Skip to main content
Kristin Alden

Kristin Alden’s Answers

32 total

  • Is the non-compete still enforceable considering any current efforts at my new employer could not impact the old employer?

    Left an employer recently where I had signed a 12-month non-compete agreement in the original employment agreement (signed in 2010). The agreement stipulated that I would not work on business opportunities at the same federal agencies as I had at ...

    Kristin’s Answer

    The law regarding non-competes is slightly different in VA, MD and DC, but all say that the non-compete must be reasonable. The "reasonableness" depends on several factors, including the length of time, the geographical exclusion, the industry, and the scope of activities. It's impossible to give an accurate answer without knowing which state controls the agreement and the exact language of the agreement. You should also look to the extenuating circumstances, with the suspended/disqualification of the government contractor. Without the agreement and knowing more, it's impossible to give an accurate answer and you should talk with a lawyer. When you do, be prepared to provide a copy of the agreement and all the information you have with your former employer, including the status of their disqualification/ suspension/ debarment, any appeals, etc. If you don't have this information, SAM (system for award management) information, might provide some of the data. You'll also want to know if your former company has exhausted all their appeals.

    See question 
  • Do you know of any attorneys who specialize in employment and disability law

    I am a disabled veteran as well as a federal gov't employee interested speaking to an attorney about filing a law suit

    Kristin’s Answer

    In your search for an attorney, it may be wise to focus on attorneys who are especially familiar with federal sector employment matters. With some exceptions, substantive law (e.g., "what is discrimination?") applies the same to corporations and government employees. However, the procedures and deadlines for federal employees are very different than the procedures and deadlines for private-sector employees. Additionally, if you are dealing with veteran's preference, that's a topic that federal sector employment attorneys are more likely to be familiar with. Federal employees typically have more rights than non-federal employees; veterans working for the government may have even broader rights, depending on the situation.

    See question 
  • I work for the Fed Govt & am under FMLA. I used all my FMLA hrs for the yr, but the yr's up in March. I'm afraid I'll get fired.

    I turned in a Reasonable Accommodation req to use LWOP for any leave until March 3 wks ago. The deadline to respond was Tues. Instead the Reasonable Accommodation Coord sent an e-mail saying that the agency couldn't make the deadline, but will let...

    Kristin’s Answer

    You have raised several issues. Without knowing all the details of your situation, it's impossible to give on-point advice. That being said, however, here are a few things for you to consider: a) initiate an informal EEO complaint regarding the current failure to accommodate (but see "c", below); b) apply for advanced sick leave and/or sick leave through the leave bank (if you are not familiar with the leave bank, talk with the RA coordinator and HR); c) you mention a grievance -- if you are a bargaining unit employee, then you have a collective bargaining agreement that may be apply -- but then you also have to choose to pursue EEO claims through the CBA OR the EEO office but you cannot do both; d) talk with a lawyer (and show the lawyer a recent SF50 which will give a hint of what your rights may be); e) learn your rights now so you will be prepared with a plan if the agency does try to take action against you.

    See question 
  • My job is based on my honesty of following codes and project spec. Was slanderous statement by contractor VP do I have case.

    I am an inspector on a project and my ethics is a must. However a VP from the main contractor sent an email to my supervisor and his boss stating I took a key off there employees desk and that this needs to stop. Now my job has caused this contrac...

    Kristin’s Answer

    If you work for the federal government, you legal rights and obligations may be very different than if you work in the private sector. Under either scenario, if you are pointing out that the contractor is not complying with the contract, you might be protected under whistleblower laws. To determine which laws might apply and whether you might have any rights or claims, you should talk with a lawyer and identify the following: a) your employer; b) the type of contract (DoD or other gvt contracts have particular rules that apply) ; c) the types of violations; and d) if employed in the private sector, in which state are you employed, do you have an employment contract, and does the employer have an employee manual.

    See question 
  • Is a Federal agency EEO counselor legally required to respond to my request for an extension to answer Interrogatories?

    I filed an EEO Complaint against my employer, a federal government agency, for Disability discrimination including violations of the Americans with Disability Act. A consulting physician for the agency confirmed that I am disabled under the provi...

