| 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: 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: 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, 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! 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: A summary of the discriminatory actions or harassment that occurred,  The EEO bases for the claim, and The time or date that the illegal actions occurred. It is critical to remember you only have 45 days...

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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:  Payment for medical bills; Compensation for wage losses; and Assistance with returning to work. 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. We offer free consultations. 

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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: Is cancer considered a disability under FERS? Is cancer a disability under the ADA? Where can I find a full list of covered disabilities and injuries? 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:  Musculoskeletal disorders, Special senses and speech disorders, Respiratory disorders, Cardiovascular diseases, Digestive system disorders, Genitourinary disorders, Hematological disorders, Skin disorders, Endocrine disorders, Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems, Neurological disorders, Mental disorders, Cancer, and Immune system disorders. 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 with a free consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | FERS Disability

Is Federal Disability Retirement Income Taxable?

If you have been a federal employee and are seeking to receive disability retirement income, you might have to pay taxes on that income. This isn’t pleasant news, but the following article can help you prepare for what’s next.  Common Kinds of Federal Disability Retirement Income The first step federal employees should take to understand their tax liabilities on federal disability retirement payments is to understand what kind of federal benefits they’re receiving. Common retirement benefits a federal employee might receive include:  Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Disability retirement income from the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS), Disability retirement income from the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), Military Disability Retirement Pay (MDRP, and Veterans’ benefits. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) handles many matters related to FERS and CSRS payments.  Some of the above-listed benefits are taxable, and some aren’t. For payments and benefits that are taxable, they are taxable at different levels.   Is OPM Disability Retirement Taxable at the Federal Level? OPM oversees matters regarding FERS and CSRS disability retirement payments.  Is FERS disability retirement taxable at the federal level? Some FERS disability retirement is taxable.  Individuals can receive FERS disability retirement if they have certain characteristics, including: Completion of at least 18 months of creditable Federal civilian service, A disabling condition that affects their work and is expected to last for at least a year, The inability to receive accommodations from their employer, and Status as an applicant or recipient of Social Security benefits. Recipients of a FERS disability retirement annuity do show these benefits as taxable income. Is CSRS disability retirement federally taxable? Some CSRS disability retirement is federally taxable. An eligible recipient of CSRS disability retirement must:  Have at least five years of creditable Federal civilian service to their name, Have a disability they incurred while they were employed in a job subject to CSRS and that prevents them from working that job, Have a qualifying disability expected to last a year or longer, and Have certification that their employer cannot accommodate them.  CSRS retirement disability recipients also must pay tax on their benefits.  Whether you are seeking CSRS or FERS retirement disability benefits, you have a limited amount of time to apply for them. You also have to follow specific rules to maintain them. This can be overwhelming when you are trying to handle a disability. An experienced federal employment disability lawyer can recover your benefits while you adjust to changes in your life.  Income Tax Rules from Your State Can Differ While some of your disability retirement benefits might not be federally taxable, your benefits could be subject to state income taxes.  Contact an Attorney Today to Protect What Is Yours It’s stressful to determine how much vital income you can keep when you’re receiving benefits for a debilitating condition. But you don’t have to figure this out on your own. At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we have helped hundreds of federal employees with their employment issues. We have substantial experience, and we are passionate about helping federal employees. Let us help you. Contact us online or call us at 866-508-2158 for a free consultation. 

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Wrongful Termination

Constructive Discharge vs Wrongful Termination—What Is the Difference?

If you felt forced to leave your job because the environment was unbearable, the terms constructive discharge and wrongful termination may come to mind.  While both terms relate to ending employment, the main difference between wrongful termination and constructive discharge is the person who ends the employment relationship. In constructive discharge cases, the employee terminates the relationship, whereas in wrongful termination cases, the employer ends it. In this article, we will explore what is constructive discharge and how to prove you were constructively discharged. What Is Constructive Discharge? Constructive discharge occurs when an employee resigns due to intolerable working conditions. Rather than being fired, the employee voluntarily quits because they feel there is no other reasonable alternative. Here are some common examples of working conditions that may be grounds for a constructive discharge claim: Sexual harassment; Hostile work environment; Illegal discrimination based on sex, race, religion, etc.; Retaliation against an employee who filed a valid complaint; and Bullying in the workplace by co-workers or supervisors. While it’s easy to define constructive discharge, proving it can be more difficult.  How Does an Employee Prove Constructive Discharge? Quitting your job because of unfair treatment is not enough to bring a constructive discharge claim.  Rather, the employee must be able to prove the following: The working conditions were so intolerable that any reasonable person would quit; and  The employee quit because of the intolerable conditions. Intolerable work conditions can include sexual harassment, discriminatory practices, violent acts, illegal requests, and coercive or deceptive conduct. You do not have to prove that your employer intended for you to quit but only that their actions are what made you believe you had to resign and that any reasonable person would have done the same.  When an employee voluntarily leaves a job, typically they lose the right to unemployment benefits, due process through their employer, and bringing a wrongful discharge claim. This incentivizes the employer to create an intolerable environment and force the employee out rather than firing the employee.  How Long Does a Federal Employee Have to Bring a Constructive Discharge Claim? To file a constructive discharge claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal employees have 45 days from the date the employee resigns, not the date of the last intolerable act or acts. There are different deadlines if you are bringing your claim through the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), generally 30 days from the date of resignation.  To ensure you do not miss the filing deadline or lose the opportunity to protect your rights, consult with an experienced federal employment lawyer as soon as possible.  Contact the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing Our attorneys will evaluate the events surrounding your employment resignation to determine whether you can bring a constructive discharge claim against your employer. We dedicate our practice to protecting the rights of federal employees. Let us fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling 866-690-8076 or filling out our contact form online.

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