Washington, D.C., residents may, at some point in their lives, be presented with an employment contract. In the second part of this series of articles on common employment agreements, we will go over several common clauses, including no additional compensation provisions, no authority to contract provisions, arbitration provisions, termination provisions and choice of law provisions.
While employment agreements are usually entered into in order to protect both the employee and the employer's interests, in fact employment contracts in Washington, D.C., can be very complex. In this next series of posts, we will go over various provisions that may be present in an employment contract.
If an individual in Washington, D.C., learns that another individual is defrauding the United States government, this can be very disturbing information. Individuals may feel like they need to take action against such unethical activities, but may not know where to start. To begin with, let's discuss the False Claim Acts and how it allows individuals to bring a qui tam action against those who commit wrongdoing against the federal government.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump is well known for his "Your fired!" catchphrase from the reality TV show The Apprentice. He would live up to that slogan by making it easier to fire federal employees if he gets elected in November.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who heads Trump's White House transition team, told the press that Trump believes the process for firing civil servants takes too long and involves too many hurdles. Trump's administration cited concerns that Obama would convert political appointees to civil servants, granting them greater job security and equal pay rights.
Nepotism is common in the private sector - especially among small, family-run businesses. But in government jobs, it's a conflict of interest that could derail your career.
Nepotism in any form is prohibited among federal employees, and for good reason. The government has an obligation to maintain competitive, open and merit-based personnel practices. Nepotism unfairly shuts out qualified applicants and creates hurdles that shouldn't exist. As a type of corruption, it's not only unethical but also illegal, and it can be a criminal offense.
Federal employees in Washington, D.C., are protected not only by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but also by the Merit System Protection Board. The mission of the Merit System Protection Board is to protect certain principles under the law and promote a executive branch workforce that is free of Prohibited Personnel Practices. While this blog has touched on Prohibited Personnel Practices in the past, today we are going to take a step back and go over what the Merit System Principles are.
Coming into the national spotlight in recent days, Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson is suing Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes on charges of sexual harassment. Specifically, Carlson accuses Ailes of derailing her career after she refused to partake in a sexual relationship with him. This refusal, according to Carlson, caused Ailes to take important interviews from her, limit her network media support and be reassigned from the show Fox & Friends to a less important anchoring position on an afternoon show, all while taking a pay cut.
Additionally, in the lawsuit, Carlson seems willing to make other female anchors on the network testify whether they experienced sexual harassment and whether they received professional gain for sexual favors similar to the alleged favors Carlson rebuffed.
Federal employees and contractors often have a unique window into the inner workings of the government. As a result of that perspective, they are sometimes the first to stumble across ethical or legal violations. Federal whistleblowers play a critical role in holding government agencies and authorities accountable.
However, the federal whistleblower process isn't always clear cut. A prominent retaliation case illustrates the importance of swift action. It also sheds light on the often confusing channels and time frames for those who have suffered retaliation as a result of whistleblowing.
As the name implies, a whistleblower is someone who publicly discloses the criminal activity or other misconduct of their employer without their employer's consent. In most cases, the act of blowing the whistle is dangerous for an employee, as they have put their employer in the spotlight in a negative way. Because of this, there are measures in place to protect the whistleblower if they encounter retaliation as a result of the whistleblower activity.
However, whistleblower protections vary widely based on the type of activity, your employer and where you live. There is no general definition or universal list of whistleblower activity that is protected, and sometimes the measures could be difficult to overcome. For example, the statute of limitations in most whistleblower cases begins when an employee learns that they will be retaliated against, rather than when they are actually retaliated against. In some federal whistleblower statutes, the statute of limitations is as little as 30 days.
Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C., recently won an important victory in a discrimination case against the federal government. As reported in Bloomberg BNA, a federal appellate court sided with the firm in concluding that the lawsuit shouldn't have been dismissed.