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Federal Employment and Labor Law Blog

Is the State Department purging employees for political reasons?

"I think a cleaning is in order here," former Dick Cheney advisor David Wurmser allegedly wrote in a recent email chain. The chain, which was apparently between current White House and State Department political appointees and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, included messages from Wurmser.

"I hear Tillerson actually has been reasonably good on stuff like this and cleaning house, but there are so many that it boggles the mind," Wurmser added.

8 years in, women submariners' retention rate about equal to men

When the Navy began integrating submarines eight years ago, there was push-back. Some submariners, veterans and submariners' wives thought the living quarters were just too tight and that lack of privacy and the potential for romantic entanglements would be disruptive.

Today, with a fifth of submarine crews integrated by gender, it appears those concerns were overblown. There was a major incident in 2015, when a group of male submariners were court-martialed for secretly taping women on the USS Wyoming as they were undressing.

Navy, Marine Corps vets with mental illnesses sue over discharges

"It is a national disgrace," says the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the Navy. The lawsuit accuses the service of giving less-than-honorable discharges to Navy and Marine Corps veterans due to minor infractions engendered by service-related disabilities. The plaintiffs have traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and other mental illnesses brought on by service trauma. The less-than-honorable discharges strip them of the very VA benefits they need to recover from those conditions.

The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of thousands of Navy and Marine Corps vets by the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Last year, the group filed a similar suit against the Army.

Fish and Wildlife official accused of benefiting family member

The chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of International Conservation has been accused of violating conflict of interest rules by participating in a cooperative agreement that financially benefited a member of his family. He was also allegedly a decision maker in two other grants involving the family member.

According to Federal Times, the first allegation is detailed in a Department of Interior Inspector General report, but details were not yet available regarding the others. The first case involved an August 2014 award of $126,871 to create a training program for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The family member was listed as an instructor in the IFAW application. She received $5,684.29.

Both the MSPB and EEOC handle discrimination complaints

If you're a federal employee, you may have heard that both the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission take on discrimination complaints involving federal employment. In some cases, the proper agency is clear. In others, you can file your complaint with either agency -- but not both. Which one should you choose?

We strongly recommend having your specific situation evaluated by a federal employment law attorney. The decision between filing with the MSPB or the EEOC is complex and has a lot of long-term repercussions. For example, when you commit to one agency or another for your complaint, you are committing for the entire resolution process, including appeals.

Internal Investigations Of Federal Employees


Learning that you are the target of an employee investigation is an unsettling thing to go through.

Unfortunately, some federal employees are being unfairly scrutinized for alleged misconduct and subjected to investigations.

Pentagon: Misconduct complaints up but fewer are substantiated

During a recent House Armed Services subcommittee meeting, Defense Department investigators told lawmakers that complaints against senior military and defense officials have been increasing over the past several years. That said, more of these cases are being turned away as unsubstantiated and fewer officers have been found guilty of misconduct.

The misconduct allegations range from ethics complaints to violations of travel rules, accepting inappropriate gifts and using subordinates to perform personal business.

Trump seeks to make it easier to fire 'bad' federal employees

In his State of the Union address, President Trump urged lawmakers to make it easier to "remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people." As an example, he referred to the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act that he signed into law in June of last year.

As we mentioned at the time, that Act reduced the time employees have to respond to discipline, demotion or removal from service actions. It also lowered the standard of evidence required for discipline from a "preponderance of evidence" to "substantial evidence."

GAO puts security clearance process on its High Risk List

"Currently, executive branch agencies are unable to investigate and process personnel security clearances in a timely manner," says the Government Accountability Office, which has added the federal security clearance process to its High Risk List. The list was created by the nonpartisan watchdog agency in 1990 in an effort to emphasize areas in serious need of reform or improvement to avoid waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.

The High Risk List is usually updated every two years, and the next review is scheduled for publish in early 2019, according to NPR. The GAO's comptroller general, however, decided the problem needed to be addressed now -- and the warning applies throughout the government, not just to specific agencies.

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