Ruth Ann Azeredo, the principal attorney for the Law Office of Ruth Ann Azeredo LLC, has over 30 years of experience in federal employment matters. She spent 10 years handling such matters when working as an attorney for the federal government, and, for the past twenty years, she has represented federal employees through her law office.
Some of the matters she handles include:
Has your Agency proposed an Adverse Action against you? If so, we can help.
Most federal employees have a constitutionally recognized property right in their continued employment with the Federal Government. Where such a constitutional right exists, the federal government cannot deprive that employee of their employment without due process. For that reason, federal employees are entitled to oral or written notice of the charges against them, an explanation of the employer’s evidence, and an opportunity to present their side of the story.
Our Firm Can Help You With a Proposed Adverse Action
We will thoroughly analyze and assess the basis(es) and facts underlying the proposed action; we will prepare a written response with the appropriate exhibits and supporting statements; and we will represent you at oral replies.
Are you Appealing and Adverse Action taken against you? If so, we can help.
Where the agency takes action against you, you may have a right to file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), and/or file an appeal. For example, you may have a right to file an appeal with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Personnel Appeal Board, or other appeal processes depending on which agency you are employed with.
Our Firm Can Help You With An Appeal
We represent federal employees in their appeal processes, after adverse actions are taken. We represent clients in matters before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and in other administrative hearing and appeal processes, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Personnel Appeal Boards, among others.
PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES (5 U.S.C. § 2302)
Have you been affected by a Prohibited Personnel Practice (PPP)? If so, we can help.
Prohibited personnel practices (PPPs) are employment-related activities that are banned in the federal workforce because they violate the merit system through some form of employment discrimination, retaliation, improper hiring practices, or failure to adhere to laws, rules, or regulations that directly concern the merit system principles.
The PPPs are Discrimination, Considering Inappropriate Recommendations, Coercing Political Activity, Obstructing Competition, Influencing Withdrawal from Competition, Granting Unauthorized Advantage, Nepotism, Whistleblower Retaliation, Other Retaliation, Other Discrimination, Veterans Preference, Violating Rules that Implement a Merit Systems Principle, Imposing Nondisclosure Agreement That Does Not Allow Whistleblowing, and Accessing Medical Records in Furtherance of Another PPP.
If you have been negatively affected or have experienced an adverse action due to a PPP, you may file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) or, if the adverse employment action is subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), you may file a complaint with MSPB.
Our Firm Can Help Defend You and/or Assert Your Rights
We have decades of experience in analyzing and recognizing PPPs and can advise you as to your options and represent you through either the OSC process, MSPB, EEO processes, and federal court.
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY/DISCRIMINATION/RETALIATION CLAIMS
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA – 29 U.S.C. § 633a(a), et seq.); Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII – 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.); Rehabilitation Act (Rehab Act – 29 U.S.C. § 701, et seq.)
Do you believe you have been discriminated against? Sexually Harassed? Harassed due to other protected bases? Retaliated against for complaining about discrimination and/or harassment? If so, we can help.
We have decades of experience representing federal employees through the EEOC process and in federal courts.
The law protects federal employees from discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. The law also protects you from retaliation if you oppose employment discrimination, file a complaint of discrimination, or participate in the EEO complaint process (even if the complaint is not yours.)
First step to preserving your rights
If you believe that you have been discriminated against, you have a right to file an EEO complaint. Federal employees have a short time frame in which to contact an EEO counselor and preserve their rights. If you do not contact the EEO counselor within 45 days of the day the discriminatory and/or retaliatory conduct occurred, you may forever lose your right to bring a complaint forward.
For that reason, if you believe you have been discriminated against, it is important to take immediate steps to preserve your rights. This initial process is the “informal complaint” process.
The Formal EEO Complaint and Investigation
Once the informal complaint process is finalized, you will receive your notice to file a formal complaint. At that point, you only have 15 days in which to file the “Formal” complaint. The Agency will then provide notice as to which complaints, if any, it will accept for investigation. There are times the Agency makes incorrect decisions at this stage. Depending on the circumstances, you may have a right to appeal that decision to the Office of Federal Operations at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
If there are claims that are accepted, those claims will be investigated. The investigation process is critical and it is imperative to answer questions precisely and to provide pertinent information to the investigator. This can include documents. Once the investigation is completed, you will have an option to seek a hearing with an EEOC Administrative Judge or ask for a Final Agency Decision.
