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Federal Employment and Labor Law Blog

Where do I pursue an appeal of a negative job action?

If you are a civil servant working for the federal government or employee of a company doing government contract work, you enjoy a high level of due process protection against arbitrary punitive action. However, there can be a potential downside in the safety net. The matrix of laws that cover various issues can create so many avenues of possible action that it can boggle the mind.

The area of whistleblower protection is one example. On one hand, the federal Whistleblower Protection Act encourages employees to report when they believe something is wrong in terms of program management or spending. On the other hand, retaliation from higher ups can follow. There are myriad forms that retaliation can take and myriad laws to leverage in response. The retaliation suffered influences whether and how to mount a challenge.

When a Work-Related Injury Leads To Discrimination

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Suffering an injury at work can be a difficult thing to go through.

Besides pain, there are many issues you may be forced to deal with: Going to multiple medical appointments; Getting time off from work to go to medical appointments; Trying to do your job despite physical pain or limitations; Making modifications to your work station; Seeking assistance with your workers' compensation claim.

Protecting rights through the RIF rhetoric

The language from the Office of Management and Budget about the future of the federal work force seems to be in keeping with that old song that goes, "Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative."

A read of the memo issued last week by OMB director Mick Mulvaney about the direction the White House wants to take regarding government operations frames the effort in terms that glow. It talks about how the proposed 2018 fiscal year budget fills critical gaps in defense, border security and public safety, spending money "only on worthwhile policies, and in the most efficient, effective manner." And for FY 2019, it says to expect more of the same.

Work injury accommodation best done with your input

Some federal jobs are more dangerous than others. All of them carry risks. When workplace injuries do occur, the first priority is getting necessary care and obtaining the benefits that are due under applicable workers’ compensation law. Clearing that hurdle isn’t something an injured worker should have to attempt alone. Support of an experienced attorney can help.

Presuming the benefits challenge is met, the next step, hopefully, is getting the employee back to work — even if it’s in some restricted capacity. Obviously, this requires management to make some determinations about what accommodations are feasible. But as one recent legal case shows, it’s not a decision the boss can make unilaterally. The injured worker deserves to have a say on what happens, as well.

New VA accountability law raises concerns over employee rights

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Several weeks ago, we posted about how laws shielding federal workers from retaliation undergo seemingly constant tweaks to close apparent loopholes. This is a positive thing insofar as it contributes to protecting rights of government employees around the country when they face adverse job action.

Not all law changes prompt cheers, however. For example, last week the president signed into law the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. The measure offers additional security against retaliatory practices for whistleblowers in the VA on the one hand. On the other, it also reduces the window of opportunity for making job action appeals to the Merit System Protection Board.

What are key steps of an MSPB appeal?

The personnel rules that apply to federal government workers and workers for federal contractors amount to what many might consider a bureaucracy within a bureaucracy. As we noted in a post back in September, it can be confusing to know what constitutes an adverse job action. And even when you are sure you've suffered an unfair or illegal practice, it can be difficult to know your legal options without consulting an attorney.

As that previous post noted, workers facing demotion, suspension or being fired have rights. These include receiving notice if you are being investigated and about any possible action before it's finalized. You also have a right to make a case to challenge the action through an appeal to the Merit System Protection Board.

Blowing The Whistle Is The Right (But Not Easy) Thing To Do

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It often takes courage to do the right thing. This is true in all areas of life, including the workplace.

Reporting the unlawful or unethical acts of an employer can be especially difficult. The employer may subject the employee to acts of retaliation such as harassment, demotion or job loss.

Under Trump budget, who knows what the future holds?

Even with Republicans in full control of Congress there's no certainty over what is likely to come out of the budget hopper in the weeks and months ahead. The full budget plan fed into the funnel late last month does not bode well for federal workers. The plan calls for cuts that will leave thousands out of jobs, and that's just in the Washington, D.C., area. What that likely means for many is termination or unanticipated demotion.

The chance that some of those decisions will be made in a way that raise questions about whether discrimination played a factor is something that cannot be overlooked. And workers owe it to themselves to be particular vigilant that rights guaranteed under such laws as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 are not violated.

Uber board agrees to personnel recommendations from outside firm

When employees are concerned that their working conditions may not be legal, they're often wise to discuss those concerns with a third-party lawyer. Someone who is uninvolved but with knowledge of labor and employment law can be very helpful in determining if the concerns are valid and what steps to take next.

Management has the same prerogative, and it's often a good idea for them, too. If employees have brought their concerns forward, management has a duty to perform a reasonable investigation. Just as important, expensive and time-consuming litigation can often be avoided if workers and management can find common ground.

Whistleblower Protection Act tweaked

The key to giving a good presentation we know is to tell your listeners what you will tell them; tell them; and then tell them what you told them. Aristotle is credited with developing that formula two millennia ago, though his phrasing was different. The standard still seems to apply, and some observers might say that it has leaked into other areas, including the passing of laws.

Last month, Congress displayed a level of bipartisanship that is unusual these days and passed the Follow the Rules Act. Many in Texas and across the country are hailing the move, calling it of critical value for the protection of government whistleblowers.

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