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How Federal Employment Lawyers Protect Federal Employees’ Futures

— July 27, 2021

No one should have to work through debilitating illnesses or injuries because they are unsure of their eligibility to receive OPM disability retirement.

As a federal employee, your employment entitles you to certain protections. Regardless of which federal agency you work for, if experiencing discrimination, harassment, unfair treatment, disputes regarding benefits, and other issues, a federal employment attorney works to preserve your rights. Federal employment lawyers protect federal employees’ futures through knowledge of federal laws and federal agency rules, regulations, policies and operations. 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

As a federal employee, you are entitled to protection from discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) possesses a duty to enforce federal laws protecting federal employees from discrimination at work. As a federal employee, you are protected from discrimination based on the following: 

  • Sex,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Religion, 
  • Race,
  • Color, 
  • National origin, 
  • Retaliation against complaints of discrimination, 
  • Pregnancy, 
  • Disability, 
  • Age, and
  • Genetic information.

If you believe a federal agency, through management actions or inactions, discriminated against you as a result of one of the bases above, you may file an EEO complaint with that agency. You must file your charge within 45 calendar days from the date of discrimination. Filing with the EEOC represents a complicated and time-consuming process, and can take several years to receive the results of your claim. However, this should not deter you from filing a claim if you experienced discrimination at work, especially as many cases are settled early on in the process.

Image of a discrimination graphic
Discrimination graphic; image courtesy of
arnoldus via Pixabay, www.

Merit Systems Protection Board 

The Merit Systems Protection Board or MSPB is a federal agency protecting the federal merit systems and the rights of individuals within those systems. The MSPB operated as an appeals board allowing federal employees to challenge unfavorable decisions made by their employing agency. The federal merit system for federal employees ensures fair and open recruitment, competition, and employment practices free from political influence or other factors unrelated to merit. The MSPB typically provides hearings in matters including: 

  • Suspensions of 15 days or more, 
  • Terminations, 
  • Demotions, 
  • Whistleblower retaliation, and
  • Pay reductions.

MSPB appeals move quickly and often reach a resolution within 120 to 160 days. However, to file an appeal in most cases, you must do so within 30 calendar days after you receive notice of the decision with which you disagree. There are some exceptions, such as the 65-day deadline after receiving a final decision on a charge of whistleblower retaliation with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), or a 10-day deadline for VA employees removed or suspended under 38 USC § 714. Federal employment lawyers focused on MSPB issues protect federal employees and their careers from their employing federal agency using arbitrary or politically motivated conduct against them. 

Disability Retirement 

Some federal employees suffer from disabilities rendering them unable to work their current job. A federal employment lawyer can assist these employees in determining their disability retirement eligibility under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) operates federal disability retirement and provides federal employees the following benefits: 

  • Monthly payments, 
  • Ongoing insurance contributions from the government, and
  • Eligibility to take a new job and earn up to about 80% of your prior salary for the new position. 

Federal employment lawyers assist federal employees in determining their eligibility to receive OPM disability retirement. To be eligible, you must be: 

  • A federal employee, 
  • Have provided 18 months of creditable service under FERS, 
  • Be unable to perform some of the essential functions of your position of record, and
  • Cannot be accommodated, either in your position or through reassignment. 

No one should have to work through debilitating illnesses or injuries because they are unsure of their eligibility to receive OPM disability retirement. The OPM determines a federal employee’s eligibility for disability retirement. The process is complex and may take up to one year for the OPM to review all documents submitted related to your claim. Therefore, retaining a federal employment lawyer may increase your chances of receiving approval of your claim. 

How a Federal Employment Lawyer Can Help 

This guide provides an overview of how federal employment lawyers protect federal employees. This is not a complete list; a federal employment lawyer can provide assistance to federal employees on a number of employment-related issues. If you believe you have a claim against a federal agency through your employment, consider contacting a federal employment attorney to help you with your claim or appeal. 

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