Monthly Archives: November, 2012

Q & A Session – Security Clearance 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 Q: My top secret security clearance was revoked due to financial issues from an old business debt that turned into a lawsuit and was subsequently dropped and withdrawn. The debt still technically exists but they just can’t sue for the $80,000. Everything else, including my car and mortgage payments, are current. I disclosed the debt in the process but I was still denied. Do I have any appeal chances? Is my retirement…

Q & A Session – Not Enough Sick 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 have been a FERS civilian employee for 20 years. I recently had to use more sick leave than I had accrued. Normally, the difference would be taken out of my annual leave in that situation, but this time I was charged leave without pay instead. Is this legal when I did not “request” LWOP using our OPM-71 form? My ward is now requiring us to sign an AWOL letter.…

Q & A Session – Meetings with 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: Is there an obligation to have a union representative in my office when I meet with an employee to discuss an administrative issue (i.e., leave, misconduct, time utilization, failure to follow instructions, etc.)? I am a manager and our national agreement states that, if an employee requests the presence of the union, we must agree. A: If your union contract requires the presence of a union official in certain situations,…

Q & A Session – Full Time Job Offer with Conditions of Employment

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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: My husband accepted a position to serve overseas with the Department of the Army. He left a position with another organization that does not support the war fighter effort. The position was rescinded due to medical issues that arose with the pre-deployment station. His personal doctor said he was fine to go serve. He corrected the medical issues two weeks later and now has no job to return back to.…

Q & A Session – Temporary Assignment as Supervisor

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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-13 and my GS-14 supervisor is leaving to take a new position. His supervisor, a GS-15, is going to advertise and keep this position as a GS-14 supervisor. In the interim, he plans on doing 30-day increments of assignments with no pay increase. Most of the staff are GS-12s or below. Are there limits to how long a person can fill a higher grade without that person…

Q & A Session – Difference between Adverse Actions and Disciplinary Actions

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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 difference between adverse actions and disciplinary actions? Do the Douglas factors apply to both areas? A: An adverse action is one that is covered by statute. For example, any suspension, demotion or removal is an adverse action. Some agencies and union contracts distinguish between adverse actions as more serious and disciplinary as more minor. Otherwise, a disciplinary action can include more serious adverse actions and less serious…

Most fired employees remain eligible for annuities

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A frequent question from employees faced with adverse actions because of misconduct, poor performance or criminal conviction is whether these adverse actions can lead to the loss of federal annuity eligibility. The general rule, subject to some exceptions, is that even if you are fired under these circumstances, you are eligible to receive your annuity, assuming you have met the years of service and age requirements. There are nuances. The first is the distinction between being eligible for regular retirement and being eligible for discontinued service retirement when an adverse action ends your federal employment. The Office of Personnel Management…

Q & A Session – Credit Card Purchase Using Personal Credit Card for Government Activity

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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 I be disciplined for using my own personal credit card to purchase to robot demonstration for an agency program? Before the program, I asked the ethics office if I could use my own funds and they asked why I would do that. I went ahead and did it, and the next week was yelled at in a staff meeting. A: The answer to your question depends on your agency’s…

Q & A Session – Performance Rating

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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 2009, I fell and broke my ankle. I had two surgeries in January 2010 and January 2011. My work fell behind due to my disability and was given no accommodation. My work load actually increased during those periods. Before my injury, I received ratings of 3 but then I was given a written Performance Improvement Plan with bad marks on data entry. I did, however, receive high marks for…

Q & A Session – Cancellation of Approved Annual 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: Can approved annual leave be canceled by a federal supervisor to make the federal employee complete paperwork? A: Yes. You may file a grievance, but managers can cancel pre-approved annual leave for mission-related reasons. 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 – but not promised, guaranteed, or…

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