Monthly Archives: June, 2013

Q & A Session – EEO Counselors

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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 filed an EEO complaint on my supervisor on the basis of age discrimination and harassment. It has now gone to the formal complaint process – I am currently waiting to be assigned an EEO counselor.  Last week, I filed an EEO retaliation complaint with my agency but have continued to experience harassment and a hostile work environment. I am being told by the agency EEO counselor that this is…

Q & A Session – AWOL for Arriving Late to Work

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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 employed with the federal government for over 30 years. I was informed upon entry that whenever I intended to either be late for work or not come into work due to illness, I was to notify my supervisor of such as early as possible, but that I would be designated absent without leave if the notification was not within two hours of my established reporting time. Does…

Q & A Session – Mandatory Teleworking

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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: Does a federal agency have the legal right to order an employee to telework without it being part of the official job description? A: Yes. An agency can determine where work is to be performed. Most federal employees prefer telework, but, admittedly, it is not the best option for everyone.   Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC. Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this…

How to deal with contractor misconduct

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The federal workforce is often called the blended workforce. It consists of federal and contractor employees working together, often performing the same duties. So who’s in charge? Only federal employees can perform essentially governmental functions, and someone should be watching to make sure federal and contractor employees stick to their respective proper roles. A process managed by the acquisition community has been created to help. The contracting officer writes a statement of work and publicizes the availability of work to be done under a government contract. After what is usually a competitive process, the contractor company is selected and provides…

Q & A Session – Erroneous Step Level

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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 hired under the VRA act as a GS-7, step 5. After I began working in this position, I was told there was an error and I was only supposed to be offered a GS-7, step 1. They have continued to give me erroneous paperwork and are trying to reduce my step level. Can they do this? A: I am assuming that your agency correctly determined that your step…

Q & A Session – Difference Between RIF and Reorganization

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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 you please explain the difference between a Reduction-in-Force (RIF) and a reorganization? A: A reorganization can be a reason to do a RIF. But, if a reorganization can be done without a reduction-in-force, everyone gets to keep working. If not, RIF rules apply.   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 – Appealing Retirement Decisions

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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 retired in 2010. My agency provided me a correct annuity amount, but OPM provided a different amount. The agency and OPM each say they are correct. I have asked my Senator to submit a Congressional inquiry. Can any type of suit be brought against either agency? A: You may appeal retirement questions to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). But, OPM is right, it must rely on what the…

Q & A Session – Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation

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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 a disability from a back injury sustained while serving in Iraq. I have been working at an agency for 9 months with a long commute. Due to increased pain, my doctor raised the level of pain medication and I can no longer make the drive to work. I applied for reasonable accommodation to telework, but my request was denied. I am filing an appeal. What are my options…

Q & A Session – Downgrade After Desk Audit

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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 a full time federal employee undergoes a desk audit and the position is downgraded, what would happen to their pay? A: A demotion resulting from a desk audit or a reclassification decision is subject to two years of saved grade with saved pay thereafter indefinitely.    Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC. Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes…

Q & A Session – Damages for Stress Affecting Health

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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 about to enter into negotiations for settlement with a federal agency over unfair evaluations, failure to award compensatory time for hours worked, disparate treatment in the awarding of compensatory time, and retaliation and harassment. What are reasonable damages when one can show the stress affected one’s health and you are a disabled employee? A: “Ask the Lawyer” cannot give advice on specific cases. Stress affecting health can…

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