While death and taxes may be the more commonly recognized guarantees of life, not far behind are changes in performance standards.  Employees everywhere can count on managers trying to change their expectations, even if only in subtle ways, e.g., during a group discussion, employee annual reviews, e-mail messages, and daily feedback.  Here is what unions can do about that. Continue reading

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UNION REP TEST #17 (Drafting Midterm Change Proposals)

One of the very best things a union can do for employees is to stop implementation of an agency proposed change in working conditions until the union has fully explored the proposed change through information requests and midterm bargaining. At the center of that process is not only the union’s right to submit bargaining proposals, but also its skill at drafting them. Described below is a hypothetical proposed agency change followed by a series of True-False questions.  Test yourself on the questions.  The answers are at the end of the questions. Continue reading

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Sexual harassment is a well-known and well-litigated matter.  Mainstream media write about it often and most employers have policies prohibiting it.  But how many have heard of “age harassment” or an age-hostile work environment?  Here is what it is about and how to prove it. In a federal circuit court case titled Milan Dediol V. Best Chevrolet Incorporated Donald Clay, a 65 year old man claimed that his manager regularly addressed him as “old motherf****r,” “old man,” and “pops.”  Continue reading

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Imagine that the folks in your department work under a critical element that requires them to close a claim no later than 10 days after it is placed in their inventory and that for years almost everyone has met that standard. During that time an average of 20 new cases were put in their inventory each day. Now imagine that the White House, Congress or the media does something that causes the number of claims to surge to over an average of 40 arriving in each employee’s inventory daily.  Finally, imagine that when you and the Chief Steward accuse the agency of changing working conditions without notifying and bargaining with the union, it tells you that FLRA precedent holds that when the change is initiated by some force other than the agency, there is no bargaining obligation, and it shows you the cases proving that is rock solid case law. The agency also tells you that it has no plans to change the critical element. So, what can the union do for its members who are all failing to meet the critical element no matter how much harder they work? There are several things. Continue reading

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Almost every job has those few assignments that carry hidden benefits, e.g., they almost always earn those assigned a cash award, generate extra promotion points, or even almost automatically boost one’s appraisal.  What right does management have to exclude an active union rep from one? Continue reading

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UNION REP TEST #16 (Right to be Reassigned)

If you have read our posts from the beginning, you know that there are a few situations where the employee has a right to be reassigned and one of them is where the reassignment is a necessary reasonable accommodation for an employee’s disability.  EEOC just issued a recent case which provides almost a textbook review of a disabled employee’s right to a reassignment, particularly where the agency considers it an undue hardship to provide the employee large amounts of telework in his current position or other accommodation. (See Shanti N. v. Xavier Becerra, Secretary, DHHS (Ind. Health Service) EEOC No. 2019004882 (2021).  We have extracted (and listed below) several statements from the decision which may or may not be true.  Read through the statements to see if you can spot which are true and which are false.  We include the answers after the questions. Continue reading

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UNION REP TEST #15 (Information Access)

Which of the following does a union not have to reveal to management to meet the “particularized need” standard for getting information.

A.  Why it needs the information,   B.   The Uses to which it will put the data,   C. The potential grievant on whose behalf it is requesting the information,   D. How the information relates to its representational responsibilities,  E.  The potential violation it believes management committed, or F.  Its strategies for using the data to represent the employee?

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The EEOC’s willingness to protect against religious discrimination continues to surprise us. In the latest decision an employee of the Navy refused to shave his beard to obtain his respirator certification. Given the respirator would not fit properly over the beard the Navy cancelled some of his assignments despite the employee’s claim that his Catholic religious beliefs prohibited him from shaving his beard and his request for a religious accommodation. Knowing more than a little something about the Catholic religion and never having heard of this beard commandment, we were very surprised to find how EEOC decided this employee had met the legal requirement of having a “bona fide religious belief.” Continue reading

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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

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Unions are going to be hit with a wave of members asking for them to defend the member’s resistance to mandatory vaccinations based on religious grounds. Even if they push the member off into the EEO process to avoid the heavy cost of arbitrating each case individually, they can help the member by ensuring that s/he is ready to answer the questions that employers are getting ready to test the validity of their religious objection.  The folks behind the blog ”Employment and Labor Insider,” which is aimed at getting employers ready to deal with employee and union problems, put together a post entitled, “Vaccination Accommodation: Is That Religious Request Sincere?”  It outlines the steps and questions the typical employer is going to demand the employee answer before it grants a religious objection. Check it out and walk the employee through them before s/he gets deeply into the dispute.

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