Unlike many other workers, federal employees have their own rules and guidelines when it comes to filing complaints about discrimination or harassment in the workplace. If you or someone you know is a federal employee and is facing these issues, you need an experienced Maryland employment law attorney who understands the intricacies of federal employee complaints. At HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP our team of dedicated legal professionals is prepared to advocate on your behalf. Call or contact our Baltimore office today to learn more.
Equal Employment Opportunity Appeals
Federal employees have the same right as others to work in a discrimination and harassment-free workplace. Discrimination occurs if an employee is harassed or subjected to an adverse employment action due to their actual or perceived belonging to a protected class. Protected classes include race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, pregnancy status, and more. Federal employees are also protected from retaliation if they complain about discrimination in the workplace, support others being discriminated against at work, or participate in an investigation into discriminatory practices.
If a federal employee wishes to file a claim of discrimination, they go through a different process than other workers by filing an Equal Employment Opportunity claim. An experienced employment lawyer can help facilitate this process and ensure that your claim is protected. This process begins by filing the claim with the EEO officer within the employee’s federal agency. If the issue is not resolved at this step, the next step involves receiving a Notice of Right to File a Formal Complaint, and if a formal complaint is filed, the EEO will launch an investigation. At the end of the investigation the employee can either ask for a decision based on that report or go in front of an EEOC administrative judge. If the result of either is unsatisfactory, the employee can file the case in federal court.
Merit Systems Protection Board Appeals
Unlike issues of discrimination in the workplace, if a federal employee is facing adverse employment actions at work the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) hears those cases. The MSPB hears appeals of adverse employment actions such as reductions in pay or grade, suspension, and termination of federal employees if they meet certain criteria. Adverse employment actions heard by the MSPB include the following:
- Claims under the USERRA
- Unfavorable determination on disability or retirement benefits
- Unfavorable determination of suitability
- Involuntary transfer
- Involuntary retirement
- Furloughs less than 30 days
- Denial of promotion in grade or salary
- Reductions in grade or salary
- Suspensions more than 14 days
- Removal from service
To learn more about the process of appealing a claim to the MSPB, talk to one of our knowledgeable Maryland employment attorneys today.
Hatch Act Claims
With the exception of the President and Vice President, all executive branch federal employees are subject to the Hatch Act of 1939, which prohibits certain types of political activity. Even part-time federal employees are covered by this law and continue to be covered while on sick leave, annual leave, leave without pay, and furlough. While all federal employees are allowed to register, vote, and donate to campaigns, the extent of the prohibited activity is determined by whether an employee is considered less restricted or further restricted under the law.
Most federal employees are considered less restricted under the Hatch Act and are allowed to participate in partisan political campaigns and management while not on the job, at the office, or representing themselves as federal employees. However, they are not allowed to do the following:
- Use their official authority, title, or position to influence an election
- Use their title while engaging in political activity
- Invite subordinates to political events or activity
- Solicit, accept, or receive a donation for a partisan political party, candidate, or political group
- Be a candidate for partisan political office, or
- Engage in political activity while on the job, in the office, wearing a uniform, or in any federal building
Further restricted federal employees are typically employed in intelligence agencies and enforcement agencies, and they are not allowed to engage in any partisan political management or campaigns. They are allowed to assist in nonpartisan voter registration drives, attend political functions or meetings, and be a candidate for public office in a nonpartisan election. However, they are prohibited from participating in the following:
- Be a candidate in a partisan election
- Take an active role in political campaigns
- Take an active role in political management
- Use their authority to influence an election
- Solicit, accept, or receive a donation for a political party, candidate, or group, or
- Engage in any political activity while on duty, at the office, while wearing a uniform, or in any federal building
Penalties for violations of the Hatch Act can be severe. Punishment for conviction under the Hatch Act include removal from federal service, reduction in grade, debarment from federal employment up to five years, suspension, reprimand, and fines up to $1,000.
TSA Employee Rights
Unlike other federal employees, workers for the TSA operate under a slightly different set of rules. While most federal employees take their claims of adverse employment actions to the MSPB, workers for the TSA generally take their claims to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Adverse employment claims reviewed by the OPR for TSA employees include the following:
- Workforce reductions
- Termination, and other adverse actions
However, TSA employees with whistleblower claims do take their cases to MSPB instead of the agency’s internal systems. With such complex and complicated rules for TSA employees, it is critical that you hire an experienced employment law attorney to assist with your claims and ensure that your case is handled properly.
Call or Contact HKM Now
Are you a federal employee working in the Baltimore area and facing adverse employment actions in the workplace? The knowledgeable employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP are here to zealously advocate on your behalf. To learn more about your legal options and how our firm can help, call the office or contact us today to schedule a consultation of your case.