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Government Employees: Federal Civilian Employees - Part One

As a federal civilian employee, your job is arguably more protected than your private-employee counterpart. If a co-worker or member of management acts inappropriately, unethically or illegally in the workplace, 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. In this series, we will look at potential claims and the options that may be available to resolve them.

Your first step in resolving employment issues as a federal civilian employee will typically be to contact Human Resources (HRO) or upper management. Sometimes, however, these avenues of help fall short. Do not despair; there are additional alternatives:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws against discrimination based on an employee's or applicant's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information; or against someone based on their having complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

The Merit Systems Protection Board hears claims concerning certain adverse actions taken against an employee - typically a long-term suspension, demotion or termination of employment. MSPB appeals can also include whistle-blower claims based on retaliatory actions taken against them by their federal employer, and discrimination claims, assuming certain criteria are met.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority handles claims regarding union representation, including those of unfair labor practices and exceptions to arbitration awards.

The Office of Personnel Management is authorized to hear certain types of inquiries by employees who seek advice on personnel matters such as staffing, employment, examinations, retirement, or benefits.

The Office of Special Counsel 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.

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.

As you can see, the paths toward resolution of employment problems as a federal civilian employee can be numerous and complex. Some problems may benefit from a combination of approaches. It can be beneficial for you to thoroughly research your options with the help of experienced employment law counsel. If such a need arises, seek legal counsel before electing to pursue a particular course of action, to avoid going down the wrong path. Look for our next posting in this series: Claims Involving Discrimination, Harassment and Reprisal.

Contact Freeland Law APC for a free 30-minute consultation with Michael Freeland, experienced employment lawyer serving San Diego, California.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.