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Federal Employment and Labor Law Blog

Official time in the cross hairs: Is it the right target?

In the labor relations model that has developed in the United States, the perception that dominates is that it is adversarial. Workers are on one side leveraging the strength of their numbers to press demands for better wages and conditions. On the other side is business, looking to maintain its wealth.

That doesn't quite fit that way things work where government is concerned. Delivery of public services isn't profit driven. Law mandates action. Laws also protect public servants against abuses that might arise due to a political wind change.

Dog bite prevention week never gets old

It is that time of year again. Winter has passed and the improving weather that follows means more people and their pets are outside taking advantage of the weather. This is probably bigger news for people in the northern tier states than those in the south, but it's something about which the whole country takes note.

In emergency rooms across the country, officials are likely seeing a significant increase in the number of dog bite victims. According to DogsBite.org, some 9,500 people in the U.S. end up hospitalized every year due to animal attacks. In 2016, nearly 6,800 of those victims were postal workers. Many of those cases certainly led to claims for federal workers' compensation, and rightly so.

Fate of federal programs to improve worker safety in question

Regular readers of our blog will recall that we have written about the trials and tribulations of those in the nursing community. In one post not too long ago, we took note of how news reports about the high rate of occupational injury among nurses had prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to launch a nationwide inspection of hospital facilities, including those within the Department of Veterans Affairs

What sparked that probe were claims that hospitals across the country haven't bothered to implement safety protocols and devices for the movement of patients. Indeed, nurse back injuries are among the most common of work injuries submitted for coverage under workers' compensation programs. That's despite available technology and training that could reduce the risk. In addition, there's the threat so many hospital workers face from exposure to unhealthy environments and patient diseases.

Protecting federal workers from political bullying

A doctor knows that to provide a patient the right treatment, it's necessary to have the right diagnosis. The same can be said of addressing legal ailments. Experienced federal employment attorneys dedicated to protecting the due process rights for civil service workers know that the right strategy depends on knowing and understanding the full scope of events behind disciplinary actions pursued by higher ups.

In some cases, especially in an environment where politics is always an issue, proper strategy might entail taking action before grievances even surface. That seems to be the thinking behind complaints filed in federal court recently by a group calling itself the Project Democracy Project. The key question the group seeks to answer is whether some civil servants are the victims of bullying by the Trump administration.

What happens with worker disputes if government shuts down?

It's that time of year again. The prospect of another government shutdown looms as soon as this weekend unless Congress can agree to temporarily extend current spending authority.

The chances of that happening are said by some observers to be somewhat less likely now that the president has signaled that he is willing to drop his demand that the measure include funds for the Mexico border wall he has promised. However, negotiations continue on Capitol Hill. Without resolution, hundreds of thousands of federal workers face temporary layoffs.

What are possible steps to appeal an OWCP final determination?

Claim denied. A worker does not want to see those words after being hurt on the job. Workers' compensation programs in all states are supposed to be there on a no-fault basis – founded on the principle that injuries happen. When they do, a worker should be given the care necessary to achieve the fullest possible recovery.

State programs don't cover the federal government. Federal workers have separate processes to follow to file claims and receive compensation from the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. The one thing that is common to all such programs, however, is denials of legitimate claims. The frustration of having that happen can then be compounded if you choose to exercise your right to appeal.

Federal labor law like dancing on ice floes

A lot can change in a short period of time. As we noted in a post in October, it appeared that employees for federal contractors were headed for some improvements in benefits under orders and rules issued by the Labor Department under President Obama.

By virtue of those actions, companies across the country enjoying the benefits of a federal government contract were on notice that they would be more accountable for complying with labor laws. Failing to pay overtime or provide paid sick leave meant contractors wouldn't see contracts renewed. However, late last month, Congress repealed the orders and President Trump signed the measure into law.

State Department career in the balance after worker charged

The federal government puts a lot of stock in the notion of candor. Failing to be forthcoming when asked questions during an investigation could lead to disciplinary action. As we noted in a post two years back, a charge of "lack of candor" proved to be a career ender for an administrative officer at the Federal Aviation Administration.

The circumstances of that case, in which a worker's substance abuse was a factor, perhaps warranted some leniency. However, that is not how that Merit Systems Protection Board appeal played out.

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