Legal Alternatives For Civilian Navy employees

Resolving Problems in the Workplace

By Michael M. Freeland, esq.,
Freeland Law APC, 2012

As a federal civilian employee, your job is more protected than your private counterpart. If a co-worker or member of management acts inappropriately, unethically or illegally, there are a variety of resources to which you can turn to resolve such problems. In fact, the greater challenge can be in deciding which of the many resolution paths to follow to achieve your goals. Below is a description of possible problems and possible options to resolve them.

Your first stop in resolving employment issues will typically be to contact Human Resources (HRO) or upper management. Sometimes, however, these avenues of help fall short. Do not despair; consider these additional alternatives:

Claims of Discrimination, Harassment and Reprisal - Discrimination and harassment claims must be based on the fact that you are a member of a protected class (relating to your race, age, disability, gender, etc.). Reprisal claims involve improper conduct taken against you for having complained of such discrimination and/or harassment. All three of these claims can be handled through the federal EEO process. Your first step on this path is typically to contact your local EEO counselor to discuss your claim. For further information, the EEOC website can be found at: http://www.eeoc.gov/.

Claims Involving Termination, Demotion or Long Term Suspension- Typically, if you are not a probationary employee and have completed one year of continuous federal service, the MSPB can be an avenue for recovery where your claim concerns an adverse action taken against you - typically a long term suspension, demotion or termination of employment. MSPB appeals can also include claims by A whistle-blowers based on retaliatory actions taken against them by their federal employer. MSPB appeals can also include discrimination and harassment type claims, assuming certain criteria is met. A direct request to appeal though the MSPB must be made quickly, however, usually within 30 days of the effective date of the adverse action.@ A federal employee can contact the MSPB directly to request the appeal. The MSPB website can be found at: http://www.mspb.gov/.

Claims Regarding Your Union Representation - Allegations of unfair labor practices and exceptions to arbitration awards are within the jurisdiction of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). The Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS) creates rights and obligations on the part of unions, agency management, and employees. Employees may protect their rights under the FSLMRS by filing Unfair Labor Practice (AULP@) charges against labor or management. The FLRA website can be found at http://www.flra.gov/.

Advice on Personnel Matters - The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has the authority to hear certain types of inquiries by employees who seek advice on personnel matters such as staffing, employment, examinations, retirement, or benefits. The OPM website can be found at: http://www.opm.gov/ .

Violations of Civil Service Laws - The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has authority to hear allegations of certain civil service violations. Current and former federal employees and applicants for federal employment may report suspected prohibited personnel practices directly to the OSC. There are twelve prohibited personnel practices, including reprisal for whistleblowing, which are defined by law at ' 2302(b) of title 5 of the United States Code (U.S.C.). The OSC website can be found at: http://www.osc.gov/.

Suspected Fraud, Abuse of Power, & Ethics Violations - The Naval Inspector General responds to complaints of fraud, ethical violations, conflicts of interest, abuse of power, etc. The Navy IG maintains a hotline complaint system to receive such complaints from civilian employees who have been unable to resolve such issues after complaint to their command. The Navy IG website can be found at: http://www.ig.navy.mil/.

As you can see, the paths toward resolution of problems are numerous (the above list does not include all) and some problems may benefit by a combination of approaches. It is essential that you choose the right path at the right time for your problem and situation by thoroughly researching your options before electing to pursue a particular a course of action.

This article is not intended to provide legal opinion or advice. If you have any questions regarding employment law or on the issues raised in this article, contact attorney Michael Freeland of Freeland Law APC at mfreeland@freeland-law.com