ATTN FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: Attorney Jay Stafford Discusses Whether Losing Your Security Clearance Means Losing Your Government Job in FEDweek
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Virginia Federal Discrimination Lawyer Helping Federal Employees

While most people know that workplace discrimination is against the law, many federal employees face discrimination at work every day. The good news for those of you who have suffered discrimination at work is that you have rights. A Virginia federal discrimination lawyer can help you protect your rights and build a better future for yourself and others. 

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Workplace Discrimination is Illegal Under Federal Law

Federal employment laws prohibit discrimination in any form based on sex, genderageracedisability, or sexual orientation. This includes the following statutes: 

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Rehabilitation Act (prohibits discrimination against people who are disabled)
  • The Equal Pay Act (requiring that men and women receive equal pay for equal work)
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

These same laws apply to all federal agencies. If you believe you have been discriminated against, a Virginia federal discrimination lawyer can determine whether you belong to one of the protected classes or have protected status under federal law. 

Workplace Discrimination Within the Federal Government Is More Common Than You Think

Workplace discrimination can include any discriminatory action related to hiring, promotion, termination, wages, or benefits. Actions that can be considered discriminatory include the following: 

  • Discriminatory hiring practices
  • The use of racial slurs or other derogatory language
  • Sexual harassment and assault
  • Inappropriate jokes
  • Discriminatory disciplinary measures
  • Discriminatory promotional procedures
  • Discriminatory pay
  • Retaliatory actions resulting from filing a discrimination complaint

If you have been treated differently due to your gender, race, age, or some other discriminatory behavior, you may have a discrimination claim under federal law. 

Discrimination Isn’t Always Apparent

Because agency heads and supervisors are aware that they can be held liable for discrimination, discriminatory behavior in the workplace is often subtle. It can take the form of agency-wide policies that have a disparate impact on minorities or other protected classes. It may be that your agency has failed to investigate or otherwise take action when they receive complaints concerning discrimination. In addition, discrimination does not need to be intentional - a federal discrimination claim can include instances where the agency has failed to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and equally, regardless of their gender, race, or ethnicity. 

That said, you need to prove that you have been discriminated against to prevail in a federal discrimination claim. An experienced Virginia federal discrimination lawyer can help you document your claim and collect the evidence you need to protect your rights. 

How a Virginia Federal Discrimination Lawyer Can Help With the Complaint Process

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created to protect all workers (including federal employees) against discrimination. If you are a current federal worker or someone applying for a federal position, and you believe you have been discriminated against by a federal agency, you are entitled to file a complaint. 

To start, you should contact the agency’s EEO counselor at the office that handles EEO complaints. This must be done within 45 days of the alleged incident of discrimination. The EEO counselor will give you the option to take part in EEO counseling or use alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation. 

If you are unable to settle through counseling or ADR, you can file a formal discrimination complaint against the agency at its EEO office. It must be filed within 15 days of you receiving notice from the EEO counselor explaining how to file. Once the formal complaint has been filed, the agency will review and determine whether it should be dismissed for procedural reasons.

If the case is not dismissed, an investigation will begin. The agency has 180 days from the date of filing to complete the investigation and once done, you will receive notice of two options: ask for a hearing with an EEOC administrative judge or request that the agency make a decision regarding the alleged discrimination. If the agency issues a decision and no discrimination is found (or if you disagree with a portion of the decision), you can file an appeal with the EEOC or take it to federal district court.

A Virginia federal discrimination lawyer can help in the following ways: 

  • They can help you document your claim and collect the evidence you need. 
  • They can ensure that all deadlines are met and that all necessary paperwork is correctly completed and filed.
  • They can represent you at any hearings.
  • They can help you understand your options.

Helping Virginia Federal Employees in All Employment-Related Matters

Virginia Federal Employment Lawyers Representing Employees of All Branches, Agencies and Departments

Whether you work for a federal agency in Virginia or you live in Virginia and commute to Washington D.C., our attorneys can represent you if you have a claim against the government. We represent federal employees statewide, from those who live in NOVA to those who live in Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke and other areas of the Commonwealth.

Our experience spans representing federal employees in an extremely broad range of offices and occupations. This includes representing:

  • Appointed and Elected Federal Officials
  • Employees of All Executive Agencies, Departments, Divisions and Offices
  • Judiciary Personnel
  • Legislative Personnel
  • Senior Executive Service Personnel

Despite its relatively modest population, Virginia has the second-highest number of federal employees of all 50 states. While this is due largely to the Commonwealth’s proximity to the Capital, agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) have facilities in the western part of the state as well. Regardless of where you live and what you do (or did) for work, if you need help related to your federal employment, our attorneys can use their experience to assist you.

