Our client, Special Agent Elisabeth Heller Drake, testifies to the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on EPA obstruction of its Office of Inspector General. Attorney David Schleicher is pictured over her right shoulder.
If you were to sit down and read the federal laws protecting the employment rights of veterans and providing preferences for their hiring, you might guess that a former service member is almost guaranteed to be selected for a federal job. Having five or ten points added to your score can make a real difference in whether or not you make the cut-off for interviews.
Unfortunately, at other times the experience is quite to the contrary, as in this real life example.
An agency hired a non-vet candidate over a disabled vet without complying with the rules for seeking OPM permission to bypass the vet and the opportunity for the vet to challenge the proposed bypass. When the veteran complained, the agency cancelled the selection of the non-vet and brought the vet in for an interview. The agency decided it did not want to hire the vet, but HR told management that OPM would turn down a bypass because the vet did in fact meet the qualifications for the position.
So management cancelled the vacancy, then reposted the job at a higher grade, and hired someone else.
The vet complained this was a violation, but the Department of Labor said no, that it was because of a bad interview. DOL found that an interview was provided, so the vet did get consideration as intended by the law.
The vet then pursued a claim of disability discrimination, which the agency won because the court found the vet was not hired because of interviewing poorly. The fact that the description of how the interview went reflected negative stereotypes about the disabled that could not be aligned with the vet’s actual personality did not persuade the court otherwise.
Laws are only meaningful to the extent they are enforced by investigative agencies and the courts. But even where a vet might otherwise prevail, he or she cannot do so without knowing what protections are available. A just released report from the Merit Systems Protection Board helps in that regard: Veteran Hiring in the Civil Service: Practices and Perceptions.
Here’s hoping claims of being grateful for the service of veterans is someday matched by full enforcement of laws protecting their employment rights. In the meantime, our firm is available to make sure you can maximize the benefits of your military service when it comes to federal employment. Among other things, that may mean enforcing your rights not to be bypassed without a chance to respond or not being punished for having been on military leave.
Here’s the video of our client’s testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding EPA obstruction of its own OIG…Start at 28:28 if your video player doesn’t take you there automatically.
Energy and Environment Daily has published a story about our client’s upcoming congressional testimony. . .Our attorney David Schleicher is noted in the article as commenting that, “Whether a taxpayer, an entity regulated by EPA, or an environmental group — a healthy and independent OIG is in everyone’s best interest.” UPDATE 5/6/2014@10:15 ET–The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has the testimony posted here.
Click here for a further story from the Washington Times on EPA’s obstruction of its Office of Inspector General, now with details of our client’s expected testimony.
Our client, EPA OIG Special Agent Elisabeth Heller Drake, was mentioned in this recent Washington Times article about the EPA Administrator halting an investigation. Our attorney David Schleicher will accompany her on May 7, 2014 to her testimony before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. We applaud her courage in speaking out.