or “kook” because of your religious beliefs.  These are just a few examples. A qualified federal labor law attorney can help you understand if your situation constitutes religious discrimination or harassment.  Looking to Learn More About Religious Discrimination in the Workplace? Religious discrimination is no joke. It can cause isolation, depression, and burnout. It can be easy to feel defeated when you’re subjected to religious discrimination every day. But there’s good news. You have rights.  At the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, our passion is helping federal employees stand up for their rights. We believe that no employee should have to deal with religious discrimination. Unlike many other firms, we focus exclusively on helping federal employees, which means we know what we’re doing.  Together, we can help you fight back against the discriminatory actors in your work environment. We can also help you receive just compensation for the losses you’ve experienced because of religious discrimination.  People are often reluctant to hire an attorney because they are anxious about money. We understand that, and we don’t want money to keep you from reaching out to us. That’s why all our initial consultations are free. There’s nothing to lose by giving us a call today at (866)612-5956 or contacting us online. Don’t wait. Let us help you!

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| Read Time: 2 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: John’s co-worker threatens him on Facebook after he learns that John received a promotion to manager. Barbara’s supervisor sends her demeaning, rude text messages after work. One of Dave’s subordinates records him falling at work after getting sick from food poisoning and then posts it on Instagram as a joke.  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: Calmly tell the bully to stop; Keep a paper trail; Report the cyberbully to HR or your supervisor;  If the cyberbully physically threatens you, contact the police.  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. That’s why all of our initial consultations are free. Don’t let the trauma of cyberbullying continue. Reach out to us today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Federal Employment Law

What to Do If Your Security Clearance Was Revoked

As almost any federal employee can tell you, receiving and holding a security clearance is a common part of government work. In fact, the overwhelming majority of government positions require some level of clearance, whether it is confidential, secret, or top secret. For that reason, a revoked security clearance can be devastating for your career. Yet there is hope for those who have their security clearance revoked. Read on to learn about your options after your agency revokes your security clearance. Keep in mind, however, that you should contact a workplace discrimination lawyer immediately after your security clearance has been revoked. First Things First: Who Can Revoke a Security Clearance? It depends on your employer. For example, the Department of Defense Consolidated Adjudications Facility (DoDCAF) is the primary organization responsible for revoking the security clearances of federal DoD employees. Other agencies, such as the Department of Energy and the Department of State, have their own personnel security programs. If your security clearance has been revoked, then the name of the agency responsible for the decision will probably be listed on the revocation paperwork.  My Security Clearance Was Revoked. Now What? You do not have to simply accept your employer’s decision to revoke your security clearance. Federal law provides federal employees with the right to dispute revocation. In fact, you have two opportunities. When agencies suspect their employees of being untrustworthy, they often provide the employee with a “Notice of Intent to Revoke,” or NIR.  The NIR states that the employee’s security clearance is at risk. Furthermore, the NIR generally states why the agency intends to revoke the employee’s clearance. In addition, the NIR grants the employee the opportunity to plead their case to the agency before it makes the final revocation decision. You should take full advantage of this opportunity to provide favorable evidence. Many times, an employee can save their security clearance simply by taking thorough action at this stage. Make sure that you respond quickly, however, because NIRs give employees only a short window of time to act.  Even if the agency revokes your security clearance, you still have options. For one, if the revocation leads to removal, you can appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). However, the MSPB’s review of your agency’s decision is quite limited. The Board cannot assess the merits of the agency’s decision to revoke your security clearance.  Regardless of what stage you are in the security revocation process, it’s important to be proactive and thorough. In fact, your best course of action is to consult an attorney who has expertise with federal employment cases.  Do You Need Help Getting Your Security Clearance Back? The Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC is a law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of federal employees. We have represented many federal employees over the years, including in security revocation cases. Unlike most other law firms, our practice focuses specifically on federal employment law, which means we are familiar with all the unique aspects of government work. We will work with you to explore your options after your security clearance is revoked. In many cases, we can also assist you in appealing your agency’s decision to revoke your security clearance.  We recognize that hiring an attorney is a big decision. Yet we do not want you to let money keep you from contacting us. That’s why all our initial consultations are free. You have nothing to lose in setting up an appointment with us. So don’t wait. Contact us right away.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Employment Law

Can You Reapply for a Security Clearance If It Was Denied or Revoked?

