| Read Time: 3 minutes | Federal Disability

Am I Eligible for Federal Disability Retirement with Mental Health Conditions?

If you are a federal employee with mental health conditions, you’re probably thinking about your financial future. What if your condition worsens? What if you’re not able to continue your work?  In our legal work, we find that many federal employees with mental health conditions are interested in federal disability retirement. Perhaps you are in the same situation.  We’ll discuss the federal laws and regulations surrounding disability retirement and mental health conditions. For more detailed questions, it’s best to contact a qualified federal employment attorney.   Am I Eligible for Federal Disability Retirement with Mental Health Conditions?  It’s possible. There are many mental health conditions that qualify for federal disability retirement. A few examples include:  Many other mental health conditions could also qualify. It all depends on whether you meet the general standards for disability retirement. The same standards apply to federal disabilities, regardless of whether you have a physical or mental disability.  How Do I Obtain FERS Disability Retirement? The first step is showing you have a disability. Second, you must prove your disability prevents you from doing your job. For both steps, you will need to furnish medical evidence supporting your claim. This evidence may include medical records, doctors’ opinions, and other documentation that reveal the severity and extent of your condition. You will probably have to explain how your disability affects your ability to perform your duties. It’s important to know that the federal government has specific criteria for what constitutes an eligible disability. These criteria include the following: Finally, you must apply for disability retirement within one year of being separated from your job and apply for social security benefits. Why You Should Contact a Federal Retirement Attorney for Your Disability Retirement Application As you can see, applying for federal disability retirement is complex. For that reason, you should seek legal assistance from a federal attorney experienced in handling disability retirement cases. An experienced federal disability retirement attorney can help you with several key tasks. Reason #1: An Attorney Can Help You Understand the Process An attorney can help you understand the steps involved in the application process. This includes what forms you need to fill out and what medical evidence you need to provide. They can also advise you on presenting your case to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). With their knowledge and experience, they can guide you through the process and ensure that your application is completed correctly and efficiently. Reason #2: An Attorney Can Maximize Your Chances of Approval Attorneys, especially those who specialize in disability retirement cases, know the common mistakes and pitfalls that can lead to application denials. Things like missing or incorrect information, typos, and bureaucratic demands from your agency can all lead to denials. They can identify and address those problems before submitting your application to OPM. This helps maximize your chances of approval and avoid unnecessary delays or appeals. Reason #3: An Attorney Can Protect Your Rights OPM sometimes mistakenly rejects a sound disability retirement application. Other times, your agency might torpedo or impede your application. You might even experience retaliation from your employer. In these situations, a disability retirement attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options. Furthermore, they can represent you in all kinds of hearings, meditation sessions, and appeals. Due to their legal training, attorneys know how to put the legal system to work for you.  Disability for Mental Illness: A Legitimate Option for Federal Employees Am I eligible for federal disability retirement with mental health conditions? Asking this question is the beginning of your journey toward a successful federal disability retirement application. With the right support and legal assistance, you can receive the benefits you are entitled to under federal law. So if you have a mental health condition and are considering filing for federal disability retirement, get the help you deserve right away.  At the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, our team of skilled attorneys understands the complex legal and medical issues involved in disability retirement cases. We apply that knowledge to provide effective legal representation to our clients. We are passionate about helping federal employees struggling with mental health conditions navigate the system and get the benefits they deserve. When you contact us for your consultation, we will take the time to listen to your concerns. We’ll answer your questions and explain your legal options. Our attorneys will be with you every step of the way to secure your future. Contact us today at 866-612-5956 or visit us online.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Whistleblower Claims

What Is a Protected Disclosure in a Federal Whistleblower Case?

