Monthly Archives: September, 2013

Bill Bransford, champion of federal employees, dies

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William L. Bransford, a prominent lawyer serving the federal community and regular columnist for Federal Times, died Friday. Bransford, who was fighting cancer, was 66. As a partner at the law firm of Shaw Bransford & Roth P.C. since 1983 and general counsel of the Senior Executives Association (SEA) and Federal Managers Association, Bransford helped pioneer the field of federal personnel law, along with his mentor, Jerry Shaw, who founded the law firm in 1982. “At the time there was no such thing as federal personnel law,” said Debra Roth, a fellow partner at the firm who worked with Bransford…

Q & A Session – LWOP 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’m currently a federal employee within the Department of Justice, and a member of the Army National Guard. My local HR department told me that prior to any use of leave without pay during my drill weekends or annual training, I was required (by the Department of Justice policy) to write a memorandum to my executive supervisor stating I would be using LWOP during a military absence and provide the…

Q & A Session – Probationary Periods

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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:  For the last 7 years, I was in the competitive service. I am also a veteran. Approximately a year ago, I transferred from a GS-1801 Competitive Service to a GS-1811 Excepted Service. Although I have changed job classification from general inspection to criminal investigation, I am still doing law enforcement work. Essentially, it is the same line of work; I just do more paperwork now. My new agency told me…

Q & A Session – Secession Petition

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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 work for the federal government. Many of my coworkers are talking about a secession petition available to sign on the internet. I try to discourage their efforts and point out that I think it is a violation of their ‘Oath of Office’ they swore to when employed. Can this hurt their career?  A:  This is a very complicated issue not only because of the oath of office, but also…

Q & A Session – Collecting Unemployment While on Furlough

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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 federal employee was put on furlough without pay, could he/she apply for unemployment for that period?  A:  Generally, yes. However, you must be placed in LWOP (leave without pay) status for at least one full week to receive unemployment insurance benefits. Depending on the reason you were placed on LWOP, your agency may challenge your claim (e.g. if LWOP was a result of a disciplinary action, etc.). We…

Q & A Session – Reduction in Force

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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 factors go into reduction in force (“RIF”) decisions?  A:  OPM regulations require agencies to give effect to four factors when releasing employees as part of a reduction in force (“RIF”). Tenure of employment; Veterans’ preference; Length of service; and Performance ratings. The regulatory requirements for a RIF may found in 5 CFR Part 351.  Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC. Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer…

Q & A Session – False EEO or Harassing Conduct Allegations

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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 action can be taken when employees file false SSO or Harassing Conduct Allegations?  A:  Federal employees have little to no recourse against other employees who file false complaints. While it is a crime to make a false statement under oath in the course of an EEO investigation on litigation, such crimes are not often prosecuted. Additionally, agencies do not often take action against such false complaints to avoid the…

Q & A Session – Security Clearance Denial

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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 granted an interim security clearance and started working 6 months ago. I still don’t have my final clearance yet. If my final clearance gets denied, am I able to get another federal position that doesn’t require a security clearance?  A:  There are many federal positions that do not require a security clearance. If your position requires a clearance, but you are denied one, you may appeal the denial…

Q & A Session – MSPB Suspension Review

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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 given a Notice of Suspension for a 3 day suspension by my supervisor. My supervisor asked me to give an Oral Written Reply to the notice. The reviewing official issued the Notice of Decision to Suspend before I was allowed to give my reply. Can I appeal to the MSPB?  A:  Generally, the MSPB will not review suspensions which are less than 15 days. If you wish to…

Understanding new Hatch Act rules

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Six months ahead of the first primary elections of the 2014 election cycle, government employees across the country should take notice of how, for the first time since 1993, Congress has expanded some public employees’ ability to participate in the democratic process, under the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012. An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, the official name of the Hatch Act, as enacted in 1939, has long prohibited federal employees (with very limited exception) and many state and local government employees from engaging in partisan political activity, threatening career-ending penalties for violations of any degree. Before the…

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