Q & A Session: ADD Contributing to Tardiness

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Q: I was recently 57 minutes late to work. I thought I was scheduled at a different time than I was. I got suspended because it was my 3rd write up. The other two were over 6 months ago. My doctor is willing to write a letter and fill out paperwork because I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I really want to keep this job and I know I messed up. Do you think this is a valid argument? A: If you are asking whether you can argue that you should be afforded on hour of leave per the Family…

The new rules of enforced leave

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If you’re in an agency that places employees on forced leave, beware: The law has changed, and how the Merit Systems Protection Board will adjudicate an appeal of such actions has dramatically shifted. A Postal Service supervisor for customer services submitted a request to work on light-duty assignment. The employee’s supervisor denied her request on the grounds that, within the employee’s medical restrictions, there was no work available. The USPS then proposed and issued a final decision effecting the enforced leave action. The employee appealed the decision to the board, but an MSPB administrative judge dismissed the appeal finding that…

Q & A Session: Refunding Accidental Additional Money from an Agency

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Q: I received additional money in my paycheck. In my previous positions, it was not uncommon to receive awards without notification, so I assumed the additional money was a performance award. I have since been informed that it was an error and I need to repay the money. Am I responsible for someone else’s mistake? A: Yes, you must repay that money, regardless of whether or not you have already spent it.  It is not your money to keep.  You are only entitled to money or benefits from the government which are entitled to you by law.  You are not…

Q & A Session: Fighting Non-discrimination Based Unfair Treatment

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Q: How can you fight unfair treatment when it is not discrimination based? A: You could raise the issue with your supervisor. If your supervisor’s actions are what you find to be unfair, your agency’s grievance process may cover a grievance of unfair treatment. You would need to review your agency’s grievance procedures to see if your specific matter is covered. Also, depending on the unfair treatment, you could file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) if it involves a violation of the Civil Service Reform Act (prohibited personnel practices), the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act,…

Q & A Session: Rights When Suspect Favoritism

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Q: What are my rights if I suspect favoritism in the hiring process? A: You could file a complaint with either the agency’s inspector general or the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) if it involves prohibited personnel practices. For instance, OSC investigates prohibited personnel practices, including allegations that an agency official: requested or considered a recommendation based on political connections or influence; obstructed anyone from competing for employment; influenced anyone to withdraw from competition in order to improve or injure the employment prospects of any person; gave an unauthorized advantage in order to improve or injure the employment prospects of…

Q & A Session : Factors Considered for Proposed Disciplinary Action

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Q: I am a federal supervisor, who recently proposed a disciplinary action for an employee. My supervisor is the deciding official. Is the deciding official required to complete their own separate analysis? A: The Federal regulations outlining the procedures for taking disciplinary actions (defined as suspensions of 14 calendar days or less) and/or adverse actions (defined as suspensions of greater than 14 calendar days, removals, or reduction in pay or grade) against a Federal employee require that an agency, in arriving at its decision, “will consider only the reasons specified in the notice of the proposed action and any answer…

Q & A Session : On Reasonable Accommodation

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Q: I have a couple questions about reasonable accommodation. Can an agency create a position to accommodate? Also, can an agency accommodate by reassigning an employee to a detail (a position that does not exist)? From the research I have done it states that reassigning an employee must be to a “vacant funded position.” A: Your research is accurate. Agencies are given significant flexibility in providing reasonable accommodations to their employees. It is within an agency’s discretion whether to create a position for which to reassign an employee or to place an employee on detail (essentially a temporary reassignment to…

Speaking Publicly, Take Two

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A few months ago, I wrote on the topic of how most federal employees who are disciplined for publicly speaking out are found not to have a First Amendment protection on their speech. I also noted that a case was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court that might be a game changer. I’m back to report on the result. First, a refresher on the state of the law as it stood before the Supreme Court ruled last month. Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court recognized that public employees, like all citizens, enjoy a constitutionally protected interest in freedom of speech.…

Q & A Session : Becoming a Supervisor via Position Rewrite

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Q: Can a non-supervisory employee, who is not a member of the bargaining unit, become a permanent supervisor via a position description rewrite?  Is there any recourse to such a change? A: Yes, your employing Agency is generally free to assign you duties, including supervisory duties, in a fashion which best fits the Government’s needs.  You probably have very minimal recourse to contest such a change.  Although your employing Agency might allow you to file a grievance regarding a change to your position description or supervisory status, if management has already decided to move to a supervisory position, you may…

MSPB works through furlough appeals

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It’s been about one year from the furloughs of 2013, and the Merit Systems Protection Board is making progress processing the approximate 32,400 appeals it received. That’s right, 32,400 employee appeals challenging their furloughs. That number is jaw-dropping when you consider that the MSPB has been averaging about 8,500 appeals annually before furloughs. With a furlough docket of that size, it is worth acknowledging a furlough decision. In sum, no surprises. This board decision, Dye v. Department of the Army, involved a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) employee who was furloughed for six days from his cConstruction cControl position.…

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