Ask The Lawyer

By Debra Roth

Q & A Session – NSPS to GS Conversion

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I was promoted from a GS-07 position to an NSPS position. Upon conversion from NSPS to GS, I was given a GS-09 position in September 2010. In October 2011, I was notified by my supervisor that I had been erroneously converted to the GS-09, and steps would be taken to revert me back to a GS-07 position. This caused me to incur a debt which has been ongoing. To date, I have not been reverted to the GS-07 and continue to carry out the same duties I have done all along on my GS-09 position. Do I have grounds to contest the downgrade? And who should I talk to?

A:

Nothing has happened yet. And, when it does, you may have a Merit Systems Protection Board appeal or Equal Employment Opportunity claim, but you do not provide information to assess the viability of those options. I don’t understand what debt you are incurring if you have not been demoted, and, if you are, you should be entitled to at least saved pay.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Q & A Session – Administrative Time?

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I am a registered dental hygienist. Civilians in my group were recently required to complete a 7-hour training. I am in direct patient care for eight hours every day and my management will not adjust my patient workload to accommodate the training. In the two months since we received notification that we had to complete the training, I have managed to find some time during training days and staff meetings, but due to website glitches was only able to get halfway through the training modules. Other civilian providers worked up to four hours over the duty day to complete with no compensation, but I cannot do that.

Now, the deadline to complete the training has passed and I believe management is punishing me by denying my TDY for a required conference because I have not completed the training. With all the computer training that is required of us, is it required for management to give us scheduled administrative time for this?

A:

It is not administrative time. It’s part of your job. You and your management should find a way for you to complete the training. If you can get off to attend a conference, there has to be a way to do other required training. Failure to complete can be used to deny other training.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Q & A Session – Involuntary Reassignment

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I have worked outside my GG-13 080 Security series (supervisory) for eight years and performed 1101 Program Management (supervisory) work during this time. I don’t have an 1101 coded position because I was told there were no billets. Our Directorate is not reorganizing and I am being asked to step down from my position with responsibilities that include supervising five civilians and program management of a 220M contract. For my new position, I am being asked to transfer into a different division, apply and compete for a GS-13 “non-supervisory” 1101 position and manage a low level project. Is there any obligation to provide me with an equivalent position/responsibilities? What are my options?

A:

No. Management can reassign you as long as it does not reduce your pay. It cannot make you apply for a job you do not want. The optics differences between an involuntary reassignment out of supervision and your voluntary application for that position are significant.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Q & A Session – Threats

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

After getting to my third level manager, I recorded him saying that if I continued up the chain of command, I would pay dearly and that he would make it happen over and over. After being sent 50 pages of information and supporting documents, the Office of Special Counsel did not want to hear the tape and rejected my case. Is there another route?

A:

There is not enough information to answer your question. If you recorded your third level management surreptitiously, I understand why OSC did not want to hear the tape. Federal employees have been successfully fined for similar actions. You do not say what kind of prohibited personnel practice you were complaining about. Whistleblower and some other reprisals can be pursued further by a federal employee to the Merit Systems Protection Board. On other types of prohibited personnel practices, OSC does have the final word.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Q & A Session – Viability of EEO Complaint Following Allegations of Injustice

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I am a federal GS-9 Criminal Investigator. I am leaving my current position because I was told by my boss that a GS-11 position would not be offered in my series, let alone a GS-12. Now that I have accepted a new position at another federal facility, I have been told the GS-11 Criminal Investigator position will be posted as soon as I leave. I know he is considering promoting a younger person to the GS-11 position that has been loyal to him for more years than I have been working for him and I am under the impression that this fits an EEO complaint, besides presenting a lack of integrity. Is there anything I can do?

A:

I cannot comment on the merits of your claim. I would note that once you leave to accept a promotion, it becomes a very practical difficulty to pursue your allegations of injustice at your old agency.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Q & A Session – Federal Disability

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

In our Post Office alone there are at least three employees receiving disability from the military. One carrier receives 100 percent, a clerk 80 percent and another carrier 30 percent.

If someone is deemed 100 percent disabled by the federal government and is receiving 100 percent disability pay, how are they permitted to work full time, on the overtime desired list, working the physically demanding job of a letter carrier?

A:

It depends on the disability. Many disabled persons are able to work quite effectively, particularly if they receive reasonable accommodations for their disabilities.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Q & A Session – LWOP Question

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I am a military spouse and a federal employee with one year of service. My husband received PCS orders to a different area and I am moving with him. My agency will have a vacancy in the new area but it is only a GS-06 and I am currently a GS-08. I don’t want to transfer into that position because I lose my preference if I take it and I don’t feel it’s comparable. My director is requesting denial of my LWOP request because she wants to fill my position since I won’t take the transfer. Do I have any options?

A:

You can stay home and keep your current job. Or, you can take the downgrade (or no job) and go on the PCS. LWOP is at the discretion of management.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Q & A Session – Working for Foreign Defense Contractors

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

Suppose someone works for the Department of Defense with a secret clearance. Upon retirement he would like to move to another NATO country and work for a defense contractor. What legal and/or clearance issues does this raise?

A:

The defense contractor will understand the security requirements and be able to advise you. Sometimes it is sufficient for you to work at the “secret” level with an American clearance. Sometimes more is required. Ask your potential employer what you need. It may be just a matter of being processed for another clearance level.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Q & A Session – Disciplinary Action

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I was stopped for a speeding violation and then arrested for a DUI. I called my supervisor 9.5 hours prior to my scheduled tour the next morning. I received an admonishment before I went to court. I subsequently had the charges dismissed. If I take the admonishment to arbitration under a collective bargaining agreement with my union, will I have any chance of having the admonishment removed? I have no other disciplinary actions on my record and a good 10-year record of fully satisfactory evaluations.

A:

First, you have to ask your union whether you have a realistic chance of it invoking arbitration for an admonishment. Arbitration is expensive and your union has discretion whether to invoke arbitration. You do, of course, have a grievance procedure where your issue can be raised. I cannot comment on your chances since I don’t know all the facts.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Q & A Session – Award Money

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

Our agency has not given out our award money since October 2011, which is a clear violation of our contract which states that the award money should be paid expeditiously. The union alleges that the money has been allocated but not dispersed to the employees. Where can I file my complaint on this clear violation of our contract?

A:

Your union files the complaint. If they think the collective bargaining agreement has been violated, it can file a grievance. However, these are tough times for federal employees and agencies and there may just be no award money.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.