Monthly Archives: June, 2012

Q & A Session – Basis for EEO 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: Several people in my organization have received promotions from GS 7-9-11-12. Others from GS 9-11, and some from GS 11-12-13 with all of them occurring in a “drug deal” behind closed door fashion, which I believe may have violated federal merit principles. I, however, have been denied the same kind of promotion. Can I file an EEO complaint based upon age, race and gender discrimination? I am over 50 years…

Q & A Session – Background Checks

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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 you were eventually charged with a DWI and then had the charges dismissed, should you declare this in a background check as an arrest? If you were eventually charged with a DWI, then were found innocent by jury, should you declare this in a background check as an arrest? A: The answer to both questions is yes if the background investigation questionnaire asks for arrests and not just convictions.…

Q & A Session – Does Disagreeing with Management Constitute Insubordination?

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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 lawful for an employer to discipline an employee (subordinate) for insubordination or any other type of charge for failing to “shut up” during a discussion? For example, I’ve had several meetings in which I could tell that the new management wished I would stop disagreeing with him. At the end of these discussions, I’ve always done what they’ve told me to do, but I’ve felt within my rights…

Q & A Session – Using Sick Leave Before 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: What are the specific policies on using sick leave prior to retirement for CSRS with over 30 years of service? Would a doctor’s note be adequate? It seems to be a better deal to get a full salary rather than retirement salary for sick leave. A: You may use sick leave for medical appointments, medical incapacitation, to care for a sick family member, to attend a funeral of a close…

Q & A Session – Does a Union Exist at my Agency?

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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 can I find out if a union exists at my agent? My supervisor is changing my critical elements in my performance appraisal plan so that I will fail. A: Check with your HR office to see if you are in a bargaining unit represented by a union. And remember, management ultimately has the final discretion about the content of a critical element. Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw…

Q & A Session – FERS Annuity Program for Federal Employees

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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 new federal employee who was hired in 2012. I was told that I have to pay into the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Annuity. My questions are: Am I required by law to participate in the FERS annuity program or can I opt out? How does paying into this system benefit me and how does this work? If I leave the federal government before I retire, will…

Make the best use of probationary period

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There are good reasons for a probationary or trial period for new federal employees. First, only so much can be learned from a job interview. Second, effective supervisory guidance and mentoring during the probationary period can help a struggling employee become an effective contributor. Third, if termination is necessary, it is easier to remove an employee during the probationary period than after. Removal during the probationary period is not, however, without risk if it is done incorrectly. Managers should know how long the probationary period lasts. Some periods are for one year, and others, for two or more. Check with…

Q & A Session – Management and Bargaining Units

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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 placed in the Bargaining Unit because of my job classification. However, my position is one of direct management responsibility and I have access to extensive employee data and am regularly involved in helping with recruitment. I have input on a variety of management policy matters. Based on my duties, I feel I should not be in the bargaining unit, and no one else in my office is but…

Q & A Session – Compensation for On-the-Job Injury

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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 injured in 2009 while lifting heavy bags. As a result, I ended up with three herniated disc and two bulging disc. At times, I am in a lot of pain which interferes with my duties. I then got in trouble for improper lifting. Do you think I can get compensated for my injury? And if I do, will I lose my job or will I not be able…

Q & A Session – 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: If an employee received a mid-year rating of 4.8 but three months later received an annual appraisal that lowered one aspect making the overall a 4.6 and there was no evidence of any declined performance. Is this a case to pursue? The manager made a mistake at the mid-year by giving a 4.8. A: For a partial answer, please see the June 4, 2012, Ask the Lawyer column. If you…

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