Federal Employment Lawyer
Nationwide Legal Representation for Federal Employees – Call to Speak with a Federal Employment Lawyer 24/7
Our firm represents federal workers in all employment-related matters. Whether you have experienced harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you are facing suspension or termination, we can help you achieve the outcome you deserve. While federal employees have clear legal rights and are entitled to significant due process, protecting yourself can still prove challenging, so it is important to have an experienced federal employment lawyer on your side.
Claims Handled by a Federal Employment Lawyer at Our Firm
How can we help you? Regardless of the circumstances, you are facing, if you work for any agency, department or branch of the federal government, we can use our experience to help make sure you receive all of the benefits and protections to which you are legally entitled. Some examples of matters we handle for federal employees include:
- Defending against whistleblower retaliation
- Determining and enforcing eligibility for job-protected and paid leave
- Fighting adverse employment action at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC)
- Harassment and discrimination claims before the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Obtaining reasonable accommodations for federal employees with disabilities
- Responding to civil and criminal investigations involving the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and other federal law enforcement offices and agencies
- Responding to investigations and notices involving alleged misconduct and performance deficiencies
- Protecting federal workers’ jobs during reductions in force (RIFs)
- Protecting federal workers’ privacy rights and freedoms
If you have any questions about your legal rights as a federal employee, or if you have any concerns about something that has happened (or that you believe is going to happen) at work, we encourage you to get in touch. At the very least, we can help you understand your situation so that you can make informed decisions going forward.
Laws that Protect Federal Workers
There are numerous laws that protect federal government employees in various aspects of their employment. This includes everything from federal employees’ right to equal pay and benefits to federal employees’ right to due process when facing adverse employment action. As a federal employee, you don’t need to know these laws in detail (this simply isn’t feasible), but it is good to know they exist. Simply put, knowing when you have rights allows you to take action to protect them.
We help federal employees at all levels and in all agencies, departments and offices understand and enforce their statutory rights. This includes, but is not limited to, federal employees’ rights under:
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) – Prohibits age-based discrimination against federal employees who are 40 or older.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – Prohibits discrimination against federal employees based on physical or mental disability.
- Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA) – Prohibits federal agencies from basing personnel actions on attributes or conduct that do not affect performance (i.e., marital status or political affiliation).
- Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) – Prohibits sex-based wage discrimination among federal employees who perform substantially equal work.
- Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) – Entitles federal employees to workers’ compensation benefits when they suffer job-related injuries and illnesses.
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Requires federal employers to pay minimum wage and overtime.
- Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Requires federal employers to provide job-protected leave to qualifying workers.
- National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – prohibits discrimination against federal employees based on participation in union activity.
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – Prohibits discrimination against federal employees with qualifying disabilities.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 – Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex or national origin.
- Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) – Prohibits discrimination against federal employees based on military service obligations.
- Veterans Employment Opportunity Act of 1998 (VEOA) – Entitles eligible veterans to be considered for certain competitive service positions.
- Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (WPA) – Protects federal employees against retaliation based on their protected disclosure of information about mismanagement, fraud, waste, abuse, or a danger to public health or safety.
Remedies for Improper Disciplinary Action or Other Adverse Employment Action
If the federal government violates your legal rights, what remedies are available to you? The answer to this question depends on the effect (or effects) of the violation. In federal employment matters, remedies are intended to be compensatory in nature, meaning that they are intended to “make you whole” in light of the losses (both financial and non-financial) you have endured.
With this in mind, the remedies available to federal employees for unlawful discrimination, demotion, suspension, removal and other prohibited acts may include:
- Promotion, change in grade and/or pay raise
- Reinstatement of federal employment
- Reinstatement of security clearance
- Reimbursement for back pay and benefits
- Damages for emotional distress
- Purging of adverse employment records
Federal Employment Lawyer Answers FAQs about Government Employees’ Rights
Regardless of your position in the federal government, understanding your legal rights (and what you can do to protect them) can be difficult. These FAQ answers provide an introduction to what federal employees need to know about some of the most common scenarios. But, they are not a substitute for personalized legal advice. For advice about your individual circumstances, schedule an appointment with federal employment attorney Jay Stafford.
FAQs: Facing Disciplinary Action as a Federal Employee
Does It Matter if I am Facing Discipline Based on Misconduct or Poor Performance?
Yes and no. While misconduct and poor performance can generally lead to the same consequences, the procedures involved in misconduct-based and performance-based disciplinary matters are different. Different defenses are available in misconduct and poor performance cases as well. But, in all cases, federal employees have the right to a written notice before facing discipline, and they have the right to appeal the outcome of their disciplinary proceedings to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
Why Is It Important if a Federal Suspension Lasts More or Less Than 14 Days?
Federal regulations establish different procedures for imposing and challenging employee suspensions lasting more or less than 14 days. For example, federal employees are entitled to additional notice (at least 30 days) before receiving a suspension that lasts more than 14 days. Additionally, suspensions lasting more than 14 days are subject to appeal with the MSPB, while suspensions lasting 14 days or less are not subject to MSPB appeals in most cases (instead, federal employees have other options available).
Are Reductions in Force Disciplinary in Nature (and Can Federal Employees Challenge Their Termination)?
