At Pines Federal, our Houston federal employment lawyers are passionate about protecting the rights of federal employees in disability claims. If you are living with a disability, you have a right to reasonable accommodation or reassignment to duties that can be performed in your condition, or to fair disability benefits. Each case is unique, and our extensive knowledge of federal employee rights in disability cases has proven to be of great benefit to the hundreds of federal employees we have represented over our years in practice.
Representing injured and disabled federal employees is our specialty and passion! If you are limited at work by an injury or illness, you likely feel intimidated maneuvering through the maze of federal rules and regulations. Even the seemingly simple step of determining whether you are, in fact, disabled is often a complicated legal determination. The good news is that the Federal laws that govern this area are actually on your side and you have many rights available to assist you with accommodation.
At Pines Federal, our attorneys bring a unique combination of experience, client-centered service along with a personally tailored approach to Federal employee disability law. From our Houston office, we represent employees of every federal agency throughout the United States and the World. If you are a federal employee with physical or mental limitations, contact us to discuss your options for getting the right accommodations.
The legal professionals at Pines Federal understand the big picture and can help you with your EEO office, labor relations specialists as well as someone who understands the intricacies of federal laws rules and regulations.
A disabled employee sits somewhere on a continuum of legal needs beginning with:
Ideally, a disabled employee would seek out an attorney who is versed in all areas of and can assist with any of these areas, and more importantly, a lawyer who can tell them what makes the most sense in their particular situation because of their unique situation.
If you have read this far you probably know that there are few firms that specialize in the nuances of all these areas. At our firm, we pride ourselves on understanding all of these areas and, more importantly, helping the employee determine what is the best route for them to pursue (not what’s the most lucrative choice for the law firm or attorney).
At Pines Federal, we recommend a flat fee case review to our clients to help them determine the best path forward to meet their needs. After a case review, a client can decide if they would like to retain our firm to represent them.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applied the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to federal employees.
While it does not specifically list conditions that qualify as a disability, it does categorize them into the following:
You are the victim of disability discrimination when your employer uses your impairment to treat you in an adverse manner that is different from the treatment accorded other similarly situated employees without the impairment or disability. Having an impairment should not be an excuse to refuse to hire or promote you, pay you less money, or deny you benefits that are offered to other non-impaired workers.
It is also discrimination to be harassed, sexually or by bullying, based on your disability, whether the behavior comes from a co-worker, supervisor, a non-employee or a customer. Note that you might not have a viable complaint based only on a few incidents or on one or two casual comments. The harassing conduct must have created an offensive or hostile working environment. If you report the harassment and an adverse employment decision is based on your reporting, it also may constitute an act of disability discrimination.
Your employer has an obligation to provide you with a reasonable accommodation if you have a disability so that you can perform your job.
The employer need not provide the accommodation if it presents an undue hardship in terms of cost and adjustments. This can be based on the employer’s size, resources and needs. An accommodation is acceptable if it is close to what the employee needs.
Employees of federal agencies are afforded the same protections against disability discrimination that non-federal employees enjoy, and in some instances, even more protections. Federal employees receive protection under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which applied the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to federal employees. Although this protection is guaranteed to federal employees, the process of obtaining adequate accommodations for disabilities or OPM disability benefits can be complex.
At Pines Federal, our federal employee lawyers can help you with every step of the process, including:
There are many accommodation options available, depending on the severity of the disability and other factors. If you are disabled according to the Rehabilitation Act or the ADA, the agency is required to provide reasonable accommodations such as:
It is important to note that the employing agency must accommodate you with an accommodation that is effective, but not necessarily the best accommodation or the one that you request.
If it would be impossible for you to fulfill your essential functions at work even with these accommodations, or if providing accommodations would somehow present an undue hardship on the agency, you could seek:
The line between a disability that can be accommodated and one that requires OPM disability is not always clear, and having an expert on your side can be invaluable for a federal employee who is already suffering a medical hardship. Often your human resources and EEO officer do not act in accordance with law and regulation. Having an expert to assist you at this time is essential.
It is noteworthy that sometimes, when an agency cannot provide reasonable accommodations, it may terminate the employee for disciplinary reasons, leaving the employee with great difficulty in seeking OPM disability benefits. If this happens to you, we can help you work with your agency to make sure you are in a much better position to obtain your OPM Disability Retirement benefits.
Our firm specializes in this area, Mr. Pines has provided numerous federal training seminars in EEO and Reasonable Accommodation to the Veterans Administration, the Army, the Library of Congress and other federal agencies. We specialize in assisting with requests for accommodation, filing informal and formal complaints and all aspects of litigation of EEO claims in federal administrative courts.
At Pines Federal, our federal employment attorneys focus exclusively on the rights of federal employees, federal labor unions and federal agencies. We have over 20 years of experience in advising and pursuing disability discrimination claims for federal employees.