Under federal whistleblower law, a protected disclosure is a report of wrongdoing or misconduct made by an employee or contractor of the federal government. The disclosure must be made in good faith. In addition, it must concern several specific types of allegations, such as a violation of a law, rule, regulation, or other legal requirement.  You’re probably reading this article because you’re considering blowing the whistle on your employer. You may very well feel overwhelmed, scared, or anxious. But the good news is that federal law provides protections for whistleblowers. More than that, you don’t have to fight this battle alone. Contact a qualified federal employment attorney for assistance today.  First Things First: What Protection Is There for Whistleblowers? Two legislative cornerstones work together to protect whistleblowers. The first is the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), and the second is the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA).  The WPA Congress originally passed the WPA in 1978, but it has been updated several times. The WPA specifically protects federal employees who make protected disclosures about government misconduct. It also prohibits retaliation against employees who disclose things like waste, fraud, abuse of authority, or violations of law, rules, or regulations. Finally, the WPA furnishes a process for whistleblowers to file complaints to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and seek remedies for retaliation. Thanks to the WPA, federal employers can’t take adverse personnel actions against an employee who makes a protected disclosure. And what are adverse personnel actions? They include, but are not limited to: If an employee experiences retaliation, they can file a complaint with the OSC within 45 days of the adverse action. The OSC will then investigate the complaint. If it finds evidence of retaliation, it can take corrective action, including reinstatement, back pay, and attorneys’ fees. The WPEA In 2012, Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), which strengthened the legal protections for federal whistleblowers. The WPEA clarified and expanded the definition of a protected disclosure, making it easier for employees to qualify for whistleblower protections. The WPEA also expanded the WPA’s scope to cover more employees. Newly covered personnel included Transportation Security Administration employees and intelligence community employees. Even government contractors received coverage under the WPEA.  The WPEA provides several key additional protections for whistleblowers. For one, it adds a mechanism for whistleblowers who experience retaliation to get temporary relief. The WPEA also empowers a whistleblower to request a stay of an adverse personnel action while their complaint is pending. If the OSC determines that the employee has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, it can request they receive reinstatement while their complaint is pending. So What Is a Protected Disclosure in a Federal Whistleblower Case? Now that you know more about key whistleblower legal protections, let’s dive into the issue we mentioned at the beginning of this article. A protected disclosure is a release of information by a federal employee that demonstrates evidence of: Those categories provide sweeping protections to all kinds of statements. Protected statements can be made to a supervisor, the Inspector General, or even Congress. However, many disclosures still fall outside the definition of “protected disclosures.” For instance, a personal grievance or report of general workplace dissatisfaction probably won’t count as a protected disclosure. Nor will a general complaint unrelated to any illegal activity or safety concerns.  Three Examples of Protected Disclosures To help drive the point home, let’s imagine three potential real-world scenarios involving protected disclosures. Example #1 Jane is a federal employee working for the Department of Agriculture. One day, she discovers her supervisor has been illegally selling government-owned land to a private company for personal gain. Jane reports this misconduct to her agency’s Office of Inspector General. This would count as a protected disclosure under the WPA. Example #2: John is an applicant for a position with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After his interview, he stumbles upon evidence that a high-ranking official in the agency has been tampering with data to downplay the impact of a hazardous chemical on public health. John decides to share this information, a protected disclosure, with the agency’s Office of Special Counsel. Example #3: Sarah works for the Department of Defense. She has been assigned to a project that she believes poses a serious risk to national security. She brings it up to her supervisor first, but he orders her to stay quiet. As a union member, she decides to contact a union steward and file a grievance to disclose the information.  You Don’t Have to Fight Wrongdoing on Your Own. Let Us Help. Legal assistance is crucial if you are considering making a protected disclosure. It’s even more critical if you think you are facing whistleblower retaliation. Many wrongdoers in the government resort to intimidation and threats to protect themselves. And often, whistleblower complaint procedures become complicated quickly. Don’t go it alone. Trust our team at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling whistleblower complaints before the OSC. When you consult with us, we will listen to your story and apply the law to your situation. Then we will inform you of your legal options and potential next steps. Let’s collaborate to safeguard your rights and secure your fair compensation. Time is of the essence, so don’t wait another moment. Call us today at 866-612-5956 or contact us online.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | FERS Disability

Can You Still Work While on FERS Disability?

