Employment laws apply to both the public and private sectors. No matter who issues your paycheck, you have the right to fair pay, job-protected temporary leaves of absence from work for medical or family caregiving reasons, and freedom from discrimination and harassment at work. In some respects, though, federal jobs stand head and shoulders above the rest. You might not have the most interesting-sounding job, but watch all the party guests stand spellbound when you tell them about the job stability, retirement pension, and family leave benefits that you get with your federal job. Unfair treatment at work can happen to anyone, though, regardless of whether you work for a Fortune 500 company, a mom-and-pop small business, or a federal agency. The San Francisco federal employees lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can help employees of federal agencies exercise the rights afforded to them by employment laws.
Employment Contracts for Federal Employees in San Francisco
Applying for a federal job is a lot of work, but it is completely worth it once you receive the lucrative job offer you have been hoping for. The job application and hiring process in the federal sector is detailed, to say the least. The career counseling office at your college may have told you that prospective employers cannot be bothered to read a resume that is more than two pages long, but resumes for federal jobs can exceed ten pages. Uncle Sam wants to know about every professional and semi-professional activity in which you have ever engaged.
Likewise, it is always a good idea to read the fine print in an employment contract, but the employment contracts for federal jobs are especially replete with fine print. When a federal agency offers you an employment contract, it is helpful to seek the guidance of a San Francisco employment lawyer during the contract negotiation process. These are some aspects of the contract that you should discuss with your lawyer:
- Dispute resolution procedures related to the contract
- Clauses related to confidentiality
- Benefits such as paid time off
- Force majeure clauses, which protect you and your employer from litigation if you cannot fulfill your contractual obligations because of a natural disaster or other majorly disruptive event
A San Francisco employment contract lawyer can help you understand your rights and the implications of the provisions of your contract.
Employment Discrimination in the Federal Sector in San Francisco
Federal laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have laid the groundwork for today’s legal protections against employment discrimination. It is against the law for employers to discriminate against employees or job applications based on a protected characteristic of the employee. Protected characteristics include race, religion, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, pregnancy, and disability.
If the employer’s adverse actions against the employee are due to a protected characteristic as opposed to poor job performance or misconduct, then the employer’s actions are considered discriminatory. Adverse actions include a hostile work environment, excessive scrutiny of your work, unfairly negative performance reviews, undesired transfers of duties or work location, reduction of pay, denial of promotions or raises, or termination of employment. There are two sides to every story, and you may be able to support your claims that your protected characteristic is the only plausible motivation for the employer’s conduct, while the employer may be able to support its claims that it was justified in taking the adverse action. As in many disagreements, it is up to a judge to decide.
In an employment discrimination claim, you cannot simply go to court and file a lawsuit against your employer. First, you must contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The deadline for contacting an EEOC counselor about your discrimination claim is 45 days after the discriminatory action. Therefore, you should contact a San Francisco employment discrimination lawyer even sooner than that. The EEOC must investigate your complaint to see whether it considers your claims credible; it may even find out that you are not the only person in your workplace who has experienced discrimination. After the investigation, the EEOC will contact you with its decision about whether you may proceed with the lawsuit.
The Merit Systems Protection Board
All employees have recourse to the EEOC in the event of employment discrimination, but some categories of federal employees also have recourse to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB investigates claims of mistreatment by federal employers, even if that mistreatment does not fit the definition of discrimination of the sort that would warrant a complaint to the EEOC. Employees eligible to deal with the MSPB include some employees of the U.S. postal service, most military veterans in civilian federal jobs (they must work at the same civilian job for one year before becoming MSPB eligible), and most civil service employees working for the executive branch of the federal government.
Reporting Misconduct at a Federal Agency in San Francisco
Some federal agencies, such as OSHA, the EEOC, and federal law enforcement agencies, are in the business of receiving reports about unsafe, unethical, or illegal actions by employers. If you witness misconduct by your work supervisors or coworkers at a federal job, you also have the right to report the misconduct to the relevant authorities. Reporting misconduct by your employer is a legally protected activity. If your employer fires you or otherwise takes adverse action against you because you reported the misconduct, then this is employer retaliation, which is illegal. If you are a federal employee and you have witnessed misconduct by decision-makers at your workplace, it is a good idea to seek the guidance of a San Francisco whistleblower claims lawyer as you report the misconduct.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Federal Employees
The San Francisco employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can help federal employees resolve disputes with their employers and navigate employment laws related to discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in San Francisco, California, to set up a consultation.