There are plenty of reasons that being a federal employee is a dream job. The retirement pensions and generous health insurance benefits make it completely worth the effort it takes to fill out the world’s longest job applications in pursuit of a federal job. As a federal employee, you know the secret language of three-letter acronyms (or TLAs, to those in the know) that private sector employees do not experience. Of course, working for the federal government does not mean working in a utopian environment. Discrimination and contract disputes can happen to federal employees just as they can to people with any other kind of job. If you are a federal employee who is being mistreated at work or if you have questions about aspects of employment law specific to federal employees, contact the Irvine federal sector employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP.
Employment Discrimination in the Federal Sector
Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination apply to employees in the federal sector, as well as state and municipal employees and those working for private companies. It is against the law for any employer, including a federal agency to discriminate against employees based on protected characteristics of the employee. These are some examples of protected characteristics:
- Race, ethnicity, skin color, hair texture, or national origin
- Religion or lack of religious belief
- Age, if the employee is at least 40 years old
- Sex, gender identity, gender presentation, or sexual orientation
- Marital status, family status, or pregnancy
It is considered discrimination if an employer takes an adverse action against an employee based on a protected characteristic. Examples of protected actions include refusal to hire, termination of employment, assignment to undesirable job duties, harassment, denial of raises or promotions, unfair scrutiny, and unfairly negative performance reviews. Likewise, it is against the law for federal employers, or any employers, to retaliate against employees for participating in any of the following protected activities:
- Complaining about discrimination
- Reporting misconduct by employees of the federal agency to a supervisory within the agency or to the relevant regulatory body, such as reporting safety hazards to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim for a work injury or occupational illness
- Requesting reasonable accommodations for a disability (such as requesting a wheelchair-accessible office desk) or for religious reasons (such as asking to miss work on a religious holiday that is not a federal holiday)
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Filing a qui tam action pursuant to the federal False Claims Act
- Participating in an investigation into crimes, misconduct, or discrimination in the workplace
If you experience discrimination in your workplace at a federal agency, your first action should be to document every instance of discrimination you can. Then you should contact the Irvine employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP. Your lawyer will help you through the process of working with an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor, which is a prerequisite to filing an employment discrimination lawsuit. Your lawyer can continue to advise you if your case requires litigation.
Resolving Disputes With the Merit Systems Protection Board in Irvine
If you were unfairly fired or denied a promotion or raise, and you do not have evidence that the employer’s motivation for taking the adverse action was discrimination based on a protected characteristic, the best way to resolve the dispute may be to deal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB deals with most members of the competitive service and excepted service, as well as U.S. Postal Service employees in supervisory or managerial roles and military veterans in federal civilian jobs.
The MSPB deals with complaints relating to the following adverse actions:
- Termination of employment
- Denial of pay raises
- Unpaid furloughs of 30 days or less
- Demotions and reductions in pay
- Involuntary retirement
- Involuntary reassignment of job duties
- Unfavorable decisions about suitability, disability, and retirement eligibility
Were You Unfairly Denied a Security Clearance in Irvine?
The screening process for federal jobs, even entry level positions, is already notoriously rigorous. The jobs that pay the best are the ones that require the employee to work with sensitive, confidential information, and these jobs require a security clearance. The more decision-making authority the job involves, and the more money and confidential information the employee will be required to access at work, the higher the level of security clearance the job requires. Getting a security clearance requires an extensive background check. If you believe that the denial of your security clearance was unfair, contact the Irvine employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
Whistleblower Protections for Federal Employees in Irvine
A whistleblower is an employee who reports misconduct at their place of employment, by reporting the misconduct to law enforcement or to regulatory bodies. If you are certain that your employer is harming or endangering the public or stealing public funds, then reporting the misconduct is the right thing to do. Whistleblower actions count as protected actions, which means that it is against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting misconduct at your workplace. In practice, things often get ugly once a whistleblower reveals the truth. If you are a federal employee and have witnessed misconduct at work, contact the Irvine employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
Federal Employees and the Hatch Act
The Hatch Act prohibits unfair political activity by federal employees, such as using their authority to influence elections, solicit political contributions, and suppress the political activities of others. If you violate the Hatch Act, you could be immediately and permanently barred from federal jobs. If you are accused of a Hatch Act violation, you need an employment lawyer to represent you and help you stand up for your rights.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Federal Employment in Irvine
Whether you work for Uncle Sam, a startup, or a mom-and-pop business, you have rights as an employee. HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP represents federal employees, as well as state, municipal, county, and private sector employees, in disputes with their employers. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Irvine, California to set up a consultation.