Many federal employees rest easy knowing they have a disability retirement option in the federal government. Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), employees who are unable to perform their job duties due to a medical problem may be eligible for disability retirement. However, that doesn’t always mean you have a secure financial future. Most civil servants need additional income to supplement their federal disability payments. Despite this need, many federal employees choose not to work because they think having another job will make them ineligible for disability retirement benefits. But this raises some important questions. Can you still work while applying for disability benefits? Can you still work while on disability? The answer is that you can work while on FERS disability under certain conditions. Read on to learn more about the rules and regulations governing working while on FERS disability. We’ll separate the myths from the facts so that you can take action to secure your future.  Overview of FERS Disability Retirement FERS provides a comprehensive retirement and disability program for federal employees, including disability retirement benefits. You need to fulfill two requirements to be eligible for FERS disability retirement. First, you must have completed at least 18 months of creditable federal civilian service. Second, you must suffer a disability that makes you unable to successfully perform your job duties. The second requirement can take some time to complete because agencies will try to provide you with reasonable accommodation first. Your agency may also try to reassign you to another position. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is responsible for processing disability retirement applications and making determinations on eligibility. An employee approved for FERS disability retirement will receive a monthly annuity payment based on their length of service and the highest three years of average pay. Can You Still Work While on FERS Disability? Yes. As OPM itself makes clear, federal employees who receive FERS disability retirement benefits can generally work in the private sector without seeing a loss of their benefits.  That said, there are restrictions on how much income they can earn from their employment. OPM sees federal employees in either one of two categories. If you are under age 60, OPM will stop paying your disability annuity if they determine you can earn a certain level of income. That amount is 80% of the current rate of base for the position you had when you retired. OPM will send you a survey form called “Annuitant’s Report of Income.” In this survey, you must state all income earned from wages and self-employment. If you hit the 80% threshold, you will lose your disability benefits. You won’t lose your benefits immediately. Instead, you will not receive those benefits for six months after the end of the year that you hit the 80% mark. There are no earnings limits for federal employees who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in addition to FERS disability retirement benefits. However, they must still meet the eligibility requirements for both programs and report their earnings to both the OPM and the Social Security Administration (SSA). Situations That May Cause You to Lose Your Disability Benefits OPM guidance specifies that you can lose your benefits in several other ways. One trigger for losing benefits is regaining employment in a position similar to your prior federal position. Another way involves periodic medical reviews. OPM will periodically review your disability eligibility. If they decide to review your case, they will ask you to obtain updated medical paperwork from your doctor. They will also inquire about your employment status. If your doctor communicates that you no longer have a disability, your disability payments will end. Furthermore, if you fail to respond to OPM’s requests, they will suspend your disability benefits.  What If I Am Age 60 or Older? If you are 60 or older, the situation changes significantly. OPM will conduct a periodic medical review only at your request. Moreover, the 80% threshold mentioned earlier in this article will not apply. That means you can work a private job paying more than your former government job while receiving your disability annuity. How to File for FERS Disability Retirement To apply for FERS disability retirement, federal employees must complete and submit Form SF 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement. You’ll also need to submit supporting medical documentation and other required forms. You send the application to your agency, which will forward it to OPM for review and determination. The application process for FERS disability retirement is often complex and time-consuming. Working with an experienced FERS disability retirement lawyer can help ensure your application is successful. What About CSRS Disability Retirement? While this article has focused on FERS disability retirement, it’s important to note that it doesn’t cover all federal employees. A few, more senior employees may fall under the old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). The CSRS has a separate disability retirement program with its own set of limitations. Contact us today to learn more about your disability retirement options under the CSRS. Let Us Help You Overcome Federal Disability Retirement Challenges If you are a federal employee considering applying for FERS disability retirement, you need legal assistance. You will probably also benefit from a lawyer if you are on disability retirement benefits and interested in working. In either scenario, the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, can help. Our experienced attorneys specialize in representing federal employees in a wide range of legal matters. In addition, we pride ourselves on providing incredible customer service and excellent outcomes. Reach out to us today.

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Federal Retirement

What Is the FERS Disability Processing Time?

