As a federal employee, you have powerful rights under federal anti-discrimination laws. If you are facing any type of discrimination, retaliation, or other unlawful employment action as a federal employee, it is crucial that you understand your rights. Under federal law, government whistleblowers are protected from retaliation for reporting waste, fraud, abuse, and discrimination.
Federal employers cannot discriminate against employees or take adverse action against them because of their membership in a protected class. Federal employees have a right to be paid the full and fair amount of compensation required under federal law. Federal employees often try to navigate multi-tiered systems alone, but it can be challenging. Being a federal employee comes with unique challenges that employees in the private sector may not face.
For example, federal employees are required to follow special procedures. These procedures have different deadlines and administrative requirements than workers in the private sector. Employment-based claims have to pass through specific, defined channels. Decisions are rendered at various stages by the agency the employee works for or a body such as the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
When Should Federal Employees Hire an Employment Attorney
It is not an exaggeration to say that hiring an attorney could help you save your career as a federal employee. Consulting with a skilled federal employment attorney is the first step toward protecting your rights. If you find yourself in any of the following situations, it is well worth your time to discuss your case with an attorney so you can understand your legal options:
- A federal employee has suffered discrimination because of national origin, race, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, pregnancy, age, disability, or another protected characteristic.
- A federal employee has been retaliated against after acting as a whistleblower who spoke up about the agency’s waste, abuse, or fraud.
- A federal employee has been unfairly investigated, disciplined, had adverse action taken against them, or removed from a position.
- An employee’s government career or retirement benefits are in danger because of discrimination, bias, or retaliation.
Fighting for the Rights of Federal Employees
HKM Employment Attorneys have decades of experience representing federal employees in a wide range of cases. We represent federal employees in discrimination, whistleblowing, retaliation, and harassment claims. Our attorneys frequently argue cases on behalf of clients before the EEOC, MSPB, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), various Offices of the Inspector General (OIG), and federal courts. We have successfully won default judgments against government agencies for failing to properly respond to employees’ complaints.
What Workplace Rights Do Federal Employees Enjoy?
Federal employees are entitled to the same basic rights as other employees, which include the following:
- Non-discrimination: Employees have a right to be free from discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, color, sex, National origin, age, disability, or genetic information.
- Retaliation protection: employers have a right to file a complaint or participate in an investigation or lawsuit related to discrimination or other workplace injustices without experiencing retaliation from their employer.
- Equal pay: Federal law requires that employees receive equal pay for performing the same type of work, regardless of gender or other protected categories.
- Reasonable accommodations: Employees with medical conditions or religious beliefs that can conflict with workplace policy have a right to reasonable accommodations, provided they don’t impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Federal employees have more rights than many private sector employees. Most private sector employees work on an at-will basis, in which the employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship for any reason that doesn’t violate federal law. Federal employees are not at will they have the right to challenge certain types of personal actions, including termination of their employment.
Federal government employees may benefit from the fact that the US president is their boss and offers them protections that Congress might not approve for all workers. Certain laws, such as the Whistleblower Protection Act, have been specifically written to protect federal workers and may offer clear rights than those available to private sector employees.
Pursuing a Federal Employment Claim as a Federal Employee
As with all legal claims, deadlines in federal employment cases are crucial. Deadlines are stringent for government service. An employee who doesn’t challenge a demotion or suspension can hurt their entire career. For federal employees, the deadlines for employment claims are often much shorter than those in the private sector. Some deadlines are as short as 30 or 45 days. Do not delay contacting an attorney if you believe you have suffered wrongdoing. If you do, you may lose your opportunity to pursue a claim.
Compensation and Remedies Available By Pursuing an Employment Claim
When federal employees win a discrimination, harassment, or retaliation claim, they may be entitled to reinstatement. For example, suppose an employee was fired for an unlawful reason and succeeded in an employment claim. In that case, the employer may be required to reinstate the employee to the position from which they have been wrongly removed.
Employees may be able to receive an adjustment of their classification or age change in duties or location. Employees can also recover compensation for the harm they suffered to their careers and back pay for the pay they did not receive when they were terminated from their position. Finally, employees can recover attorneys’ fees and costs.
Discuss Your Case With a Federal Employment Attorney
There are many factors to consider when deciding which rights you have and should protect as a federal employee. HKM Employment Attorneys has helped many federal employees in Riverside County protect their rights. We will carefully investigate your case and help you understand your legal options so you can make informed decisions.
The nuances and exceptions for federal employment laws can be complex and challenging to understand. We will help you understand the process of pursuing a claim and guide you through it step by step. Contact HKM Employment Attorneys to schedule a consultation and learn more about your rights.