Monthly Archives: October, 2011

Managers should be wary of running afoul of No Fear Act

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The 2002 No FEAR Act is supposed to hold managers accountable for equal employment opportunity violations and make federal employees more aware of their EEO and whistle-blower rights. Managers should be aware of and wary of the No FEAR Act — the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act — and its requirements. Numerous provisions of the law are potential land mines for managers. For example, the law requires agencies to report to Congress annually about violations of anti-discrimination and whistle-blower reprisal laws, including such information as the number of offending managers who were disciplined, the nature of the…

Accommodations for disabled should involve employee, manager, experts

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Providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities is a legal obligation for federal agencies, and every manager should understand how reasonable accommodation requests are processed. Not only is accommodating disabilities the “legal” thing to do, it provides a valuable source of capable, motivated employees who would not otherwise be able to work. In general, managers should be aware that agencies have a reasonable accommodation policy. That policy should be consulted and followed whenever a disability/reasonable accommodation issue surfaces in the workplace. Managers should also be aware that the law on disability is complicated and is evolving. The Equal Employment Opportunity…

Q & A Session – Charging Annual Time

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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 Federal firefighter.  We work 72-hour shifts.  Usually when I go Temporary Duty (TDY), I do not need to report to work the day of my return. Recently, a co-worker was sent TDY to a training class for several weeks.  When he returned, his shift was working and he was told that he would have four hours to return to work or else he would have to take…

Q & A Session – Refusing to Sign 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 was rated “effective” in a performance appraisal done last year and was prevented from receiving a performance bonus from the bonus pool. Can an employee refuse to sign a performance appraisal if he does not agree with it? A: I think it is unwise to not sign a performance appraisal, even if you do not agree with it. Your signature merely acknowledges that you have received the appraisal. You…

Q & A Session – Compensation for Flight Layovers

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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: One of my subordinates was on a temporary duty assignment for training.  On his return flight, the employee missed his connection, even though the layover was nearly an hour and a half long.  The next flight to his original destination did not leave for nearly seven hours.  Therefore, the employee requested and the Agency authorized an alternate flight, which approximately three hours later.  Is the employee to be compensated for…

Q & A Session – Off-Duty Restrictions

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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 civilian Federal law enforcement agent.  I have been sent on Temporary Duty (TDY) to a camp for approximately six weeks of training.  We work twelve hours each day and are compensated for those twelve hours.  When we are off-duty, we are not compensated, and we are not allowed to leave the camp.  We are told that if we do, we will be disciplined.  We are not allowed…

Q & A Session – Class Action Lawsuit Pending Against Department of Justice?

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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 there a class action lawsuit pending against the Department of Justice for exposure to second-hand smoke?  Second-hand smoke is dangerous, and I have been exposed to it for many years.  The Department has moved the smoking which was nearest to me, but it is still too close, and non-smokers must inhale tobacco smoke.  However, if I complain, I am harassed.  What should I do? A: Using internet research tools,…

Q & A Session – Choosing Between Compensatory and Overtime Pay

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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 Permanent Full-Time Employee. I was advised that I could earn compensatory time in lieu of overtime pay. When I attempted to use compensatory time, I was told that I had been given inaccurate information and that I can only be given compensatory time in lieu of overtime when overtime is not granted or proved essential. Can you please explain this situation? A: Federal employees often have a…

Q & A Session – Submitting Papers under VERA

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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: If I submit my retirement papers and then the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) is implemented, does the law allow me to re-submit my retirement papers under VERA? A: Yes, if your agency has determined that your position is subject to VERA. 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…

Q & A Session – Individual FEHBP Coverage and 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: Both my spouse and I are retired federal employees with an annuity. We enrolled in the Federal Health Plan in 1967. My spouse is enrolled as a member and I am the dependent. I retired in 2001 with 12 years of service. We are separated and I would like to enroll in a self-only policy. Am I eligible to enroll in a self-only policy? If so, can I enroll myself…

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