If you’re a federal employee and can’t work due to a medical condition, your employer has you covered. The federal government’s Federal Employment Retirement System (FERS) offers disability retirement benefits to employees in your situation.  But if you are claiming FERS benefits, you may wonder, What is the FERS disability retirement processing time? After getting the answer to the first question, you may then wonder, why does it take so long? Additionally, is there a way to speed up the process? If you are looking for answers to these questions, read on.  Our FERS disability attorneys will explain what you need to know. What Is the FERS Disability Retirement Processing Time? The turnaround time for a FERS disability retirement processing time for your application varies from case to case. Sometimes the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can do it in as little as three months. Other times it can take longer than a year. The average time, however, is six to nine months. Many factors affect the processing time.  Not getting a decision within a reasonable amount of time can be more than just frustrating. If you don’t have significant savings or dependents, losing your ability to work can put you in dire financial straits. While you can’t move to the front of the line, you can help ensure you don’t have to go to the back of the line again by properly submitting all of your paperwork in line with the OPM protocol. For a more in-depth discussion of the FERS disability retirement timeline and any related issues, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of Aaron Wersing PLLC for help. Our firm focuses on federal employment law, so we know the ins and outs of FERS disability retirement. With our experience, we can help to ensure your application and related documents are properly filed and filled out. Our job is to help you, and we take that charge seriously. Why Does It Take So Long? Several things make this application process take a long time. These factors can also make the FERS disability retirement timeline difficult to predict in a given case. Perhaps the most important contributing factor is that the OPM, which makes these decisions, does so on a first-come-first-served basis. When you submit your application, it is impossible to know how many applications are in front of you. The number can vary widely. Also, the OPM is a sizable bureaucratic network. They are responsible for all federal employees (2.1 million in 2020). As such, the gears of the federal government can take a while to turn. This is unavoidable, but there are ways that may help expedite an application. What Else Might Make a Decision Take Longer? A very important factor in how long your decision will take depends on your status with the agency. If you have already been separated from federal service for more than 30 days when you submit your application, your application is processed quicker. This is because your application goes straight to OPM in Boyers, PA, where it gets processed and issued a civil service annuity (CSA) number. After getting a civil service annuity number, the application goes to OPM headquarters in Washington D.C., where a decision is made. Contrast this with the process that an application from someone who is still on agency roles as an employee, or within 30 days of separation. In such instances, an application will need to go through several offices before arriving at a decision. First, your application goes to the specific agency you work for, to process. Then, many agencies will send your application to their centralized HR facility for further processing. After this point, your application will be sent to Boyers, PA for a CSA number.  How Does OPM Determine FERS Disability Retirement Eligibility? The following seven factors help guide the OPM disability retirement approval rate and their decision-making process regarding your FERS disability retirement application. These requirements are cumulative. In other words, they all must be met. If the federal agency you work for can provide reasonable accommodations that will allow you to work with your present condition, they should do so. Similarly, if your federal agency cannot accommodate you in your position, it should reassign you to a different qualifying job vacancy at the agency, if such a position is available. This type of reassignment is known as the “accommodation of last resort”. If you can be accommodated or reassigned, you will not be eligible for FERS disability retirement benefits. Keep in mind that accommodation must actually accommodate your medical needs as long as it will not place an undue burden on your agency, and a reassignment must actually be to a position that you are able to perform with your medical condition and symptoms.  What Can I Do If I Don’t Get a Decision? If a decision takes too long, you may have a right to appeal. Failure to respond is essentially a constructive denial that you can appeal. An administrative law judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) will hear your case and determine your eligibility. Follow the steps outlined below to help with the appeal process. The amount of time that is “too long” is not set in stone, so a lawyer can be very helpful in this instance. If your application is taking too long, the best thing you can do is be diligent in your follow-up. Once you submit your application, you should inquire as to your application status monthly. Document your inquiry: save emails; save any other correspondence; document phone calls, and record the name of anyone you are in contact with. If you don’t hear back from any OPM representatives, document that. Only after submitting multiple status update requests should you notify OPM that you are treating their silence as a denial. After you notify them, wait at least a month for a response before filing an official appeal. You may hear back in the intervening time that your application is nearly processed...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Workplace Discrimination

