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Washington D.C. Employment Law Blog

Employers should not get away with illegal wage, hours schemes

Some of us are lucky enough to be doing a job we love. Despite this, those of us who work for somebody else trade our time, labor and expertise in exchange for a paycheck.

Most of the time, workers get paid what they are owed. But sometimes, an employer tries to get away with not paying employees the money they deserve. Workers, especially those living from paycheck to paycheck, may fear losing their jobs if they complain.

Football coach sues university for wrongful termination

Unlike in most jobs, which are considered to be "at-will" employment, those working under an employment contract in Washington, D.C. may be protected from firing, or being forced to resign, without cause. Just as with any other contract, a contract for employment lays out certain rights and obligations for both parties. When a worker believes that his or her employer fired them in violation of the terms of the employment contract, he or she could have the right to compensation in court.

A former defensive coordinator for the University of Central Florida has filed a wrongful termination suit against the school's Athletic Department and Board of Trustees. The coach says that he was fired because the head coach, George O'Leary, second-guessed his decision to hire him. The lawsuit also accuses O'Leary of bullying the plaintiff, and making bigoted remarks in his presence.

5 ways people are sexually harassed at work

People in Washington, D.C. who work deserve to do their job in an environment that allows them to feel same from unwanted attention, insults and groping of a sexual nature. Because too many workplaces are still the site of sexual harassment, it is necessary to have laws giving victims the power to fight back against this shameful conduct.

Some people may have been the target of strange or uncomfortable behavior at work, but they are not sure if what happened qualifies as sexual harassment. The following are common examples of impermissible behavior:

GINA restricts use of genetic information in employment decisions

Federal law prohibits employers from committing several forms of discrimination against their employees and those applying for a job. This includes prejudicial treatment because of a person’s race, religion, gender, or because the person is older. Victims of workplace discrimination in one of these forms have the right to sue the offending workplace for damages.

These legal protections have been in place for many years. Most of our readers in Washington, D.C., are likely aware of them. But they are not the only types of discrimination that Congress has identified and passed a law to combat.

EEOC OFO Reverses AJ and Finds Discrimination

Sharon Walker, Martha Larry, Merriom Hashim, Antoinette Clark, Sherry Mosley v. John M. McHugh, Secretary, Department of the Army

OFO Appeal Nos. 0120123054, 0120123055, 0120123056, 0120123057, 0120123058

We just won an appeal before the EEOC Office of Federal Operations in a case where we represent five African American nurses employed by the federal government who claimed they were discriminated against on the basis of their race when they were not considered for promotion to team lead positions.

VA Whistleblower In Minneapolis Alleges Wrongful Firing

Our client, Leticia Alonso, was formerly employed as a Medical Support Assistant Supervisor in the GI Department at the Minneapolis VA. In or around May 2014, she began reporting that GI consults were not being scheduled in a timely manner. Patients were to be contacted within 7 days and an appointment was to be scheduled within 14 days from the date of referral by a physician. Instead, Ms. Alonso reported consults were severely overdue, one as old as 46 days overdue. She also reported that she was being instructed to cancel patient appointments and enter false comments into the VA system, such as patient declined appointment, or no response from patient, when in fact the patient had never been called about the appointment and that certain more symptomatic patients were being placed on a secret waitlist instead of in the official VA system. Ms. Alonso alleges that as a result of her reports, on June 4, 2014, she received a notice of proposed removal and was subsequently removed from service on July 1, 2014.

Nursing home settles lawsuit alleging overstated Medicaid reimbursement claims:

Federal and state laws prohibit healthcare providers from submitting overstated bills to the government.  These laws are generally called false claims act or qui tam cases and the person who blows the whistle may recover damages.  False claims can take many forms including overstated invoices and out and out theft. 

In the nursing home field, companies receive compensation from the government through Medicaid reimbursements.  The amount of money a nursing home receives from the government for each resident under Medicaid generally depends upon the level of care each resident requires.  Information about the level of care each resident requires is relayed to the government by the nursing home, and the government in turn pays the nursing home a reimbursement rate based upon the information it receives from the nursing home. 

Do you have to participate in company sponsored Wellness programs?

It is very trendy these days for companies to encourage their employees to lead healthier lives in an effort to drive down the cost of health care premiums.  Towards this end, many companies have instituted what are commonly known as "wellness programs", where they ask their employees exercise, give up smoking or generally lead healthier lifestyles.  While these programs may be well intentioned, risks arise when the companies require their employees to disclose medical information about themselves as part of the wellness program and single out employees who don't feel comfortable complying with their requests.

A recent case filed in Wisconsin by the EEOC highlights the problems companies may face when employees decline to participate in a wellness program and thereafter allege that they were subjected to retaliation for their decision.

What to do if you are rejected for a job because of a credit report or criminal background check?

Many jobs these days require that you permit the employer to conduct a credit report, criminal history report or other background check before they decide whether to hire you. 

What if the employer performs a background check on you and you don't get the job?

Frequently, what happens, is that the employer just lets you know that your application was rejected because of the background check but won't tell you why.  This situation is very frustrating and leaves people in the dark as to what is in their report that is damaging and whether what is in the report is accurate.

When can a federal employee appeal a forced retirement to MSPB?

We frequently consult with longtime federal employees who are towards the end of their careers and find themselves dealing with a new and unpleasant supervisor who makes their work life hell.  By the time they get to us the situation at work is bad.  Either the supervisor has issued discipline, rated them unacceptably, or placed them on a PIP.  We are frequently asked if they can claim that they were forced to quit and then pursue a claim against the agency at MSPB.

MSPB rules hold that in order to state a claim for involuntary retirement, also called a forced removal or constructive discharge, the employee must establish that the retirement was the result of intolerable working conditions. 

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Alan and his associates provided an exceptional service throughout my case. They ensured all my questions and concerns were answered and properly addressed in a timely manner and I was kept abreast of the process. Their legal advice resulted in a positive outcome for me. I recommend Alan's law firm to anyone that needs legal counsel or representation.
Alan and his associate provided me the information and advice I needed, in a very timely fashion, to make my decisions. They then actively implemented our agreed to path forward, resulting in the negotiated conclusion I had hoped for.
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