Author Greg Rinckey

Throwing an office holiday party can be a welcome time to boost employee morale, but be mindful of the legal pitfalls that can lurk in the holiday cheer. From the punch bowl to the dance floor, liabilities exist for you as a federal supervisor, even if the event is held outside the workplace and the workday. Take precautions to prevent harassment at your party. Work with your agency’s human resources department to ensure that all employees are well versed in your agency’s anti-harassment policies before the party occurs. The key for you as a supervisor is to know that your…

Part of your job as a supervisor is to enforce sick leave policies and procedures. And sometimes, that means taking steps to ensure your employees don’t not to abuse this benefit. So here’s what you need to know. Full-time federal employees accrue sick leave at the rate of four hours per pay period — or 13 days annually. Federal employees can carry over unused sick leave from year to year and there is no limit on how much an employee can accumulate. An employee can take sick leave when he is ill or injured; to care for an injured or ill…

As a federal manager, you are on the front line in protecting your agency against equal employment opportunity complaints under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. To prevent discrimination in the workplace, you must understand what qualifies as an act of discrimination or harassment. The category causes the most confusion is discrimination based on national origin. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, national origin discrimination occurs when equal employment opportunities are denied to an individual based on the country where he or she was born or from which his or her ancestors came. More specifically, EEOC prohibits discrimination…

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 1999 has required agencies to offer alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to employees as a means to resolve both formal and informal EEO complaints. But ADR techniques are an option for nearly all types of workplace disputes. Agencies can use ADR in place of more formal litigation to resolve disputes. Authorized under the 1996 Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, ADR consists of a number of dispute-solving programs generally involving a neutral third party to help the conflicting parties find a mutually agreeable solution. The most commonly used form of ADR is mediation. Generally, a trained mediator…

Many federal managers are responsible for managing a workforce that consists of both federal employees and contractors. When this happens, federal managers typically have questions about just how much management authority they have over their contracted employees. When issues arise in the workplace, it can cause concern about the federal manager’s jurisdiction in managing the complaint — especially when it comes to employment discrimination complaints lodged by a contracted employee against a member of the federal workforce. The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) rules and regulations applicable to the federal workforce do not usually transfer to contracted employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity…

Getting a security clearance is not easy. The application process includes an extensive background investigation into the applicant’s personal life. One reason your clearance can be denied is drug involvement. If there are mitigating factors, however, you might still be able to obtain clearance. Under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, any person who is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, a controlled substance, as defined in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, may not be granted access to classified information. If your application is denied, you will be issued a notice that outlines the reasons for the decision and…

One of the most difficult decisions you make as a manager is to fire an employee. First, understand that the terms “termination” and “removal” do not mean the same thing. Removal is when an employee is separated as a result of adverse action procedures, because of problems such as poor performance, misconduct or the loss of a security clearance. Removals also extend to cases involving special circumstances, such as furlough or medical inability. Termination is attached to decisions involving probationary or trial-period employees, temporarily appointed employees, and employees removed due to background investigation determinations of negative suitability. Employees who are removed have appeal…

In previous columns, I have discussed actions a manager should take when an employee does something wrong. But how do you ensure employees do something right? Writing and communicating effective performance standards and plans for employees can go a long way in developing a stellar workforce. A well-structured performance plan outlines the expectations you have of a position. If an employee turns out to be a poor performer, his or her inability to live up to these standards protects your legal liability when adverse personnel action must be taken. There are basic legal guidelines to follow in developing performance standards and plans. The…

Federal employees filed 6,001 complaints of sex discrimination in 2007 under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, according to statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More than a third of the complaints, 2,224, came from men. Many people tend to be of the mind-set that sexual harassment is the only form of sex discrimination. Sexual harassment is only one form of sex discrimination. I prefer to use the terminology “gender discrimination” to refer to discrimination based on an employee’s status as a male or female. Gender discrimination does not have to involve sexual behavior. Any personnel decisions —…

As the federal workforce ages, managers must ensure their older employees are provided their rights. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees 40 and over from discrimination with respect to any term or condition of employment — including hiring, firing, promotion, compensation, benefits, job assignments and training. In essence, it prohibits all personnel decisions that are made on the basis of an improper consideration of the individual’s age. To make a claim of age discrimination, an employee must be 40 years or older, have received an adverse personnel action, and be able to demonstrate a causal connection between…

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