Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, PLLC

A Washington, D.C. based law firm with a civil practice in employment law

Category: Uncategorized

Federal Times reports that KPW case could result in millions of dollars to class members

The Federal Times reports that a December 2012 order issued by the EEOC could result in the Social Security Administration owing “millions of dollars in back pay to black male employees at its Baltimore headquarters.”  The EEOC order was issued after the class alleged that SSA violated the terms of a settlement agreement reached in a class action filed in 1998. KPW attorneys have proudly represented the class of African American male employees at SSA Headquarters for decades.

To learn more about the SSA class action, click here.
To see the Federal Times report, click here.

Pumping Breast Milk at Work in D.C. is Protected by Law

Are you a breastfeeding mother who works in the District of Columbia? Does your employer provide you with the break time that you need to pump milk for your baby?  Does your employer provide you with a clean, private space– other than a toilet stall or a bathroom– for you to pump breast milk?  If not, your employer may be in violation of the law.

In the District of Columbia, there is a law that protects the rights of breastfeeding mothers.  In almost all circumstances, employers must allow women reasonable break time in which to express breast milk in a private, sanitary area.  In 2007, the District of Columbia passed a law, entitled the “Child’s Right to Nurse Human Rights Amendment Act,” which provides that an employer shall provide reasonable daily unpaid break periods to an employee who wishes to express breast milk for her child to maintain milk supply and comfort.  In addition, the law provides that an employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide a clean room or other location in close proximity to the work area where an employee can express her breast milk in privacy and security.  Employers are exempted only if it would cause an “undue hardship” to the employer. An undue hardship is one that “requires significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to factors such as the size of the business, its financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.”  Employers who violate the law commit an unlawful discriminatory practice under the D.C. Human Rights Law.

The law firm of Kator, Parks & Weiser, P.L.L.C. strenuously advocated for the passage of this law in 2007, and has advised breastfeeding mothers in D.C. about their rights to pump milk at work.  If you believe your employer may be in violation of the law, please contact Kator, Parks & Weiser today for a free consultation.

FDA Employee Email Surveillance Raises Concerns of Congress and OSC

The Washington Post reported that, according to Congressional investigators, the Food and Drug Administration’s Chief Counsel’s office authorized the agency to secretly monitor the emails and online activity of FDA scientists who were potentially engaged in protected whistleblowing activity. Since January 2012, Sen. Charles E. Grassley and the Senate Judiciary Committee have been investigating the FDA’s recent admission that, beginning in 2010 it authorized the surveillance of employees’ government computers and even personal email accounts. The FDA has claimed it began the surveillance solely for the purpose of determining whether the scientists had improperly leaked confidential and trade secret protected information for a 2010 New York Times article about the FDA’s review procedures for medical imaging devices. In that article, the scientists took issue with FDA’s process, alleging that it led to the improper approval of devices which exposed patients to dangerous radiation. The FDA’s surveillance, conducted by a third-party contractor, cataloged the activity of dozens of employees, media outlets, and elected officials, including members of Congress. The contractor also collected protected communications between employees and their attorneys, as well as drafts of employee grievances and complaints, and disclosures made to members of Congress.

In addition to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Office of Special Counsel has also been investigating the FDA’s surveillance efforts to determine whether FDA violated federal anti-whistleblowing laws.  Several of the scientists being monitored filed employee grievances and a federal lawsuit, and were either fired or passed over for promotions after the surveillance program began.  OSC made an initial determination that the employee’s grievances about whistleblowing warranted a full investigation.  OSC Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner issued a warning to federal agencies in June 2012, stating that while monitoring federal employee’s official government emails and computers is in some cases permitted, it violates the law if the intent of the surveillance is to retaliate against whistleblowers.  The White House re-issued OSC’s warning across the government, indicating there are limits on employee surveillance, particularly when protected whistleblowing activity is involved.

If you believe you have been retaliated for protected whistleblowing, contact Kator, Parks, and Weiser.  Our firm has experience protecting and defending the rights of federal employees.

 

Back Pay Act Restored for FAA Employees

On February 14, 2012, President Obama signed into law the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  The statute includes a little known, but very important, “technical correction.”  This correction retroactively restores to the Merit Systems Protection Board all remedial authority for FAA employees.  In the mid-1990s, Congress permitted the FAA to largely opt out of the federal civil service system, and create its own personnel system.  In 2000, FAA was generally placed back under the federal civil service, including under the MSPB’s jurisdiction.  But, whether intentionally or by mistake, Congress failed to restore the applicability of the Back Pay Act to the FAA.  As a result, the MSPB and Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held that FAA employees are not able to recover back pay from the FAA, even when they proved that they were wrongly terminated, suspended, or otherwise deprived of pay by the FAA.

The new law overturns these decisions and restores the Board’s authority to award relief under the Back Pay Act in appeals involving the FAA.  The technical correction thus resolves this longstanding problem for FAA employees, not only in future cases but also for all FAA employees who were prevailing parties against the FAA but were denied relief under the Back Pay Act at any time since April 1, 1996.

Kator, Parks & Weiser is currently assisting a number of FAA employees submit claims for back pay awards due under the new law.  Contact Kator, Parks & Weiser today to discuss the impact of this new law on your claims.

Section 611 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act states:

Section 40122(g)(3) is amended by adding at the end the following: `Notwithstanding any other provision of law, retroactive to April 1, 1996, the Board shall have the same remedial authority over such employee appeals that it had as of March 31, 1996.’.