Our Other Services for Federal Employees in Virginia

Our attorneys represent federal employees in Virginia in all employment-related matters. This includes matters such as:

Denial of Reasonable Accommodations

If you have a disability that makes it difficult, uncomfortable or impossible to perform your job duties in your office’s or agency’s standard work environment, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations under the Rehabilitation Act. We can help you enforce your rights under the Act if your request for a reasonable accommodation has been denied.

Disciplinary Action

We represent federal employees facing disciplinary action based on alleged misconduct and alleged poor performance. Before taking adverse employment action, federal employers must provide due notice, and they must follow all of the additional requisite procedures that are in place to protect federal workers.

Harassment

Like other types of discrimination, harassment can take many different forms. Whether you are a victim of a physical or verbal assault, you have received emails or texts that make you feel uncomfortable, or you go to work every day in a hostile work environment, you have clear legal rights that our lawyers can help you enforce.

Misclassification

Misclassification of exempt and non-exempt employees is not limited to the private sector. While private companies often misclassify employees in order to avoid paying overtime and employment taxes, federal entities often misclassify employees for a variety of other reasons. If your agency has improperly classified you as an exempt employee, we encourage you to contact us so that we can determine how much you may be entitled to recover in unpaid wages and overtime.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides federal employees with the right to take job-protected unpaid leave for a variety of different reasons. Federal employers must grant qualifying workers’ requests for FMLA leave, and they must not discriminate against those who choose to exercise their rights under the FMLA.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is among several laws that govern federal employee compensation. While FLSA claims commonly involve unpaid overtime, federal employees can assert their rights under the law in various other ways as well. If you believe that you have been underpaid, our attorneys can assess your rights under the FLSA and take appropriate legal action on your behalf.

Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) Appeals

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) hears appeals involving removals, reductions in force (RIFs), demotions, denials of pay increases, suspensions lasting more than 14 days and furloughs of 30 days or less. It handles appeals involving other matters in certain circumstances as well. If you have faced adverse employment action as a federal employee in Virginia and have questions about going to the MSPB, we encourage you to contact us for more information.

Retaliation

Like private-sector employers, federal entities are prohibited from retaliating against whistleblowers. They are also prohibited from retaliating against employees who choose to assert their legal rights. If you believe that you have experienced retaliatory adverse employment action, or if you have concerns about facing adverse employment action as a federal whistleblower, our attorneys can help.

Security Clearance

We handle all security clearance matters on behalf of federal employees in Virginia. This includes helping federal employees and candidates navigate the application process; responding to proposed suspensions and revocations; and appealing wrongful security clearance suspensions, revocations and denials.

Wrongful Termination

Have you lost your job as a federal employee in Virginia? If so, you may have a claim for wrongful termination. Federal employers must follow a stringent removal process; and, when they fail to follow this process (or terminate an employee for an unlawful reason), there are clear remedies available.

FAQs: Understanding Your Rights as a Federal Employee in Virginia

If I Have a Discrimination Claim, Should I Hire a Lawyer Before Contacting My Agency’s EEO Counselor?

Yes, if you believe that you have experienced discrimination in the workplace as a federal employee, it is a good idea to contact a lawyer before contacting your agency’s EEO counselor. A lawyer who has experience representing federal employees will be able to help ensure that you submit the strongest claim possible. Keep in mind, however, that time is of the essence due to the short period of time you have to contact your EEO Counselor.  

What Can I Do if I Have Been Denied or Lost My Federal Security Clearance?

If you have been denied or lost your security clearance, you should contact a federal employment lawyer promptly. You may have grounds to challenge the government’s decision; and, if you do, your lawyer can help you file an appeal.

Can a Lawyer Help Me Protect My Federal Job During a Reduction in Force?

Depending on various factors, it may be possible to protect your federal job during a reduction in force. If your agency is conducting a RIF, we encourage you to contact us so that we can determine what options you have available. 

Contact Virginia Federal Discrimination Lawyer J.W. Stafford Today

The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford is dedicated to protecting the rights of federal workers in Virginia. To speak with a Virginia federal discrimination lawyer who knows how to get results, contact us today at 410-514-6099 to schedule a consultation.