Reverse Discrimination in the Workplace—What You Should Know

We all know that discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable, and we all know that no federal employee should have to put up with it. However, not everyone knows that all kinds of discrimination are illegal. When most people imagine a discriminatory situation, they imagine racial minorities as the victims of racial “majorities.” They may be more accepting of discrimination when it operates in “reverse.” However, so-called reverse race discrimination is equally wrong and just as illegal as “regular” discrimination.  At this point, you might be asking yourself, What is reverse discrimination? In this article, we will discuss reverse discrimination definition and the situations which best describe reverse discrimination in the workplace.  If you think that you are the victim of reverse race discrimination, contact a workplace discrimination lawyer right away.  What Is Reverse Discrimination? The definition of reverse race discrimination can be difficult to describe, and the term itself is controversial in some circles. The simplest definition is this—reverse discrimination in the workplace occurs when a majority group is discriminated against by a minority group. Reverse race discrimination, for example, occurs in situations where historic racial minorities (like blacks or Hispanics) discriminate against white Americans based on their skin color.  The fact that the target of discrimination belongs to a majority group does not exclude them from the protection of workplace discrimination laws. Discrimination is discrimination. It does not matter whether the victim is white, black, Christian, Muslim, handicapped, or able-bodied. Workplace discrimination lawyers know that discrimination laws apply to all groups, and can help any victim of any form of discrimination.  Which of the Following Is an Example of Reverse Discrimination? Let’s consider a few examples of discrimination to understand which of the following situations constitute reverse discrimination: Which of the following is an example of reverse discrimination in America? If you guessed the first two scenarios, you’d be correct. The first scenario was reverse race discrimination because a black man, a member of a racial minority, was discriminating against a white man based on race. Similarly, the second scenario also constituted reverse discrimination. Sex-based discrimination has historically targeted women, so reverse discrimination occurred because a woman was making condescending sex-based comments to a man. However, the third scenario was not reverse discrimination because Christianity is a majority religion in the United States. So while the Christian in that scenario was harassing and potentially discriminating against their Hindu coworker, that would constitute normal discrimination of a minority.  What Should I Do If I Am the Victim of Reverse Discrimination? Discrimination is discrimination no matter what the victim’s race, gender, or religion is. If you are experiencing reverse discrimination, consider taking the following actions: After you have taken these first steps, you need to consider hiring an attorney who handles cases of discrimination at work. Hiring an attorney for employment discrimination can help to resolve the reverse discrimination problem quickly. Furthermore, employment discrimination attorneys are familiar with all kinds of discrimination and can evaluate your case to see if you are eligible to obtain compensation. Finally, if you file a complaint against your agency, a federal employment workplace discrimination lawyer can help your case by collecting evidence, obtaining witnesses, and conducting settlement negotiations. Do You Need a Workplace Discrimination Attorney? Employment discrimination is always wrong, whether it is reverse discrimination or not. Now that you know reverse discrimination’s definition, you will know when to contact an employment discrimination attorney.  If you are currently experiencing such discrimination, you need an employment discrimination attorney right away. However, not all attorneys are of the same quality. Therefore, it is critical that you hire an attorney that has experience with your kind of case and is familiar with the unique features of the federal workplace.  Contact Our Federal Employment Attorney To Discuss Your Case Today Here at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC, we are dedicated to helping federal employees stand up for their rights. Over the years, our firm has helped countless federal employees with all kinds of discrimination complaints. Unlike other law firms, we are familiar with all of the dynamics of the federal workplace. We will help you stand up for your rights and hold discriminatory actors accountable. Even if you don’t know whether you need an attorney, you have nothing to lose by setting up an appointment. Contact us right away.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Federal Retirement

Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) for Federal Employees

The vast majority of federal employees look forward to enjoying the federal government’s generous retirement package. Yet there is no well-defined minimum retirement age for federal employees because there are several different kinds of early retirement. Thus, the minimum retirement age for federal employees hinges on the type of retirement. These forms of retirement depend, in turn, on things like the employee’s health status and years of federal service. The upside of this arrangement is that federal employees have significant flexibility when considering retirement options. However, there are downsides that you should consider as well.  We’ll unpack the various minimum retirement ages for federal employees in this article. We’ll also delve into what you can do to help minimize any negative consequences of early retirement. However, if you have more specific questions or want legal advice for your personal situation, give our firm a call today. What Is the Minimum Retirement Age for Federal Employees? The general minimum retirement age depends on which kind of federal retirement system you are serving under.  Minimum Retirement Age in the Civil Service Retirement System  If you are an older employee who joined the federal service before 1987, you may be under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Employees under CSRS can technically retire at any time. However, the earliest you can retire under CSRS without reducing your retirement benefits is 55. This low age is achievable only if you have 30 years of service. CSRS employees with more than 20 years of service of a minimum retirement age of 60. CSRS employees with fewer years of service have a minimum retirement age of 62. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. We’ll explore those in a moment. Calculating Minimum Retirement Age Under the Federal Employee Retirement System If you began your federal career in or after 1987, you are under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). Calculating the retirement age depends on your year of birth. If you were born before 1948, then you can retire at 55. If you were born in 1970 or later, you can enjoy minimum retirement at 57. And if you were born between 1948 and 1970, your minimum retirement age will be between 55 and 2 months and 56 and 10 months. However, there’s an additional fact that bears mentioning. Under FERS, you may not receive your complete retirement annuity even after you reach your minimum retirement age. For instance, if you have fewer than 30 years of federal service when you reach your retirement age, the government will reduce your retirement benefits by 5% for every year that you are under 62. That means if you retire at age 60 with 28 years of federal, you will receive only 90% of your retirement annuity from the government. Similarly, if you retire at age 55, you can expect to receive just 65% of your retirement benefits.  Exploring Alternative Retirement Plans Under both FERS and CSRS, employees can use several pathways to retire before the minimum retirement age. Specifically, federal employees can retire early through one of three situations: If you want to learn more about these options, it’s best to contact a federal employment attorney. Is There a Mandatory Retirement Age for Federal Employees? Generally, no. Mandatory retirement ages exist only for federal law enforcement officers and firefighters. Regardless of whether they are under FERS or CSRS, both law enforcement officers and firefighters have to retire at age 57, assuming they have 20 years of service. That said, an agency head can choose to allow a law enforcement officer to serve until 60 if the agency head finds that the employee’s service benefits the public interest.  Do You Have More Questions About Pursuing Early Retirement? Give Us a Call Today. It can be overwhelming to figure out your best options for retirement. And your agency’s human resources department may not have the answers you need. If you want accurate legal answers rather than vague responses and bureaucratic red tape, contact an experienced federal employment attorney. With the right legal counsel, you can get a clear picture of your retirement options and prepare your next steps. Our team at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing is 100% committed to serving federal employees and making their lives easier. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our clients to reach their retirement goals and enjoy life after the federal government.  We recognize many people think you need large amounts of cash on hand to even speak to an attorney. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We care about you and your story, set up your consultation today by calling us at 1-866-612-5956. You can also contact us online. 

