Whether you are an oncologist working for the National Institute of Health or a nurse at the Veterans Administration (VA), the law considers you a Title 38 employee. This peculiar designation means that if you have a workplace complaint, you must follow a special set of procedures to obtain justice and compensation. For instance, if you are subjected to a disciplinary action that is normally appealable (by Title 5 and/or Title 38 Hybrid employees) to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) (i.e. a suspension of 15 days or more, demotion, or removal action), the MSPB may not be available to you as a forum to seek relief.
Frustratingly, agency management generally has substantial discretion over Title 38 employee cases. In practice, this means that you may be demoted, transferred to another department or fired without understanding as to why and/or without being able to exercise the normal full set of employee rights.
In addition, disciplinary actions which are based on clinical conduct and/or competency may be appealable to another type of Board called a Disciplinary Appeals Board (DAB).
Handling Your Case By Yourself Vs. Working With a Title 38 Attorney
Before you develop your case and face the DAB alone, consider retaining an experienced federal employment attorney to strategize. Here are a few reasons why:
- Avoid frustration. The administrative processes for appealing personnel actions are complicated. In order to obtain a favorable result, you need to understand what is required, when it is required, and why it is required.
- Save time and make life easier for you and your family. Approaching a Medical Center Director or a U.S. Court of Appeals by yourself can be intimidating and time consuming.
- Solve the problem at its root. Even if you manage to obtain a favorable result, you might face potential future complications. An attorney can prevent such issues and handle them if and when they arise.
- Obtain peace of mind for the duration of your action. A qualified attorney who understands the unique needs of Title 38 employees (and the various laws that protect them) can answer your questions, prepare you for meetings and remove uncertainty from the equation.
- Take advantage of all legal protections for Title 38 employees. Federal Courts have maintained that the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), Administrative Procedures Act (APA), Age Discrimination and Employment Act, Title 5, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Civil Rights Act of 1964 all apply to Title 38 employees. These laws protect you from sexual discrimination, harassment, age discrimination, retaliation for reporting waste fraud and abuse, and unfair agency actions (i.e. whistleblower retaliation). A qualified lawyer can help you leverage these laws.
- Benefit from a track record of success. The odds are that you spent most of your career studying medicine and caregiving, and that you have never faced a substantial battle over your workplace rights before. Rather than try to learn everything you need to know, why not trust attorneys who have dedicated their careers to understanding how to obtain results in cases like yours and can navigate the complicated procedural and legal issues that may arise in your case?
Get the Help You Need and Deserve
Whether you are a nurse who treats veterans at a head injury clinic or a physician doing important clinical work for NIH, you may be overwhelmed and confused about how to obtain justice and fairness at your federal workplace. You do not have to try to manage your situation by yourself in a vacuum; call the experienced team here at The Law Offices of Eric L. Pines, PLLC for a confidential consultation.