Hearing or Final Agency Decision
If you opt for a hearing, you can expect to be ordered to address preliminary matters with the Administrative Judge assigned to your matter; to be served with Agency motions; and to be served with the Agency’s demands for information. The hearing process is tricky and burdensome. It is important to have an experienced attorney representing you through this process.
For those who decide to forgo a hearing, the Agency will issue a Final Agency Decision (“FAD”) of your claim(s). It is rare that an Agency will conclude that discrimination and/or retaliation has occurred. For that reason, in order to preserve their rights, complainants must take the next step of filing an action in federal court, within 90 days of the receipt of the FAD.
Our Firm Can Help You
With our decades of pertinent experience, we are poised to assist you through the EEO process and in federal court.
We represent employees when they are the subject of an investigation. Federal employees have an obligation to cooperate in an investigation but when that employee is confronted with potential criminal exposure, it is important that the employee understands their rights. For that reason, if you are the subject of an investigation, having a representation is the prudent option.
ETHICS AND “HATCH ACT” PROCEEDINGS
Ethics Regulations (5 CFR Part 2635)
Federal employees are required to comply with a host of ethics regulations. From time to time, employees may encounter a situation where they are investigated for, allegedly, not complying with their ethical obligations.
We can represent you through the investigation. During representation, we provide you candid advice as to any vulnerability you may have; we will assist you in preparing written or oral responses; and we can represent you should the agency choose to propose an Adverse Action.
The “Hatch Act” (5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326)
Employees of the executive branch of the federal government have certain restrictions from participating in partisan political management and partisan political campaigns. The level of restrictions will vary depending on the position of the federal employee and that employee’s responsibilities.
You may become the subject of an investigation of a violation of the Hatch Act (these investigations are conducted by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). You may also be facing disciplinary action if OSC finds you violated the Hatch Act.
We can assist you in preparing for your OSC investigation, assessing your rights, providing consultation throughout the process, and being present at any interview.
If OSC concludes that you have violated the Hatch Act, we can represent you before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
EMPLOYMENT RECORDS – PRIVACY ACT (5 U.S.C. § 552a)
Information about your employment resides in Privacy Act Systems of Records maintained by federal agencies. As a federal employee, the information that is used by your employer to make employment decisions, will reside in those records. For that reason, it is important that the agency (a) aggregates and maintains the proper information; (b) uses the information only as authorized; and (c) does not disclose what is in those records except as authorized.
You have a right, in certain instances, to seek a correction or amendment of the information in your record(s). You also have a right, in most instances, to have access to your records.
It is surprising to many federal employees when they find out that their supervisor(s) maintain files about them that are not within a Privacy Act System of Records. Though it is not necessarily illegal when a supervisor does this. If the supervisor fails to keep those files safe, improperly uses them to make employment determinations, or if that supervisor provides them to a new supervisor, you may have claims against the agency for violations of the Privacy Act.
How We Can Help You
We can help you file requests for records, appeal denials to a request for records, request an amendment to your records on your behalf, appeal a denial to correct records, and file lawsuits for violations of the Privacy Act.
WHISTLEBLOWER REPRISAL (5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8))
If you disclosed what you reasonably believed was a violation of law, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, and abuse of authority or a substantial and specific safety violation and now you are being retaliated against, you may have a claim for whistleblower reprisal. In order to have a claim of reprisal you would have to have been made aware of this conduct outside your normal job responsibilities.
If you fall within the protections of the whistleblower protections and you have experienced reprisal, you may file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) or, if the reprisal against you includes more severe actions, such as a suspension of more than 14 days, a reduction in grade or pay, or a removal, you can file a complaint of reprisal directly to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
What We Can Do For You
We have decades of experience in bringing these claims forward to OSC and to the MSPB and can assist you if you are confronted with this situation.