Monthly Archives: November, 2013

Q & A Session: Unjustified Relocation Assignment Complaint

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Q: I was geographically reassigned in September 2011 from Honolulu to San Francisco. I was wondering how long do I have to file a complaint for unjustified relocation assignment? I feel I was forced to relocate with the hope that I would resign. A: You are describing a management directed reassignment.  There are some specific details which could be very important to determining your rights to challenge a reassignment.  Under law, members of the Senior Executive Service can be reassigned unilaterally and can be removed from their positions from failure to accept such a directed reassignment (5 USC § 3395).…

Q & A Session: When can I retire?

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Q: I have been employed with the Postal Service for 16 years.  I am 61 years old. When can I retire without any kind on penalty? A: You will be eligible to retire without a reduction after you turn 62 years old, since you have more than five years of service under 5 C.F.R. § 842.204(a).  However, your annuity will likely continue to increase if you continue working after that. I am answering your question under the assumption that you are in the FERS retirement system and that your sixteen years at the postal service is your only government service. …

Q & A Session: Minimum Time in Execution of Relocation

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Q: I’ve been with DOD since 1974 and have been a GS employee since May 2009. A relocation of myself and eight other employees from Norfolk to Omaha is in the works. Once the decision is made to relocate us is there any definition for minimum time involved in execution of movement? A: Your permanent change of station orders will include a report date on which you will be expected to begin work in Omaha. You may be able to delay your report date by filing a request for an extension to find appropriate housing or to finish out a…

Q & A Session: Divorce Clause to Thrift Savings Plan

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Q: My wife has a clause in her divorce that says when her ex-husband retires from the government, she gets half of what he had in his Thrift Savings Plan account at the time of their divorce. How long can he go before she can receive that money? He turns 60 in November, and she really needs the money for home repairs and bills. A: While some government jobs face mandatory retirement ages, most government employees do not. If the court order will not go into effect until he retires, it is very difficult to predict when that will be.…

Q & A Session: Intermittent Leave Following Child Birth

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Q: As a salaried manager, I informally questioned about FMLA leave for the birth of my child. I was informed that I would be approved for 12 workweeks off. I requested to our HR department to take 6 consecutive weeks off (per the doctor’s requirement). Once I was physically released to work with no restrictions, I requested to return to work only 2 days per week for an additional 6 weeks so that I was able to care for my child. I was told that they are not required to allow me to take partial time off and the decision…

Q & A Session: Dependent Care FSA vs. Medical Expense FSA

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Q: I lost my job a week ago, and I discovered that I accidentally signed up for a Dependent Care FSA Account at my last benefits enrollment when I meant to sign up for a Medical Expense FSA Account. I already have a balance of $1,300 in the Dependent Care FSA. Is there any way I can get this money back? A: Please consult your benefits representative for further information or questions, but it appears that you have no recourse to the $1,300 balance in your FSA account. Your Dependent Care Account (DCA) is an employer sponsored benefit. Your participation…

Avoid the risks of favoritism

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If you are a manager or supervisor and have a role in a merit selection process, be careful. Over the past several years, I’ve seen an increase in the scrutiny of the manager’s role in the merit selection process — specifically into whether a manager has influenced the process to steer a selection. Many of these cases involve an allegation that the manager engaged in the prohibited personnel practice (PPP) of granting an unauthorized preference or advantage in hiring an applicant or promoting an employee. Since I began practicing law, I’ve heard federal employees complain about not being selected for a…

Q & A Session: Back Pay Calculation

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Q: I filed a complaint with the OSC and was able to prove all my claims and that I was fired for whistleblowing. The OSC is now in talks with the agency for corrective action. They want to know how much money I made in the last 15 months since my firing so they can subtract it from my back pay as part of the corrective action. Is this legal? The OSC said that this was a new law and I cannot find a thing about it. A: Yes, even though you were unlawfully retaliated against for your whistleblower activity,…

Q & A Session: Pay Adjustment

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Q: I had been working in the same position at the same duty station for ten years until my employer recently changed my duty station.  My new worksite is five miles away into the adjacent county that has locality adjustments.  Am I entitled to a pay adjustment?  It is a pay difference of $500/month. A: If you have changed locality areas, you should indeed receive a locality adjustment. Determining your locality pay is usually an easy three-step process because locality payments, special rate supplements, and cost-of-living adjustments are all determined according to where your official duty station is.  First, you…

Q & A Session: Equal Employment Opportunity complaint

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Q: Can a recently retired federal employee file an Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) complaint? A: Yes, for the purposes of filing a complaint, whether the complainant still works for the allegedly discriminatory agency, or not, is immaterial. EEOC regulations require only that the complainant contact the relevant EEO counselor within 45 days of the allegedly discriminatory act. In the case of a retired federal employee, the appropriate EEO counselor would be the counselor for the retiree’s former federal agency. This response is written by James P. Garay Heelan, associate attorney of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC. Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information…

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