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  • EEOC Defending Reasonable Accommodations in Drug Testing Policy

    On August 24th, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against a car dealership (Bell Leasing, Inc.), alleging that its policy for drug testing did not possess exceptions for qualified individuals with disabilities. The EEOC claims that the employer made a job offer to an applicant. However, when she tested ...
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  • Chipotle Pays in Case Against Pregnant Woman

    On August 4th, Chipotle Mexican Grill was ordered to pay $550,000 to a former employee after a judge ruled she had been the victim of discrimination after being fired by the company for being pregnant. Doris Garcia Hernandez, 31, had worked at a Chipotle restaurant in Washington D.C. and claimed that she had received positive feedback regarding her performance at work before the trouble started. ...
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  • What is a "Qualified" Federal Employee for a Disability Reasonable Accommodation Request?

    The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that Federal Employees requesting reasonable accommodation be "Qualified" to do their jobs before entitlement to a reasonable accommodation. What does it mean to be a Qualified Employee under the ADA? Practically it means that an employee must be able to do the essential functions of their job with or without an accommodation. For example, we recently had a ...
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  • Reasonable Accommodation and the Federal Employee

    I enjoy representing Federal Employees with their requests for medical reasonable accommodations because this is an area of law where an attorney can make a real difference in someone’s life. Federal Employees who are suffering from a substantial impairment of their major life activities are entitled to receive an effective accommodation that allows them to perform the essential functions of their ...
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  • How Much Money Does my Federal Agency Have to Spend to Accommodate My Disability?

    As mentioned in a previous blog Federal Agencies need to go to quite an extent to take care of their disabled employees who need accommodation. One of the first cases I handled many years back involved a Center Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) employee who suffered from a debilitating medical condition that required him to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. My client worked in a brand new ...
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  • When Applying for OPM Disability Retirement - Stress the Symptoms!

    It is not difficult for a federal employee to prove that they have been diagnosed with a particular medical condition - all it takes is for their doctor to provide a simple letter of certification and apply a signature to this assertion. Including medical evidence in the form of diagnostic testing reports is certainly helpful and sometimes necessary, but will will likely not be the key to securing ...
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  • More Medical Evidence=Better Chance for OPM Disability Acceptance. True or False?

    It seems to make perfect sense. A three-inch high stack of medical documentation should be more convincing to the OPM Disability Retirement examiner than just 20 pages of diagnostic testing and hospitalization discharge reports, right? The answer is, not necessarily. Picture the OPM examiner analyzing your OPM Disability Retirement package next to her 50 other applications due that month. When ...
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  • Stretching the Bruner Presumption

    A federal employee’s medical condition is often the direct cause of termination and removal from the job, however your federal agency just as often neglects to mention the real reason, and delineates the cause as “excessive absenteeism” or other such justification. The best-case scenario would, of course, be for the agency to state the real underlying cause, which would entitle the employee to ...
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  • How Will Accepting a Light Duty Offer Affect My OPM Disability Retirement Application?

    You may wonder if it is in your best interest to accept an offer by your Agency for a light duty assignment. You plan on applying for OPM Disability Retirement, or may actually be in the process of doing so, and are concerned that OPM may view your acceptance of light duty as effectively being accommodated or reassigned. The truth is that generally it is perfectly fine to go ahead and accept the ...
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  • Can I work in a private sector job while I am on OPM Disability?

    You definitely can be open to supplementing your FERS annuities with a job in the private sector, as long as you keep two important points in mind: 1) Your annual income from the job must be less than 80% of the current rate of basic pay for the position from which you retired. If your income exceeds this amount, OPM would understand that you have been reinstated to earning capacity, and this ...
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  • Leave Without Pay and Back Pay: What to Know About This Dynamic

    Financial stress most often presses a federal employee who is disabled for his/her position description to scramble for some sort of income during the application process for OPM Federal Employee Disability Retirement. It is certainly difficult to survive without a steady source of income, but refusing the opportunity may just be your best bet. Once you are approved for OPM Disability Retirement, ...
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  • How long does your OPM Disability process take? How long does OPM take?

    At Pines Federal, we understand that our clients are anxious to submit their applications so that they can be assured financial stability as they face a reality where their disabilities prevent them from performing their job description. Speed is obviously a virtue in this arena, however even more paramount is precision and attention to detail. Our OPM specialists do their best to fuse these two ...
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  • Can I be on OPM Disability Retirement and OWCP at the same time?

    To be clear, OPM Disability Retirement and Office of Worker’s Compensation (OWCP) benefits cannot be received for the same period. The only exception to this rule is that a Scheduled Award may be paid in addition to FERS annuities. If you are approved for both OPM Disability Retirement and OWCP benefits, you will need to make an election (which is not irrevocable). If you elect OPM, you are still ...
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  • For how long do I have to be unable to work in my position to get OPM?

    A federal employee who is disabled must show evidence in their application that they are disabled from performing an essential element of their job for a minimum of 12 months from date the application is filed. This assertion generally comes from the applicant’s doctor, who delineates this claim in the Physician’s Statement. It is important to stress that the minimum quota of 12 months will begin ...
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  • Help, I am Filing for Federal Disability Retirement and My Supervisor Will Not Help!

    Does my supervisor have to be on board for my Disability Application to be successful? The short answer is not necessarily. A Supervisor’s Statement that testifies that the applicant has not been performing at a satisfactory level and cannot be accommodated is certainly an asset to an application for OPM disability retirement, but not a requirement. At Pines Federal, we are familiar with those ...
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