Monthly Archives: June, 2011

Q & A Session – Overtime Pay and Leave

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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 work Friday through Tuesday with Wednesday and Thursday off each week. I was required to attend a two-day meeting on my days off. I was told I would get paid overtime, however, instead of working 12 days straight, I decided to request leave for two other days. I was then told I would only get paid regular time if I took leave. This this correct? A: An employee generally…

Q & A Session – Maintaining Security Clearance

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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 am exploring starting my own consulting company. I currently hold a TS/SCI and would need to maintain a minimum SECRET clearance in my new role. How can I maintain my clearance without setting up a Security Office? A: Prior DOD adjudicative determinations for appointments in sensitive positions or access to classified information, including those pertaining to SCI, will be mutually and reciprocally accepted by all DOD agencies without requiring…

Q & A Session – Disciplinary Records and Privacy Act Violation

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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 a violation of the Privacy Act if an employer discloses information regarding an employee’s disciplinary file, especially if it false? A: The Privacy Act prohibits unauthorized disclosure of private information contained in a system of records. It also requires that records be maintained with accuracy. If you believe the employment reference check form is inaccurate and assuming it exists in a system of records (which it probably does),…

Q & A Session – Lying During an Investigation

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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 was involved in an investigation a few years ago and no wrongdoing was found. However, I later obtained documents that showed the agency lied during the investigation. I reported this to the original investigator and the IG office and GAO. Is it ethically okay for an agency to lie during an investigation? A: The short answer to your question is that it is not permissible to lied during an…

Keys to avoiding sexual harassment complaints

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Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, but that was not always the case. In the late 1970s, the judicial system began to provide meaningful remedies for those who were subjected to unwelcome sexual pressures or conditions related to their jobs. Today, though sexual harassment’s prevalence seems to have diminished, it has not been eliminated. There are still piggish bosses and boorish co-workers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as: “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature … when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly…

Q & A Session – Challenging a Downgrade

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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: After a desk audit at my agency, I was downgraded a GS grade but my pay was not affected. However, I have asked HR to furnish me with the findings that justified this change but have been ignored. How do I get the information I need to appeal or challenge this action? A: You can file a Freedom of Information Privacy Act request for the information. You might not receive…

Q & A Session – Annual Leave as Lump Sum

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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: After an involuntary separation, I wanted to use annual leave for my last five weeks after my last day on the job. However, I wanted my annual leave spread out, rather than in a lump sum to preserve my health benefits for as long as possible and extend my service for retirement purposes. Is there a rule that says you have to have a lump sum or can I have…

Q & A Session – Salary Cap Differences

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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 my agency, I have reached the salary cap. However, I recently found out that another agency has a higher salary cap. Why would these differ? A: Congress can do this and often does. For example, at the SES or equivalent pay level, Congress has created at least 88 different pay systems, many with different caps and some with no caps. Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford &…

Q & A Session – Arbitration Award

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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: How does a federal employee force an agency to honor an arbitration award? Is there any timeframe they must adhere to? A: If you went to arbitration, it was because you are in a bargaining unit and are represented by a union. It is up to your union to enforce the arbitration award. Your union has tools by which to do this, including the filing of an unfair labor practice…

Q & A Session – Disrespectful Manager

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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: What remedies are available when a manager is disrespectful, rude or mean to a subordinate supervisor? I have read your columns on disrespectful behavior in the workplace, are there similar rules for management? A: The answer to the second question – are there similar rules for management – is yes, although a supervisor might be granted some leeway in dealing with a difficult or recalcitrant employee. If the subordinate is…

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