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Federal EEOC

How to Prove Discrimination in an EEOC Case

Proving discrimination as a federal employee isn’t always a straightforward process. In fact, knowing how to prove discrimination in an EEOC case involves several steps. First, you need to know what kind of discrimination you’re facing. Second, you need to prove a prima facie case. Third, you need to show that the agency’s supposedly legitimate reasons for its actions are actually a cover-up for discrimination.  Read on to learn more about what each one of these steps involves. We’ll also touch on related issues that commonly arise in an EEOC case. For more information or a consultation, consult a dedicated federal employment attorney today. What Is Discrimination? As a federal employee, you enjoy extensive protections from discrimination in the workplace. These protections extend not only to the job application process but also to every aspect of your employment, including: Discrimination covers an unbelievably large number of different situations. Discrimination occurs when a female employee is passed over for a promotion in favor of a less qualified male employee. It also occurs when an older worker is terminated and replaced by a younger employee with less experience. It can even include retaliation for prior EEO complaints or other protected activity. So that means the employee who faces social exclusion and a change in job duties is a victim of discrimination as well.  What Kinds of Discrimination Are There? As you can learn from the EEOC’s own website, there are many different kinds of illegal discrimination. These include discrimination against you based on your: Before you file a lawsuit, you need to think carefully about what kind of discrimination may be present in your case. Frequently, this fact is obvious. Sometimes, it may be much more difficult to assert because multiple kinds of discrimination are ongoing. What Kinds of Evidence Can I Use to Prove Discrimination? For obvious reasons, it’s vital that you understand how evidence is assessed in EEOC cases. Generally, there are three types of evidence that can be used to prove discrimination. Direct Evidence The most persuasive kind of evidence is direct evidence. Direct evidence in discrimination cases can include statements or documents from employers that directly link the adverse employment action to an individual’s disability. Another example of direct evidence would be a recording of a hiring official using discriminatory language. Comparative Evidence Another type of evidence is comparative evidence. This form of evidence involves looking at similarly situated employees in your workplace and seeing how your employer treats them. With the help of an attorney, you can assess whether coworkers with different characteristics receive different treatment from your employer in terms of job assignments, overtime shifts, and other factors. Circumstantial Evidence Yet another kind of valuable evidence is circumstantial evidence, which is indirect evidence an EEOC judge can use to infer a legal fact. Circumstantial evidence in discrimination cases can include things like patterns of adverse employment actions against individuals with disabilities. Other examples include past discriminatory comments by managers or coworkers, as well as statistical evidence that shows a disparity between employees of different races, sexes, or religions. Although circumstantial evidence is not as persuasive as direct evidence, it can still be used to support your case.  How to Prove Discrimination in the Workplace Unless you have direct evidence of discrimination, you have to follow a three-step legal framework to prove discrimination. This framework was first established in the Supreme Court case, McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green. Consequently, many attorneys call this framework the “McDonnell Douglas framework.” It involves three steps. First, you need to prove a prima facie case of discrimination. This means that you must show that you belong to a protected class. In addition, you have to show you suffered an adverse employment action and that the adverse action occurred under circumstances that give rise to an inference of discrimination. Next, your employer has to provide a legitimate or nondiscriminatory reason for its action. Assuming your employer can provide a reason, you must demonstrate that your employer’s supposedly “nondiscriminatory” reason is actually a pretext for discrimination. In other words, you need to show that your employer’s asserted reason for acting is not believable and is a pretense. What Are the Chances of Winning an EEOC Case? It’s hard to estimate the chances of winning an EEOC case because no two cases are alike. The outcome of each case depends on various factors, including the strength of the evidence, the credibility of the witnesses, and whether you have legal representation. Another critical factor is whether your employer is willing to settle the case. If there is a willingness to negotiate a settlement, you may not need to go to court to resolve your case.  Contact the Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing to Get the Representation You Deserve   Now that you know more about the EEOC, discrimination, and the legal process, you need to find quality legal counsel. As experienced federal employment law attorneys, we’ve seen all kinds of ugly discrimination. We know the common tricks employers use to try to cover up their discriminatory acts. And we know how to collect the vital evidence you need to prevail in an EEOC case. Thanks to our experience and track record of success, we have enjoyed countless victories for our clients. Contact us today to get the answers you need and the representation you deserve. Get started by calling us or reaching out to us online.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Federal Retirement