Holding a security clearance is vital for almost every government position. As a result, experiencing a security clearance denial can be one of the worst possible things that can happen for a potential federal applicant. Likewise, current federal employees who have their security clearance revoked will almost inevitably lose their positions.  Because the stakes of a security clearance denial or revocation are so high, many people wonder whether reapplying for a security clearance is a possibility for them. Read on to learn more about whether those who have been denied a security clearance can reapply for one. Then consider reaching out to a qualified federal employment attorney to maximize your chances of success.  Can You Reapply After a Security Clearance Denial or Revocation? Yes. Time heals all things, including security clearance revocations. However, the exact reapplication procedures vary from one agency to another. For example, Department of Defense (DoD) regulations state that a security clearance applicant is barred from further reapplication for one year after their security clearance is denied. In addition, reapplicants must obtain a sponsor before reapplying for a security clearance.  Because sponsors will almost always be a corporation or other business, begin researching companies that might be willing to sponsor you. Lean on your professional contacts to find potential leads. Make sure that you are flexible with regard to the kind of position that you apply for at the sponsor company. If necessary, consider applying for an entry-level position just to get “your foot in the door” with a company that can sponsor you. In the long run, getting a security clearance will be more important to your career than your initial position at your sponsor company. What to Do Before You Reapply for a Security Clearance  While you wait to reapply, it is critical that you resolve all outstanding issues in your security clearance profile. Whenever your security clearance is denied or revoked, the team in charge of conducting security clearances investigations—such as the DoD’s Consolidated Adjudications Facility (CAF)—will state clearly the reasons for their decision. Maybe the reason for the denial revolves around your finances, past criminal behavior, drug use, or psychological issues. Whatever the reason, it’s critical that you address that area of your life without delay. If your security clearance was revoked because of your finances, pay down or resolve outstanding debts and reduce your expenses. If alcohol or drug use was the cause of the denial, enter a rehabilitation program or Alcoholics Anonymous. For personal problems, consider seeing a therapist or psychiatrist. Taking action now will greatly improve your chances of success. The Importance of Being Honest When you reapply for your security clearance, do not forget to be completely honest. One of the most common mistakes made by applicants is downplaying or omitting negative information in their applications. However, the government does not tolerate dishonesty. Even a little “white lie” can torpedo your reapplication chances, regardless of the strides you have made in addressing the problems of your original application.   Contact an Experienced Federal Employment Lawyer Today If your back is up against the wall because a federal agency denied or revoked your security clearance, then you need legal representation immediately.  The stakes of a security clearance reapplication are simply too high for you to represent yourself.  Let the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC guide you through the reapplication process, build your case, and help you regain your livelihood. It is both our privilege and passion to work with people who want to serve their country, so we will do everything possible to help you get your security clearance.  Our firm has decades of experience in employment law, so we know how to help you succeed. Don’t gamble with your future by going it alone. Contact us online today or at (866)612-5956.

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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 a free 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: Not receiving a promotion because of your race, Facing termination because of your sexual orientation or religion,  Receiving less pay for doing the same work because of your color or national origin, and Not getting the training you need because of your sexual identity. 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: Regularly hearing slurs or offensive jokes related to your race or sex, Being called insulting names because of your sexual orientation, and Being physically assaulted or threatened because of your age or disability.  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: Race, Religion, Color, National origin, Age (40 or over), Sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), Disability (physical or mental), and  Genetic information, 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. All initial consultations are free, so you have nothing to lose. Don’t wait. Give us a call today at (833) 833-3529.  

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Retirement

Federal Employee Retirement Survivor Benefits Explained

It is well known that federal employment offers many valuable benefits. Chief among these benefits is the generous federal retirement package. The retirement program in the federal government is the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which Congress created in 1986. In addition to retirement benefits, FERS features survivor death benefits in some cases. Specifically, FERS survivor benefits grant a certain percentage of a deceased federal employee’s annual benefit amount to a current or former spouse. This article will discuss the key details of federal retirement survivor benefits, but it is always a good idea to reach out to a qualified federal employment attorney for additional information.  How Many Types of FERS Survivor Benefits Are Available?  The recipient of a deceased federal employee can receive three kinds of benefits. The first type is the current spouse survivor annuity. As the name implies, this benefit is payable only to the person who was the current spouse of the federal employee at the time of the employee’s death. The second kind of benefit is an annuity for former spouses. The former spouse annuity can arise when the deceased employee voluntarily chose to establish it before their death. Alternatively, courts can also award annuities to former spouses through a divorce decree, provided it was granted after May 7, 1985. The third and final type of benefit is a one-time lump sum benefit. These three FERS survivor benefits are available only if the employee died while employed with the federal government.  How Much Can a Current or Former Spouse Receive in FERS Survivor Benefits? As with many other aspects of federal benefits, the amount varies widely. The maximum payable survivor benefit amount is equal to 50% of the federal employee’s unreduced annual benefit. The federal employee’s annual benefit will depend on the deceased employee’s time in government service, age, and pay level. The federal employee has a large role in deciding how much their survivor benefits are, even to the point of deciding the spouse receives no survivor benefit. They can also elect for the spouse to have a partially reduced annuity or a fully reduced annuity.  How Long Do FERS Survivor Benefits Last? Surviving spouse annuities (whether to former or current spouses) continue for the life of the spouse unless the spouse remarries before they reach age 55. There is an exception to this rule, however, if the spouse and employee were married for over 30 years. In that case, the spouse of the deceased employee will receive annuity payments regardless of whether they remarry or not.  Curious to Learn More About FERS Survivor Benefits? It is very difficult it is to lose a spouse. We understand that sorting out financial matters is probably the last thing you want to deal with when your spouse passes away. On top of that, the world of federal retirement survivor benefits is often difficult to navigate on your own. If your deceased spouse was a federal employee, we can help ensure that you obtain the benefits that they intended you to have.  Here at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we are dedicated to assisting with all kinds of federal employment matters. We care about all of our clients, and we are passionate about ensuring that they obtain the compensation they deserve. We have many years of experience successfully helping our clients—as our client reviews show. Together, we can work with you to help maximize your FERS survivor benefits.  Many people wrongly believe that hiring an attorney will cost them a small fortune. However, we don’t want money problems to prevent people from reaching out and consulting us. That’s why all of our initial consultations are free. Don’t lose out on obtaining the federal retirement benefits you rightfully deserve. Contact us today.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal EEOC

An EEOC Lawyer Explains the Process of Filing an 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, your initial consultation is free. You have nothing to lose by reaching out and letting us review your case. Let us fight for you today!

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