You may wonder why it is difficult to find counsel for federal employees. The answer is a universal one. My first case was an employment case. By the mid-nineties, employers woke up and became more savvy to Employment Law. The government has been awake for a long time! The difference in the process and the “usual process” for employment lawyers is unbelievable! It was “enough” to learn the mass of employment law, in general. So few of us practice government employment law because it is tough, difficult and a long road. Lay over the EEOC process on top of “regular employment law,” it is another animal entirely. Then you need to understand the universal rules of business.
For ANY business or service to operate you need to know:
1. The units of trade and
2. The price per unit. And,
3. The Language of the business or system. Lawyers are not taught government lingo or acronyms.
If you add the years it takes to get a handle on a regular employment case (whatever that means), add EEOC training, the law of the different Federal Circuits, the U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The different rulings in every circuit make a case in one circuit and not a case in the other.
So, if you are lucky enough to find an experienced lawyer for Federal Employees, you have made your first step in the right direction. Because without experienced help, at every turn you will be misadvised, cut-short or in some way your complaint will be minimized – - or worse, dismissed! You KNOW this. So why do I write it? Because in every single case with the government my clients and would be clients have received that kind of treatment. Anything to save the agency!
You know that in 45 days you must get to a counselor. You think what you say is confidential? Well, before that day is done your info goes right up the ladder so fast that the engineers in the science of automobile speed could learn a lesson! There is nothing that is confidential, yet the so-called “Privacy Laws” will be the very thing that gets in your way.
“What to do?”, I agree is self-serving—but it is the absolute truth. First find an experienced lawyer to get between you and the system. Second: The lawyer flies the “Don’t Tread on Me Flag.” If you can find two or more lawyers who practice this, TALK TO THEM. Get someone who: 1. You like. And 2. Sounds like they have your interest at heart. 3. If anyone promises you anything . . . RUN. This is not a business where you have a 50/50 chance of winning—it’s worse! This is a business of fine selection of cases. That means when and if you have “found the one,” the process of digging the facts is next. If reviewing the fact finding does not hurt, then you ought not be at a lawyer’s office. You have no case. What various kinds of hell you have gone through, you will have to relive. Save everything.
Start a diary in the first moment that you have a problem. Keep the diary at home—never at work. This is true before and during the case. This is a tough arena, but employees do win. Trust no one with your secrets or with your strategy. No one wants to lose their job by talking; others, unfortunately take what’s yours to ears where it does not belong. Those people make their futures that way.
You are what makes this government stand. Not Congress, of any time. You – carry the honor of the weight of this country, but you need not get crushed by someone who violates the discrimination laws. Get your ducks in order. After the facts have been reviewed by a lawyer, be prepared for a fight. If you have lasted so long with misery, decide to fight only if you have the strength. If you have a good, valid case, and the lawyer is skilled in gathering evidence—the lawyer wants to win. You need witnesses. If you find a really good lawyer, you feel it, you have hard facts . . . well? It’s time to fight! When there is a solid case you can break the 50/50 chance. Otherwise it is something less. Go get ‘em.