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) vs. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)

One of the greatest benefits of government work is generous retirement. The federal service includes two systems, the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System. Because of the complexity of both systems, employees often have questions about the provisions of each one. We also commonly get asked, CSRS vs. FERS: Which is better? So to help address questions about these programs, we’ll cover the essential characteristics of both systems.  What’s the Relationship Between CSRS and FERS? Congress established the Civil Service Retirement System in 1920 with the passage of the Federal Employees’ Retirement Act. At the time, the government was looking for ways to attract and retain skilled workers, and retirement benefits were seen as an important part of that effort. Originally, federal employees had to contribute to their own retirement accounts, but the government also contributed to those accounts. On top of that, all CSRS retirement benefits used a unique formula that took into account an employee’s length of service and highest average salary. Over the years, the CSRS underwent a number of changes, including the addition of survivor benefits and disability benefits. However, by the 1980s, the system was facing a number of financial challenges. Many of the retirement benefits promised under the system had become unsustainable, and there were concerns about the long-term viability of the program. In response to these challenges, Congress passed the Federal Employees Retirement System Act of 1986, which established the FERS. Congress intended FERS to be more cost-effective and sustainable over the long term. FERS did not go into effect immediately. Instead, it only began to come into effect after 1984. Between the years of 1984 and 1987, employees could choose which retirement plan to join. All federal employees entering federal service after 1986 had to use FERS. Despite the creation of the FERS system, the CSRS continues to be a significant part of the federal retirement landscape. Many federal employees who were hired before 1984 still receive coverage under CSRS, so the system remains an important source of retirement benefits for millions of Americans. How Do the Federal CSRS vs. FERS Compare in Retirement Benefits? Under CSRS, retirement pay is based on a federal employee’s highest three consecutive years of salary, known as the “high-three” average salary. The retirement annuity is calculated by multiplying the high-three average by a percentage factor, which changes depending on the employee’s length of service. The percentage factor is 1.5% for the first five years of service, 1.75% for the next five years, and 2.0% for each year of service after 10 years. Under FERS, retirement pay is composed of three parts: a basic benefit, a Social Security benefit, and a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) benefit. The basic benefit implements a similar formula to the CSRS’s “high-three” system. However, the percentage factor is lower, usually around 1%. The Social Security benefit is based on the employee’s earnings history and the age at which they begin receiving benefits. Finally, there is the TSP, which functions like a 401k or another investment plan. Both the employee and the government contribute to the TSP over time. Meanwhile, the employee can invest their TSP funds in one of several investment opportunities. When the employee retires, they can enjoy those contributions and any returns on those investments.  CSRS vs. FERS: Additional Differences and Similarities In several ways, the CSRS was a more generous retirement system than FERS. For instance, under CSRS, all retirees received cost-of-living adjustments, even if they retired young. FERS retirees usually receive a cost-of-living adjustment only if they retire at 62 or later.   However, there are some similarities. Both CSRS and FERS offer benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and survivor benefits. However, FERS benefits are often less generous than CSRS retirement benefits. For instance, CSRS allows all retirees to receive the same retirement annuity as long as they retire at 55 or later. On the other hand, FERS reduces your retirement annuity for anyone retiring below the age of 62. Disability retirement under CSRS is 40% of the employee’s “high-three” salary. Under FERS, the disability retirement is 1.0% or 1.1% of your high-three salary for each year of federal service you have. Thus, an employee would receive less in disability retirement benefits under FERS unless they have over 40 years of federal service.  Still Curious About CSRS vs. FERS? We Can Help You with Any Federal Employment Need While you might have a general idea of federal employment retirement plans based on this article, it’s understandable if you have additional questions. To get accurate answers, it’s best to seek out a knowledgeable employment lawyer sooner rather than later. An adept federal employment attorney can explain which retirement system you are under and how that affects your financial future. If your agency has made some kind of mistake, an attorney can intervene on your behalf and help you file a claim. However, it’s crucial to find the right attorney to ensure the best chances of success. For experienced and reliable legal representation, look no further than the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC. Our team of legal professionals is experienced in all types of federal employment matters, including FERS and CSRS issues. We are committed to safeguarding your rights as a federal employee and ensuring you are rightfully compensated for your federal service. To schedule an initial consultation, call us today at 866-612-5956. You can also schedule an appointment with us online and read about our previous successes.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Federal Employment Law

