Government employees have greater protection than employees in the private sector in Texas do. As a government employee, you are protected against discrimination arising out of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, as private sector employees are, and you also may have protection from discrimination arising out of parental status, marital status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and conduct that does not adversely affect your job performance. At Rob Wiley, P.C., our Dallas employment lawyers frequently represent government employees in discrimination claims and hearings before the merit systems protection board (MSPB).Hold a Public Employer Accountable for Discrimination
Government employees have a short time frame within which to complain of discrimination. Most federal government employees need to contact an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor within 45 days of the discriminatory acts. If the discrimination resulted in a wrongful termination, you can potentially appeal your termination to the merit systems protection board (MSPB). The MSPB protects civil servants and can hear government employees’ claims related to terminations, demotions, removals, furloughs, suspensions, and retirement benefits.
The MSPB can review the rationale for negative employment decisions. It has the authority to overturn a negative employment decision when an employer failed to follow procedural rules, such as providing proper notice and providing a chance to correct performance problems. Usually, if you work for a state agency, school district, public university or college, or local government, you will need to follow internal grievance procedures. You may be asked to participate in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). ADR includes mediation and arbitration.
There are certain prohibited personnel practices in the federal sector. A person who has the authority to take or approve of a personnel action is not supposed to take or fail to take or threaten to take or not take a personnel action because of an employee or job applicant’s exercise of a grievance right, complaint, or appeal granted by a law, rule, or regulation with regard to certain matters.
The prohibited practices are listed and codified at 5 U.S.C. section 2302(b)(9). Retaliation is one of the most commonly alleged grounds for discrimination claims in the federal sector and the most common finding in this arena. Retaliation includes any adverse employment action taken in response to your engaging in a protected activity as a governmental employee complaining of discrimination or your employer’s illegal activity, or in response to your taking a medical leave to which you were entitled or serving on a jury. Retaliation can happen in a range of situations. For example, if the federal agency for which you work terminates you because you filed a grievance about discrimination, you may have a claim for retaliation.
In order to establish retaliation under section 2302(b)(9), your attorney will need to show that you engaged in an activity protected under a statute, you received an adverse action from the federal agency, the official authorized to make a decision on a disciplinary action knew or should have known that you were engaging in a protected activity, and there was a causal link between the protected activity and the personnel action.Whistleblower Law
The government recognizes that whistleblowers perform a critical function in keeping the government honest, accountable, and efficient. Federal laws encourage federal employees and the employees of federal contractors to disclose wrongdoing, and they provide protection against retaliation. Often, government employees have greater protections in the course of whistleblowing than do whistleblowers in the private sector. Both the Office of Special Counsel and the MSPB can provide protection to federal employees who face retaliation due to whistleblowing activities.
State and local governmental employees are also protected against retaliation for whistleblowing. Often, there are internal grievance procedures available for whistleblowers. There are also appeal rights.Consult an Experienced Employment Attorney in the Dallas Area
If your federal, state, or local government employer has discriminated against you, retaliated against you, or otherwise violated your rights, you should discuss your situation with an attorney who has handled many of these cases. We represent employees in Dallas as well as other cities throughout Dallas, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, Rockwall, and Ellis Counties. Contact us at (214) 528-6500 or via our online form.