5 Specific Rights of Government Employees
All employees have certain rights and protections which are guaranteed in the workplace, no matter the nature of their job. These include things like the right to not be discriminated against based on race, gender, religion, and a variety of other protected classes. Government employees, however, also enjoy additional rights and benefits on top of those found in the private sector. Whether you are an employee of the government, or you oversee government employees, it is essential that you are aware of and fully understand these rights.
If an employee of the government is going to be disciplined for any type of poor performance, misbehavior, or virtually anything else, they have the right to due process, and a full hearing. This gives employees the opportunity to defend themselves against the disciplinary action that their manager or other people in authority over them are filing. Private sector employees rarely have this type of opportunity.
Permanent Employment Status
Many government employees will enjoy what is generally called ‘permanent employment status’ after they have been in their job for a set amount of time (typically six months to a year). Once they get to this point, the government can’t terminate their job without due process (see above) or severe issues such as a loss of funding from Congress. In the private sector, most employees are ‘at-will’ employees, meaning they can be terminated at any time, for any (or no) reason.
Pensions & Other Retirement Rights
Government jobs are some of the few that still provide traditional pension plans to their employees. While pensions were once a very popular benefit for employees, the private sector has all but eliminated them because they are so difficult to sustain given how long people are living after retirement. Those in many government jobs, however, will still be able to earn the right to a pension if they remain in their job for a long enough period of time.
Protection from Political Pressure
With the exception of some high-level positions, government employees are protected from many types of discrimination based on political pressure. This is important because so many people work for elected officials (either directly or indirectly) and it can cause issues if employees were let go each time the party in control of a specific agency changed. Specifically, civil service jobs like teachers, police officers, and others can’t be influenced based on political conflicts.
If a government employee discovers that their agency, or anyone in it, is breaking state or federal law, they have the right to report it without putting their employment at risk. Whistleblower laws can provide protection to employees reporting fraud, conflicts of interest, and many other types of issues that shouldn’t be taking place.
Government employees have a variety of important legal protections that they need to be aware of. If you have any questions about these protections, or you believe your employment rights have been violated, please contact The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford to discuss the unique circumstances of your case so that we can develop a plan of action.