Filing Workers’ Comp for Stress and Anxiety—What Federal Employees Should Know

Most federal workers are familiar with the workers’ compensation program, operated by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). The OWCP allows for workers who suffer a work-related injury to obtain medical and income-replacement benefits while they are unable to work. What fewer people know, however, is that federal employees can also obtain workers’ compensation for mental health disorders as well. Read on to learn more about when you can get workers’ comp for stress and anxiety. If your federal employment is responsible for causing or exacerbating a mental health condition, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. At the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, we proudly help government employees who were injured on the job obtain the benefits they need and deserve. With extensive experience handling a wide range of workers’ compensation cases, including many involving mental health diagnoses, the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing is well-equipped to effectively handle your claim. Stress and Anxiety in the Workplace Stress Stress is the body’s normal response to emotional or physical tension. In some cases, stress can help you overcome obstacles that you may not have otherwise been able to overcome. However, in larger amounts, stress can be detrimental to a person’s physical and mental well-being. According to a recent survey done by the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers experience high levels of stress in the workplace. And roughly a quarter of all participants indicated that their job was the primary source of their stress. Of course, this may not come as news, as every job can occasionally be stressful. However, there is a point where the everyday stress of a job crosses the line and becomes something more damaging. Anxiety Generalized anxiety disorder is a mental health condition in which someone displays excessive anxiety or worry on most days, for a period of at least six months. Generalized anxiety disorder often seriously interferes with someone’s ability to live their life the way they intended. For example, common symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder include the following. Panic attacks are another form of anxiety disorder in which someone experiences unexpected periods of intense fear that come on quickly and reach their peak within minutes. Symptoms of a panic attack include: Panic attacks can be very scary and sometimes require immediate medical attention.  Can You Get Workers’ Compensation for Stress and Anxiety? Yes, federal workers can obtain workers’ compensation benefits for stress and stress-related conditions such as anxiety. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering filing an application for workers’ comp for stress and anxiety. If you have a diagnosis of anxiety, you will have an easier time obtaining benefits than if you are basing a workers’ compensation claim on stress alone. However, you will still need to show that your anxiety was either caused by your job or that your job exacerbated your existing case of anxiety. Applying for workers’ compensation benefits for stress is even trickier because there is often no diagnosis. When it comes to getting workers’ compensation for stress, consider the following questions. 1. Is The Stress Severe? Regular, everyday stress is not the type of stress that the OWCP is concerned with. Stress is a normal part of almost every job, yet not everyone can rightfully file a workers’ comp stress claim. Thus, to be eligible, you must show that your occupational stress is severe, to the point where it is more than you can withstand. 2. Is Your Job Objectively Stressful? If you find your job to be very stressful, but your colleagues do not, you may have a harder time qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits. This is because you must show that your stress is objective to obtain benefits. This means that others in a similar situation experience the same level of stress. So, if you are particularly susceptible to the stressors of your workplace, you may have a harder time obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for stress. 3. Is Your Stress Job-Related? To succeed in any workers’ comp stress claim, you must show that your injuries (physical or emotional) are related to your occupation. Stress is no exception. In fact, it is actually more difficult to prove stress is job-related because most people have other sources of stress in their life. For example, the OWCP may claim that your stress was caused by genetic factors or issues outside the workplace. Are You Suffering Severe Stress or Anxiety Related to Your Federal Employment? We Can Help You If you are a federal employee and are currently suffering from stress or anxiety, contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing for immediate assistance. At our federal workers’ compensation law firm, we represent federal employees in all types of work injury claims—including those involving mental health conditions such as stress and anxiety. Unlike many other local employment law firms, we represent only federal employees, giving us an unparalleled knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern our clients’ cases. To learn more, and to schedule a consultation, give us a call today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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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? You may be wondering, 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 constructive discharge examples of working conditions that may be grounds for a constructive discharge claim: While it’s easy to define constructive discharge, proving it can be more difficult.  How To Prove Constructive Discharge Quitting your job because of unfair treatment is not enough to bring a constructive discharge claim.  This is how to prove constructive discharge: 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 Our Federal Employment Attorneys at 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 your consultation by calling 866-690-8076 or filling out our contact form online.

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