FMLA LEGAL UPDATE

The American Bar Association annually publishes a review of all the significant court cases around the country dealing with FMLA.  It is a great source of information for those folks—union and management alike—who do a lot of FMLA work. You will be surprised at some of the rights employees have under this statute.

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“ENGLISH! ENGLISH!”

That is what a manager shouted at two employees he found speaking Spanish while casually asking about each other’s families. When the employees filed a complaint alleging that was discrimination, the agency responded that surely a one-time incident criticizing employees for not speaking English did not tangibly harm the employee enough to rise to a formal violation of law. Well, EEOC said “Incorrecto!” It followed that up with an order that the agency compensate the employee for damage done them. Continue reading

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RIGHTS TO A SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER

EEOC has just ruled on yet another case where an agency tried to skirt a employee’s right to a sign language interpreter. We thought it would be helpful to highlight the Commission’s simple statement about when an employee is entitled to an interpreter. Continue reading

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SHOULD FLRA REWRITE ATTORNEY FEE CASE LAW?

While abuses are not rampant, they are there. One lawyer will charge five times what another does to win the same kind of case. Hourly fees are based on seniority rather than the level of skill needed to do the work. Bills are padded easily by adding several time-consuming arguments to a case that needs only one. Arbitrators order back pay in group-wide grievances for all work—even the work done on behalf of those grievants who did not get back pay. Unions are allowed to keep secret from members and the public how they spend their attorney fee profits, which makes them all potential slush funds. We said it before and we will say it again, a few greedy attorneys are going to kill this goose that lays golden eggs for federal employee. But is it FLRA’s role to correct the situation? Continue reading

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EEOC RULES METHODIST NEED NOT WORK SUNDAYS

An interesting ruling came out recently in a case known as Stanton v. Brennan, USPS, EEOC No. 0120172696 (2019). The employee, a Methodist, claimed that his religion prohibited him from working on a Sunday. While his employer found someone to work his Sunday assignments, it required him to attend three training sessions on a Sunday.  When he refused to attend, it fired him.  EEOC reversed the firing finding the employee made a legitimate religious accommodation claim. Here is how it analyzed the facts and applied the law in its own words–with some highlighting of critical passages by us. Continue reading

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WHAT UNIONS CAN DO WHEN AGENCIES END NON-DISCRETIONARY BONUS PROGRAMS

Given the anti-employee bias, if not contempt, built into the DNA of the current FSIP many employers are taking the opportunity to terminate negotiated performance award programs, e.g., annual awards based on performance scores or gainsharing programs. There is not much unions can do to stop that, but there is something they can do to make employers regret it. Continue reading

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NFFE COULD FILE FALSIFICATION CHARGES AGAINST ABERDEEN MANAGEMENT

We would. An arbitrator found that an agency failed to follow the contract obligation about the background of those on a promotion “rating panel” and gave two grievants priority consideration.  It did not take a genius to make that call because the agency admitted in its written grievance response that did not follow the contract requirement. Moreover, the “rating panel” members did all those things rating panels do.  They interviewed candidates, they evaluated their response to pre-determined questions, and they gave the candidates scores. Those scores where used to determine who was highly qualified versus best qualified. It was going to be an “easy-peasy” decision against the agency if the agency reps did not do something. So, as best we can tell, the agency reps decided to tell a big fat lie. Apparently, the horrors of having to give two employees priority consideration and the threat to government, if not the free world, priority consideration creates, justified in their mind making up stuff. Continue reading

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FLRA’S ABBOTT TRASHES PRESIDENT 

Jim Abbott came out hot in a new FLRA decision condemning the foul, racist-tinged language used day in and day out by our President. Shedding his unofficial title as the Administration’s most notorious moral hypocrite, The Jimbo let fly with both fists stating unequivocally that “There is no place for boorish, insulting, and demeaning language…” in the federal government. Specifically targeting several of Trump’s favorite words such as “fat,” “retard” and “loser,” Abbott let it be known that he would suspend the President for 14 days for such behavior. Jim would do that without even considering “you know whose” predisposition to engage in “assault and battery” of women, nor is he willing to accept the defense that this kind of language is “within the scope” of a president’s duties to the people he represents. He then dumped yet another big bucket of shade on the president saying leaders “should be able to comport themselves appropriately” when operating as government officials. Oops, wait a minute; we misspoke.  We must have been dreaming.  Jim wrote all his outrage only applies to a union president, not the President of the United States.  Jim did not blame Trump’s constant verbal abuse of others for the fact that this kind of robust exchange might occur today between federal employees; rather he blamed the two dozen or so people who served on the FLRA before him for allowing this to happen. He also blamed… Continue reading

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CONGRATS TO AFGE FOR ITS CIVIL RIGHTS PASSION

The media carried a story today about how an AFGE rep from the TSA went to see a Georgia Congressman about issues important to his members and the Congressman’s constituents.  As the AFGE rep was waiting to be seen he noticed an open book displayed in the Congressman’s waiting room that was opened to a page referring to African-Americans in the most vile and racist way. Continue reading

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DO FMCS MEDIATORS LIE?

That’s a tough question to answer when you know so many totally honest and honorable mediators, but the hard lesson we learned was that there are some who will. So, negotiators, especially union negotiators, need to keep that in mind when dealing with them and protect themselves. Here is an only slightly hypothetical set facts that showed us how easy lying can come to a mediator. Continue reading

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