Technically, reductions in force (RIFs) are not disciplinary in nature. However, as a practical matter, employees who have a history of misconduct or poor performance are the most likely to face termination when their agency conducts a RIF. Before the federal government terminates your employment, you are entitled to due process, and you should hire a federal employment lawyer to make sure you are not terminated unfairly.
FAQs: Federal Employee Whistleblower Protections
When Can a Federal Employee Qualify as a Whistleblower?
As the MSPB explains, “To qualify as a protected whistleblower, a Federal employee or applicant for employment must disclose: a violation of any law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; a gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.” However, as the MSPB also notes, disclosure itself “is not enough to obtain protection under the law.”
Federal employees seeking whistleblower protection must report what they know through the appropriate channels, and they must be very careful to avoid inadvertently waiving their right to whistleblower protections. If you believe you have information that may entitle you to protection as a whistleblower, you should promptly consult with a federal employment attorney.
What Constitutes Unlawful Retaliation Against a Whistleblower Who is a Federal Employee?
Whistleblower retaliation can take many different forms, some of which are much more overt and obvious than others. For example, while termination, demotion, and reductions in pay are all possible forms of whistleblower retaliation, so are transfers, unfavorable performance evaluations, being passed over for promotions and other employment opportunities, termination of national security clearance or access to confidential information, harassment, and other forms of discriminatory treatment.
What Can Federal Employees Do if They Experience Whistleblower Retaliation?
Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, federal employees who experience whistleblower retaliation have an individual right of action. This means that federal employees can sue the government for appropriate remedies (i.e., back pay, future pay or reinstatement). But, there are special rules and procedures federal employees must follow as well. As a result, if you believe you may be a victim of unlawful whistleblower retaliation, you should consult with a federal employment lawyer about your next steps.
FAQs: Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) Appeals
What is the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)?
The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is an independent, quasi-judicial agency within the Executive branch of the U.S. government. Its role is to protect federal employees against improper adverse employment action. It specifically has jurisdiction over employment-related decisions based on (or allegedly based on) misconduct and poor performance. Other types of discriminatory and improper practices in the federal workplace fall within the jurisdiction of other federal agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).
How Much Can Federal Employees Receive in MSPB Appeals?
If you have experienced improper discipline or other unlawful employment action that is subject to appeal with the MSPB, the amount you can recover depends on your individual circumstances. This includes your position with the federal government, your tenure, your salary, the specific law the government violated, and various other factors. In some cases, federal employees have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. However, these types of results will not be available in all cases.
Can Federal Employees Seek Reinstatement or Promotion Through the MSPB?
Yes, in addition to awarding compensation to federal employees who have experienced improper adverse employment action, the MSPB can award reinstatement, promotions, and other appropriate employment-related remedies. A federal employment lawyer can determine what remedies are available to you based on the facts of your case and then argue for these remedies on your behalf.
FAQs: Federal Government Reductions in Force (RIFs)
What Should I Do if My Federal Agency is Preparing to Conduct a Reduction in Force (RIF)?
If your federal agency is preparing to conduct a reduction in force, you will want to make sure you are prepared as well. If you are at risk of being terminated, there are steps you may be able to take to protect your job. For example, you will want to make sure your performance appraisals have been completed accurately and placed in your file because having favorable performance appraisals on record could reduce your chances of being fired. A federal employment lawyer can assist you with this process and determine what other steps you should be taking to protect yourself as much as possible.
What is a Retention Register?
A retention register is a list of federal employees who are at risk of being terminated due to a reduction in force. The list is prioritized based on performance and other factors, and the use of a retention register is intended to ensure that no federal employees are terminated on a discriminatory basis. Employees with the lowest “retention factors” are the first ones who will be terminated if the RIF goes forward.
If I Am Facing Termination in a RIF, Can I Seek Alternate Employment with the Federal Government?
Yes, as a federal employee, you have the right to due process during a reduction in force, and this includes the right to due consideration for alternate employment opportunities with the government. For example, you may be entitled to a “bump” or “retreat” to a position at a different level, or you may be able to negotiate a demotion that allows you to retain your current pay for a period of time.
Should I Consider a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP)?
Accepting a voluntary incentive payment (VSIP) is a good option for some, but not all, federal employees. If your federal agency is conducting a reduction in force and you have been offered a VSIP in lieu of termination, you should consult with a federal employment attorney to decide whether you should accept the VSIP or pursue another alternative.
What Should You Do if You Need to Assert Your Legal Rights?
If you need to assert your legal rights as a federal employee, the most important thing you can do is consult with a federal employment lawyer. Unfortunately, asserting your legal rights is not easy. There are strict – and often complicated and complex – rules you need to follow, and making mistakes could lead to additional problems that may be even more difficult to overcome.
At The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, we can explain everything you need to know, and we can deal with the federal government on your behalf. We will work to resolve your issue as quickly as possible, and we will only do what is necessary to protect you.
Speak with a Federal Employment Lawyer at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford
Do you have questions about your legal rights as a federal employee? If so, we invite you to schedule an initial consultation at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford. To speak with a federal employment lawyer in confidence as soon as possible, call 410-514-6099 or get in touch with us online now.