RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATION, OVERTIME, AND SATURDAYS OFF FOR PROBATIONER

EEOC just decided a case in an employee’s favor because the agency made a technical mistake in how it considered overtime costs in deciding whether the employee’s request for Saturdays off would create an undue hardship. Practitioners on both sides of the table should remember that when overtime or similar costs of a requested accommodation are being considered there is a right way and a wrong way to do that. Technical errors lead to just as big a back pay check as substantive ones. Another interesting take away from this case is the fact that the employee waited a while after he was hired to declare he felt compelled by religious beliefs to take every Saturday off.  EEOC does not require the employee to have always held the same religious commitment. (The remainder of this post is taken almost verbatim from the very well-written EEOC decision.) Continue reading

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EEOC ORDERS DOJ TO GIVE EMPLOYEE MAXIFLEX SCHEDULE

All one need do to prove an illegal denial of a reasonable accommodation is show that: (1) she is an individual with a disability; (2) she is a qualified individual with a disability; and (3) the Agency failed to provide a reasonable accommodation. For example a DOJ employee had a sleeping disorder as a result of Major Depressive Disorder.  When the employee requested a reasonable accommodation, the Agency implemented a gliding schedule for Complainant. However, this was not an effective accommodation because Complainant still had to report to work between 8 am and 9:30 am. She could not do so 21 times in a 90 day period. So, the agency terminated her.  It did not want to allow her any flexibility after 9:30 am.  DOJ might have won this case because coming to work at a reasonably predictable time and during hours when co-workers are available is a pretty essential part of most jobs.  This employee was a Management & Program Analyst. But…, Continue reading

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FEMA EMPLOYEES MAY HAVE TO PAY BACK SOME OVERTIME PAY

Given our recent posting about federal employees having to repay compensation they received in violation of some statute or regulation—even if the error is only identified some six years later, we are passing along a story about a huge current liability some FEMA feds face through no fault of their own. While extra money is nice, it always pays to make sure it legal.

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AGENCY CAN BE ORDERED TO PAY EMPLOYEE INCOME TAXES

When the employer is ordered to give an employee a back pay lump sum amount, it can also be required to compensate the employee for any extra income taxes if the employer’s improper action was based on illegal civil rights discrimination.  This underscores why it is important to allege discrimination if there is any chance of it. Continue reading

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TEST YOUR LABOR RELATIONS BACK PAY ACT KNOWLEDGE

Many grievances are about getting back pay for employees, which makes it very important that practitioners know what can and cannot be done with back pay. Unfortunately, there are a lot of traps in the Back Pay Act (BPA) that can void an otherwise fair grievance settlement and hurt the covered union members deeply. Read through the hypothetical grievance settlement below and then answer the multiple choice question that follows. You can find the answer to the quiz at the end of this post. Continue reading

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WHEN PAST PRACTICE TRUMPS CONTRACT LANGUAGE

What do you do if management suddenly announces that despite following a certain past practice for years, which obviously conflicted with the contract language, it is now pronouncing the past practice dead and insisting the parties immediately follow the clear and unambiguous contract language in the future? The first thing you would do is figure out whether you want to object, and if you do the second thing would be to read the newly issued decision AFGE, 66 FLRA 963 to refresh your recollection of how the law treats those situations. Continue reading

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PAYROLL DEBT FOLLOWS FED TO THE GRAVE & BEYOND

The U.S. Court of Appeals recently issued a decision that should  serve as a warning to any federal employee who thinks s/he might be getting too much money in a paycheck. Union leaders should also take notice because illegally structured grievance settlements distributing money improperly to members can also create employee debts that their survivors might have to pay off, with interest, after the fed dies. Continue reading

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HOW TO USE FEDSMILL FOR MAX VALUE

What do you do with the FEDSMILL posts you get?  If you read them, that’s good because we started this blog in order to boost everyone’s awareness of what rights employees have and how they can be enforced.  However, we are hoping for a little more than you reading the posts. Ideally, you make sure that your colleagues involved in labor-management representation work also know about us and, if they do not subscribe, at least get an occasional post forwarded to them by you.  But even better than that would be to pass some posts along to bargaining unit employees.  Lots of union locals have a hard time keeping their web site current which is why we long-ago gave them permission to post our stuff on their site to get information to the average employee who, frankly, knows very little about his/her rights.  Union locals that know the value of pushing information out to members, rather waiting for them to come to the union web site, also have out permission to e-mail copies of our posts to unit and/or union members.  All too often, employees do not join a union because they have no idea of what a union representative can do for them.  FEDSMILL has literally hundreds of examples of how big employees can win if they stand up for themselves. CSRA, FMLA, FLSA, USERRA, ADEA, ADAAA, PDA, WPA, CRA, 5 CFR, 5 USC, Collective Bargaining Agreements, etc. are loaded with rights and protections that the American education system neatly keeps hidden from its young as they prepare for decades of work. To be blunt, kids come out of 12 years of American schooling knowing more about the War of the Roses and the chief export of Zambia than they do about their rights as employees.

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“FMLA-PLUS” LEAVE” WHAT IS IT?

Over the last decade or so the idea has slowly taken hold that an employee can be entitled to even more time off the job beyond what FMLA might give him/her.  The basic theory is that even though FMLA leave runs out, the various disability protections statutes still entitle a disabled employee to more time off the job if it is a reasonable accommodation given the circumstances. But the spreading acceptance of the idea has not stopped some folks from pushing back against any more time-off beyond FMLA. Two recent court decisions found in favor of those trying to limit disabled employee rights.  We thought you might like to see how those folks are making their case and what you should anticipate having to deal with in order to cut off their chances of success.  So, we are passing along a posting from FMLA Insights that cover the issue well.

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UNION MEMBERSHIP CONTINUES TO GROW DESPITE YOU KNOW WHAT

Given that we found it reassuring to read a recent Washington Post report about unions adding more and more new members despite the Washington political climate they have had to live within since last January, we thought you might too.  So we are passing along a link to the story and let’s hope all unions achieve a similar membership increase to what AFGE and NFFE report to the Post writers it is on target to reach this first year of the new Administration.

 

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