Monthly Archives: August, 2010

Q&A Session – Promotional Denial

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience. Q: Can a federal employee’s full performance level promotion be denied after the initial probationary period expired without any prior notification of unsatisfactory performance? A: Yes. Full performance level or career ladder promotions have a different standard than probationary periods. The standard for full performance is the ability to perform at the next higher level. Generally speaking, an employee on a PIP has very limited recourse other than to try to…

Q&A Session – Taking a Contract Job

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.  Q: Is it legal for a retired military officer to take a contractor job doing the same job he did as when in active duty? A: Yes, someone can come back as a contractor and do the same job, but with certain limitations. That person cannot represent a contractor or work on the same matter they worked on as a federal employee. To make sure ethics rules are not being violated…

Q&A Session – Travel Reimbursement for Airline Miles

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience. Q: I recently filed a travel voucher with my agency following my return from leave and temporary duty. I purchased airline miles with my credit card and applied the miles toward my airfare. I used the airfare for my leave, but stopped at a TDY location on the way home. I was told that GAO doesn’t recognize airline miles and would not reimburse my ticket to the TDY location. Is this…

Q&A Session – Disability Retirement

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience. Q: An employee has a medical condition that prevents him from doing his job which requires heavy lifting and a lot of walking. What are his options? A: Under the Rehabilitation Act, or the Americans With Disabilities Act as applied to federal employees, federal employers are obligated to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability, if requested, so long as the accommodation does not pose an undue hardship…

Q&A Session – Grieving a PIP

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience. Q: In a recent column I read that employees could not grieve being given a PIP. Could you please provide the legal reference for this? A: Many federal agency administrative grievance procedures (non-union) and negotiated collective bargaining agreements (CBA) exclude performance improvement plans (PIP) as grievable matters.  This is because PIPs are considered to be a preliminary step in addressing perceived performance deficiencies and have no actual impact on employment, even…

Q&A Session – False EEO Complaints

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience. Q: I have an employee that makes frequent complaints of harassment. Can this employee be brought up on charges that she caused a hostile work environment due to false EEO allegations? A: Filing a hostile work environment claim against an employee requires a basis of discriminations, such as race, religion, national origin, disability, sex, etc. You cannot file a hostile work environment claim against an employee merely because she filed a…

Performance or conduct? Standards differ for adverse action

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A perplexing challenge for a federal manager is figuring out whether a problem employee should be handled through the performance or misconduct adverse action systems. Each system has different standards and requirements. To some managers this looks like a legal trap: Make a misstep and the problem employee is empowered, and the manager is paralyzed in dealing with that employee in the future. This is really not true. Congress has given federal managers both tools, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that managers are free to use either system. Both tools work, but one may…

Q&A Session: Duty Hours During TDY Travel Day

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience. Q: Our supervisor wants us to account for all hours on a TDY travel day. If the work/hours do not account for 8 hours, we’re supposed to take leave or go into the office. To accommodate people at a TDY site, we usually start work later than our normal duty hours. Our supervisor also wants us to add up all the hours we work and travel in the day and anything…

Q&A Session: Submitting a Formal Complaint

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience. Q: A colleague regularly breakes rules from our employee conduct handbook. Several of us have kept notes documenting the incident and have reported it to management. The only incidents that have been addressed have been when one of us agreed to be named as the person that reported the behavior. For those people that fear retaliation because of being a subordinate of the problem employee, is it necessary to make a formal…