TEST YOURSELF- FMLA, DISABILITIES, AND LIGHT DUTY
An employee, Jessie Crutch, had a long-time reasonable accommodation of being allowed to rest his hip for a few minutes every few hours while working as a warehouse custodian. As the injury got worse and management less tolerant of his need to sit for a few times a day, he started to take time off using his FMLA rights to rest his hip. When he returned after two days of FMLA leave, he submitted the same medical documentation he always did, namely that he could perform all his duties but needed intermittent periods to sit. However, his supervisor informed him that he would not be permitted to work again until he either submitted new medical documentation certifying that he no longer needed to rest his hip during the work day or he submitted a formal request for light duty. So, Crutch went home. While a sad situation for Crutch, are there any violations of law and regulation here? Continue reading
WHAT IS FRONT PAY?
Let’s say that you are representing a terminated employee and realize three things about his/her situation. First, the job the employee held before being fired no longer exists. Second, even if you get the employee reinstated, it is going to be a terrible situation because the same supervisors and managers who fired him/her are still there and clearly do not like the employee; nor does the employee want to work with them again. Third, one of your grievance claims is that the employee was fired in violation of the Civil Rights acts. If the only remedies you request are that the employee be reinstated and given back pay with interest, what other remedy option are you missing? Continue reading
THE CIVILIAN PERSONNEL LAW MANUALS
Long ago, the General Accounting (Accountability) Office had the job of deciding what the various federal sector personnel laws meant. While Arbitrators, OPM and others have taken over that work today, the GAO decisions can help a union rep researching a case. GAO issued four Civilian Personnel Law Manuals before it left the business which summarized their decisions. There is an individual manual for each of the following topics: Compensation, Leave, Travel and Relocation. Even if you do not have an active case needing research, but you do have a few spare minutes, we recommend that you read at least the first two manuals. You will be surprised at all the questions they will answer and the gaps in your understanding of the federal sector they will fill.
LABOR’S VERY BIG BLUNDER (The AFL-ABA-CIO)
Organized labor has been shrinking in numbers and influence for over 60 years. There are a lot of reasons: well-funded enemies, relentless lawlessness by many employers, a toothless labor law, foreign competition for jobs, automation, some public image disasters, poor business practices, etc. But at least as harmful as any of them was labor’s own decision to give away it most valuable asset, namely its right to exclusively represent employees in all employment-related matters, not just contract matters. Continue reading
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held unanimously recently that firing a woman because she is lactating or expressing milk is unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978). Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to protect working women against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. Check out the EEOC press release and watch for this form of discrimination in any personnel action, e.g., performance appraisal, promotions, assignments, etc.
OUR FAVORITE APPROPRIATE ARRANGEMENT PROPOSALS (Pt. 3 – Union Needs)
Unions and their reps can be just as impacted by a proposed agency management rights change as any other bargaining unit employees. Consequently, the FLRA allows unions to make bargaining proposals to lessen the impact on them as well. Here are a few of our favorites. Continue reading
ACCOMMODATING ALMOST EVERY TIME IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH
Not long ago the Dept. of Defense tried to defend itself against an allegation that it had failed to provide a deaf employee a reasonable accommodation by pointing out that it had done so 11 out of 15 times the employee asked during the period in question. But complying with the law 73% of the time is not a defense, and the EEOC told DOD to figure out how much of a check to give the employee as compensation for the harm done. Continue reading
WHEN AGENCIES LIE IN SETTLEMENT TALKS
Here are the facts that MSPB recently faced. Two employees got into a fight at the workplace and were fired. As their MSPB appeal hearings grew closer, the agency made settlement offers and one employee agreed to drop her appeal and leave if the agency changed her removal to a resignation. She contends that the agency assured her that it was not (and would not) offer the other employee in the fight reinstatement. But it turned out that it did reinstate the other employee. Is the settlement valid? Continue reading
CANCER VICTIMS’ RIGHTS IN THE WORKPLACE
EEOC has just updated its Q&A about the rights cancer victims have in the workplace. Among the more relevant questions are 1- What other types of reasonable accommodations may employees with cancer need? 2- May an employer request documentation when an employee who has cancer requests a reasonable accommodation? and 3-When may an employer refuse to hire, terminate, or temporarily restrict the duties of a person who has or had cancer because of safety concerns? It is a must read if you are representing cancer sufferers. Check out Questions & Answers about Cancer in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
OUR FAVORITE APPROPRIATE ARRANGEMENT PROPOSALS (Pt. 2- Postponing Implementation)
When management finally notifies the union of a proposed midterm change it wishes to make pursuant to its 7106 management rights, it usually is very eager to implement it. Often, it is so eager that it will make concessions just to get the union’s agreement. Because the union typically has other many reasons for delaying implementation, a skilled union negotiator needs to know the variety of appropriate arrangement proposals FLRA has approved as negotiable that permit it to delay implementation of the change even after agreement is reached. Here are some of our favorites. Continue reading