MINAHAN AND SHAPIRO, P.C.
Our Regular Reminder
This is a reminder to all our union clients of the various services available through our firm. Most of our retainer agreements provide for unlimited legal advice, on-site visits and filing and processing of unfair labor practice charges. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to have one of us conduct training, meet with employees or review a case for arbitration or MSPB. We are also just a phone call or a fax away if you need help or feedback researching any legal issue on federal sector employment.
The Office of Special Counsel has announced that, effective December 1, 2000, employees who wish to make disclosures of alleged fraud, waste or abuse to OSC must use an OSC-approved form. A copy of this form is attached.
Discontinued Service Retirement
According to 5 USC 8336(d) an employee who is separated from employment involuntarily "except by removal for cause on charges of misconduct or delinquency" is entitled to an "early out" annuity if he or she meets the age and service requirements. Sometimes, there is a disagreement over whether the employee was separated for cause. In Litzenberger v. OPM, No. 00-3081 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 7, 2000), the Court ruled that when OPM denies an annuity on the basis that the employee was separated for cause, MSPB is not required to accept this determination and must take an independent look at the facts.
One of the most popular excuses by federal agencies trying to avoid bargaining with unions is that the particular proposal would require the agency to expend funds in a manner not authorized by a specific statute. Of course, this rarely stops the agency from expending funds on projects it thinks are worthwhile. For example, the General Services Administration asked for a ruling from the General Accounting Office as to whether it could set up a fund to pay for prizes to be awarded to employees who complete customer satisfaction surveys. The goal of the prizes is to encourage more employees to complete the surveys. In GSA, No. B-286536 (Nov. 17, 2000) the GAO General Counsel ruled there was no prohibition on setting up this fund.
The EEOC on October 20, 2000, issued Directive No. 915.003, which contains policy guidance for federal agencies on offering reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities. The guidance contains a section on when and how federal agencies can request medical information from employees. EEOC says that under the law, an agency may not request medical information where:
a. Both the disability and the need for reasonable accommodation are obvious; or
b. The individual has already provided the agency with sufficient information to document the existence of the disability and his or her functional limitations.