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Federal Employment and Labor Law Blog

What should federal employees know about telework?

Government telework policies have changed a lot in recent months. And many federal employees are likely confused.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has recently advised agencies to make telework as widely available as possible. But the OPM has also reminded employees that it doesn’t have authority over those agencies’ policies. The result is that different agencies have offered different levels of support or resistance. You wouldn’t be alone if you wondered whether there are any clear, overarching standards.

Is the American workplace sheltering a hidden crisis?

It’s natural and understandable for the news to cover major crises, and many of them deeply affect our lives and our workplaces. However, once those crises abate and you go back to your normal routine, will you find yourself secretly immersed in yet another crisis?

As suggested by a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, an HR thinktank, toxic workplace cultures present a looming crisis. They squander hundreds of billions of dollars and harm millions of workers. And as an employee of the federal government, the nation’s largest employer, you may recognize many of the problems the survey highlights.

Does the law protect transgender employees from discrimination?

Here’s a fact: if you are a federal employee, then you have protection against discrimination based on sex. Here’s another fact: more and more people question exactly what “sex” means.

This isn’t a new argument. It broadly pits those who believe sex is a biological designation against those who believe sex is a social construct. Now, the Supreme Court must consider these arguments as it weighs three cases about sexual discrimination directed toward members of the LGBTQ community.

Do federal employees have a duty to report wrongdoings?

The federal government is a massive, multi-trillion-dollar machine. It impacts nearly every aspect of life within the United State—and even across the globe. But at the ground level, it’s made up of people.

People like you are responsible for managing, overseeing and implementing all the policies the government funds. And the good work you do helps to ensure tax dollars serve their purpose. So, when you see others taking actions that put lives at risk or threaten to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars, do you have an obligation to report those wrongdoings?

When a harassment complaint leads to retaliation

The law says that businesses and agencies are supposed to provide safe workplaces. They are supposed to shield you from harassment and discrimination. If you file a complaint about such behavior, an agency is supposed to investigate that complaint in good faith. But things don’t always go the way they should.

One Navy veteran found this out the hard way after her complaint of sexual harassment allegedly prompted a top-level Veteran Affairs official to smear her name.

Can the government purge disloyal employees?

If you work long enough in the federal government, you’re going to work under an administration with which you disagree. That’s to be expected. The nation’s moods often swing back and forth, and our elections give the nation a lever for change.

What you shouldn’t expect, though, is for an administration to remove career employees simply because they do not share the prevailing political views. Yet, recent reports suggest the current administration may be taking such actions, purging employees it brands “disloyal.”

Why it’s more important than ever to think before signing a PIP

Anyone who’s worked as a federal employee for any length of time knows how important it is to receive a good performance evaluation. Your evaluation drives your pay increases and your chances of landing a promotion or an exciting new role.

Soon, your performance evaluation may matter even more. If the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) gets its way, you’ll have to wait longer to get a pay raise, and you won’t be able to climb to the top pay grades in your position without a “fully successful” review.

What happens when you appeal a disciplinary action?

As a federal employee, you have the right to challenge unfair disciplinary actions. This is important because agencies don’t always follow the law. They may sometimes act in ways that are arbitrary, biased or politically motivated. But challenging these bad decisions is rarely easy.

In fact, recent trends have shown that fewer employees are winning their challenges. At the same time, Government Executive has reported a significant decrease in settlements. These are discouraging trends, but they shouldn’t prompt you to give up. Instead, they should remind you how important it is for you to take the process seriously.

Sexual orientation no longer protected by the Dept. of Interior?

As an American, you expect the government and courts to uphold your civil rights. As a federal employee, you may be subjected to the quiet erosion of those rights. Especially if you’re a member of the LGBTQ community.

The latest erosion to make the news was the removal of “sexual orientation” as a protected class from the Interior Department’s anti-discrimination guidelines. The deletion was first reported by the Huffington Post, and it has some LGBTQ advocates deeply concerned.

Myth versus fact: OPM disability retirement

When you applied for your federal job, you may or may not have known it, but you signed up for a career full of paperwork and bureaucracy. Sure, there are plenty of good things about federal employment, such as the chance to serve your nation and make a difference. But the paperwork can be downright ugly at times.

This is particularly true if your injury or illness ever makes it impossible to perform your job’s listed duties. According to the OPM, you may be eligible for disability retirement. But you won’t receive it until you find your way through the maze of applications, forms and supporting documents. If you’re not careful, you might not receive it at all. Many people lose out on their benefits because they fail to separate the retirement myths from reality.

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