Get Help Protecting Your Legal Rights from an Experienced Title 38 Lawyer

If you are a medical professional who works at a federal agency such as the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH), you are subject to specific rules and restrictions that do not apply to other federal employees. These rules and restrictions exist under Title 38 of the United States Code. Protecting your legal rights—and potentially your career—when facing discipline presents some unique challenges, and as a result, it is important to have an experienced Title 38 attorney on your side.

An Overview of Title 38

Title 38 is a federal law that governs certain aspects of medical professionals’ employment with the VHA and NIH. For example, while most federal employees are subject to a one-year probationary period at the start of their employment, Title 38 employees are on probation for two years. During this probationary period, federal employees do not enjoy the same job protections as their more-tenured colleagues. Probationary employment with the federal government is more similar to at-will employment in the private sector—meaning that the VHA and NIH can terminate probationary Title 38 employees without cause in many cases.

After the initial two-year probationary period, Title 38 employees are entitled to many of the same protections as other federal employees, but they must pursue different means of recourse when they believe their rights have been violated. While most federal employees can appeal adverse employment actions to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), Title 38 employees cannot. Instead, Title 38 employees must generally file appeals with the Medical Center Director, a Disciplinary Appeals Board (DAB) or in federal district court—unless the matter is subject to a Title 5 collective bargaining agreement.

Medical Professionals Who Are Subject to Title 38

There are two classes of Title 38 employees—“pure” Title 38 employees and “hybrid” employees who have rights under both Title 38 and Title 5. Pure Title 38 employees include:

  • Chiropractors
  • Dentists
  • Expanded-Function Dental Auxiliary Professionals
  • Optometrists
  • Physician Assistants
  • Physicians
  • Podiatrists
  • Registered Nurses

Hybrid Title 38 and Title 5 employees include (but are not limited to):

  • Biomedical Engineers
  • Chemists
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Dietitians
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Mental Health Counselors
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians
  • Physical Therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers
  • Vocational Nurses

We Handle All Title 38 Matters for Federally Employed Medical Professionals

Our firm represents all types of federally employed medical professionals in Title 38 matters. If you need an experienced Title 38 attorney, we can represent you whether you work in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia or elsewhere. All of our attorneys have extensive Title 38 experience. Whether you are under investigation, facing discipline, or simply have questions or concerns about your legal rights, we can assist you.

Some examples of the titles of Title 38 matters we handle include:

  • Administration Investigation Board (AIB) investigations and hearings
  • Medical Center Director and DAB hearings
  • Adverse personnel action appeals in federal court
  • Harassment and discrimination claims
  • Retaliation claims against whistleblowers

Regardless of your individual circumstances, if you need help, we encourage you to get in touch. Understanding your legal rights as a Title 38 employee can be challenging—and protecting your legal rights can be even more complicated. However, with our experience representing federally employed medical professionals, we can help you make informed decisions, and we can deal with your agency and any other federal offices or authorities on your behalf.

FAQs: Understanding Your Legal Rights as a Title 38 Federal Employee

Are Title 38 Employees Still Protected By Other Federal Employment Laws?

Yes, while medical professionals who are subject to Title 38 do not enjoy all of the same benefits of federal employment as other federal workers, Title 38 medical professionals still have many fundamental employment-related rights. Some examples of the laws that apply to Title 38 medical professionals include:

  • Administrative Procedures Act (APA) – The APA allows federal courts to set aside agency actions that are arbitrary, capricious or otherwise unlawful.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) – The ADEA prohibits federal employers from discriminating on the basis of age with respect to employees who are 40 years of age or older.
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – The Rehabilitation Act prohibits disability-based discrimination in federal employment, similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the private sector.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Title VII prohibits federal employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion or sex.
  • Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) – Under the WPA, the VHA and NIH are prohibited from taking retaliatory employment action against Title 38 employees who are whistleblowers.

What Types of Disciplinary Action Can I Face as a Title 38 Employee?

Title 38 employees can face the full range of adverse employment actions available to federal employers. This includes reprimands, suspensions, demotions, pay cuts, reassignments and removals. Licensed professionals can also face licensing action—up to and including the possibility of permanent license revocation, depending on the circumstances involved.

When Should I Hire a Title 38 Attorney?

You should hire a Title 38 attorney if you are a medical professional employed by the VHA or NIH and you have any questions or concerns about your employment. While it is possible to appeal adverse employment actions (as long as you do so in a timely manner through the appropriate channels), it is generally best to avoid facing adverse employment action when possible. As a result, if you are under investigation, have received a notice of suspension, or are dealing with any other issue that could negatively impact your employment with the VHA or NIH, we recommend that you proactively engage a Title 38 attorney to assist you.

Speak with The Law Offices of J.W. Stafford in Confidence

If you need to know more about your legal rights or options as a medical professional employed by the VHA or NIH, we invite you to schedule an initial consultation. To speak with an experienced Title 38 lawyer in confidence as soon as possible, please call 410-514-6099 or tell us how we can reach you online today.