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Federal Employment and Labor Law Blog

Is it the end of civil service due process, as we know it?

Attorneys with deep experience dealing with the complicated systems of federal employment know that it's no bed of roses. Government workers in Texas or any other state face a veritable quagmire of procedural steps when management initiates action based on allegations of misconduct or underperformance.

The decades-old civil service system is supposed to make sure employees facing disciplinary action enjoy due process. It protects them against the whims of an ever-changing cast of characters on the political stage. It may be a challenge to navigate, but most would agree the protection afforded is worth it.

OPM disability benefits for federal employees

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  • Are you a federal employee who is suffering from a disability?
  • Is your disability preventing you from doing your job?

If you answered "yes" to both of these questions, then you may be eligible for disability benefits under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

Obtaining benefits is not always an easy process, and legitimate claims are sometimes denied. But when approved, benefits can provide much-needed support to people who are dealing with a variety of disabilities.

Don't let scare tactics prevent you from protecting your rights

Being mistreated on the job or living in fear that you will get fired out of retaliation for exercising your rights can be incredibly stressful. In addition to the emotional devastation of being harassed or discriminated against, you can also be dealing with the anxiety of being out of a job and unable to care for yourself and your family.

Unfortunately, there are employers all across the country who permit -- and even encourage -- these workplace environments that are based on fear and intimidation to exist. Doing so helps them avoid taking responsibility for various rights violations.

Congressional staff are overwhelmingly white. Is change possible?

According to the Washington Post, years of private studies have demonstrated that, while Congress itself is becoming more diverse in response to citizen activism, their staff is not. Workers in congressional offices, from chiefs of staff and top advisors to aides, pages and administrative personnel, continue to be overwhelmingly white.

How big the problem may be is, unfortunately, unclear. Congressional offices don't have to report the demographics of their staff to the public. Thanks to the work of groups including the Congressional Black Associates and the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association, we have some information on the degree of the disparities. In 2010, for example the CHSA found only 35 out of 498 total congressional staffers were Latino, and nobody thinks the situation has improved since then.

Revived Congressional rule sends chill through federal ranks

Some supporters call it a minor adjustment that simply restores constitutional powers of the purse Congress. Other supporters say it could prove to be a positive step toward curbing rising federal bureaucracy. Opponents warn it threatens efforts to protect the rights of federal workers against the political whims of elected officials.

What we are talking about is the revival of the Holman Rule. You may never have heard of it. First instituted 140 years ago, the tool allows any member of Congress to propose legislative action to target a particular federal agency, or even a specific federal worker, with funding cuts.

In whistleblower law, standards of evidence make a difference

When a person is charged with a crime, the state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. That is, the evidence has to be so clear and convincing that a jury or a judge can feel confident the defendant is guilty. The standard is not quite so high in civil cases. Then, all that's required is or a plaintiff to offer a preponderance of evidence. Having 51 percent of the evidence on your side can win the case.

Such differences in the standards of evidence also have implications in other areas. Attorneys experienced in representing federal workers in job disputes are well aware of this, even if the reality of it sometimes needs reinforcing by the courts. One recent case seems to provide a case in point.

Can I refuse a limited duty work offer after a job injury?

Workers' compensation benefits are a right to which everyone is entitled. Federal workers are no exception, even if the vehicles for delivering those benefits vary from what are available for private sector employees.

Under the federal system, the Office of Workers Compensation Programs oversees things, and the same rules apply across the country. So, whether you work in Texas, Georgia or some other state, if you have been hurt on the job, you are entitled to certain benefits. You also face the same potential hurdles in obtaining them. Knowing the full scope of your rights is crucial.

Age discrimination in the federal workplace

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In the ideal workplace, employees would be valued for their knowledge, skills, work ethic, and attitude.

Unfortunately, some employers value their employees on things the employee has no control over. Or employers treat certain employees unfairly because of personal traits they cannot change.

It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of age, race, religion, pregnancy, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other legally protected traits.

Let's take a look at one of those protected traits: Age.

Do some federal workers have reason to fear the president-elect?

Change is something federal workers face all the time. Every four years –perhaps every eight – a new president takes office. Come this January, not only is the White House changing out of the Democratic hands, it is shifting to the hands of a Republican noted for being inscrutable.

Change can be unsettling for anyone, but a change of administration of government can be particularly unnerving. While there is a lot of uncertainty, there is one thing that federal workers can be sure of. The law that established the civil service system is still the law. Also, federal workers, regardless of where they happen to serve, have the right to protect themselves if they suffer negative job actions.

If anti-discrimination process doesn't work, might protest work?

She may be a lone voice, but she is not alone in her claims of sexual harassment and discrimination at the hands of former male supervisors at the Transportation Security Administration. The question a woman now faces in staking a claim to a federal job she says she has a right to is what legal lengths to take to achieve her mission.

She lacks no experience in that latter area. Before she landed her job at TSA headquarters in suburban Washington, D.C., she did tours of duty with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and Iraq. You can be sure that those credentials qualify her to recognize sexual harassment when it happens and to respond to it according to standing government rules.

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