Monthly Archives: August, 2011

Q & A Session – Postal Service Time to VA

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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 a former employee with the Postal Service, but am now working for the Veterans Administration. Will my time with the Postal Service carry over to the VA? A: Postal service time counts towards retirement. It does not count for the probationary period.   Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC. Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information…

Q & A Session – Letter of Requirement

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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 federal employee with use or lose annual leave and 1200 hours of sick leave was out sick for two weeks and then four days at two separate times during a calendar year, both supported by medical documentation stating “this patient is under my care” with appropriate dates. However, they were placed on a letter of requirement even though they hadn’t been charged AWOL, had a negative leave balance and…

Q & A Session – Refused Sick Leave to Care for Sister

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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 recently refused sick leave under FMLA to care for my sister who is suffering from breast cancer and severe depression. I have also appealed the refusal to my manager’s supervisor. Can they do this? A: “Sister” is not a covered relationship under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). To be covered, the relationship must be a spouse, parent or child. FMLA generally must be requested in advance…

Q & A Session – Dating a Subordinate

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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 wrong for a supervisor to date or have a relationship with a subordinate? Can a supervisor rent a room to that same subordinate? A: Please review my column on sexual harassment in the federal workplace with a paragraph on dating subordinates. While the situation you describe is not per se illegal if the relationship is willful, it may: 1) Violate agency rules against relationships with or dating of…

Q & A Session – Forced to Take Leave or Credit Hours

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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 a GS-11 on a flex schedule. My schedule varies but I am supposed to work 80 hours per paid period. I have been told that if I do not perform 80 hours of work, I should use credit hours or leave to complete the 80 hours. Sometimes the way my schedule works out, I’m left with less than 80 hours. Is this legal? A: If you are a…

Q & A Session – Veterans Preference for Promotion

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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 a current permanent federal employee under FERS, and I am also a disabled veteran. I have applied for a higher position within my current department. Am I still eligible to receive a 10 point veterans preference for the new position? A: Veterans preference applies to initial appointment and reductions-in-force. It does not apply to internal promotions. Veterans preference may apply to a prevent a non-veteran from being hired…

Q & A Session – Coworker in Performance Appraisal

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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 had the understanding that performance appraisals are always done one-on-one with my supervisor and that all appraisals are considered private. My current supervisor wants our team leader to sit in on the performance appraisals even though she has no supervising authority. I believe they may claim the exception “the information is disclosed to an agency employee who maintains the record or has a ‘need to know’ in the performance…

Preparation crucial when facing Congress

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Both chambers of Congress exercise oversight responsibility over executive branch agencies. Lately, it seems there are more oversight hearings, with career employees sometimes being called into the hot seat. It can be a scary proposition because of subpoenas, large hearing rooms, written and oral testimony, reporters and perhaps other unfamiliar occurrences. A positive oversight experience requires coordination, preparation and candor. Most of all, the process must be taken seriously. Congress eventually will either get the information it wants, or it will make the career federal employee very uncomfortable. First, assess whether the inquiry concerns a program review or personal exposure.…

Q & A Session – Denial of Promotion

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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 a GS-9 and I was denied a promotion to a GS-11. However, how much of the GS-11 position description do I need to be performing to demonstrate I am working at the next level? A: To receive a career ladder promotion, you must demonstrate the ability to perform at the next higher level. If you are believe you are the victim of illegal discrimination, you of course may…

Q & A Session – Lower Grade in Acting Position Over Higher Grade

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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 an employee of a lower grade be assigned in an acting position over an employee in a higher grade? A: Yes. I know of no rule that prevents this. The wisdom of such an action is another question. Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC. Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended…

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