    Kristin’s Answer

    I'm a little confused about where you are in the process because the EEO counselor is not usually the same person as the EEO investigator, and both issue reports (but the reports are very different).

    The process is: first an EEO Counseling phase during which the EEO counselor may try to informally resolve the dispute. If that is unsuccessful, then the EEO office issues a Notice advising that you have to file a Formal Complaint within 15 days. After you file the complaint, the EEO counselor has to issue a Counselor's Report within 15 days. After you file the complaint, the agency assigns an investigator to conduct an investigation and issues a Report of Investigation (ROI) within 180 days.

    At the EEO counseling phase, the EEO counselor talks with you and management, sees if the dispute can be easily resolved, and if not, issues an EEO counselor's report summarizing the issue. If this is the report you're talking about, you can: a) send the EEO office a letter/email outlining each discrepancy in the report, and the EEO office should include your letter in the ROI or b) address the discrepancies during the investigation.

    If you're talking about discrepancies in the ROI, you have several options if you request a hearing before an EEOC administrative judge. After filing the hearing request you can address the ROI's inaccuracies in discovery, in a supplement that you file with the Judge (and the agency - never send the judge something without sending it to the agency), in a motion filed with the judge (such as a motion for sanctions), and/or at hearing. Additionally, you can notify the Judge of your attempts to get the agency to correct the deficient ROI.

    You have also asked if you are entitled to an extension of time to respond to interrogatories. The regulations do not give an easy answer to this. If the EEO counselor issued the interrogatories to you, you can ask for an extension in which case the agency will probably ask for an extension of the 30-day period by which they are supposed to complete the EEO counseling. If the investigator issued the interrogatories, the regulations say that you are entitled to 15 days to respond to an investigator's request for information and the regulations do not mention extensions. In our experience, it is very rare (but not unheard of) for investigators to deny extensions of time. However, the agency is required to produce the ROI within 180 days after you filed your formal complaint (or longer if you amended your complaint). If your extension will threaten the agency's ability to meet its 180 deadline, you should anticipate that the agency will be reluctant to give you an extension unless you also agree to extend the investigative period.

    If the investigator did not include your evidence in the ROI, you can submit it to the judge (after requesting the hearing). You may also have grounds to file a motion for sanctions against the agency. A consultation with an attorney who specializes in federal sector employment law can advise you on whether a motion for sanctions would be prudent in your circumstances.

    You also mention that the agency has initiated removal proceedings. If those proceedings are still on-going, we encourage you to consult with an attorney right away, as you usually have a brief period of time to challenge the notice of proposed removal. If the agency decides to remove you, you might have a right to appeal to the MSPB. If you think you have MSPB appeal rights (and/or union rights), you should consult with your union and/or an attorney to determine which path -- EEO, MSPB or union grievance - is best for challenging the removal, as you can only choose one.

    See question 
  • Employer forcing me to exhaust all leave before returning back to modified duty status? Federal Government Position.

    I have been on a modified duty status, light duty, since a work place injury in January of 2015. My injury was intensified by an out of work accident, preventing me from returning to normal duty status earlier. Since the first, work place injury, ...

    Kristin’s Answer

    Your situation may trigger several different possibilities, including FMLA leave, reasonable accommodations, FECA/OSHA, discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act, and reprisal/retaliation. Because you are a federal employee, the avenue for pursuing each of these possible claims may require following different regulations and rules. If you have any EEO claims (and at first blush, it appears you likely do), your deadlines may be very short. If you are a member of a union or are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, you may have even more options. Typically you cannot simultaneously pursue all possible option and you have to choose one. To make sure you pursue the strongest claims and don't miss any deadlines, we recommend you consult with an attorney familiar with federal sector employment matters.

    See question 
  • Background checks for employment - Suitability Determination

    I am a contractor receiving a suitability determination letter. There are two things (misuse of a government computer and AWOL) they want me to answer on the eQip. This is due to my filing an EEO against my former agency. The former agency removed...

    Kristin’s Answer

    If i understand correctly, you work for a federal agency who is conducting a suitability determination. The suitability background investigation raised two issues and the agency is giving you an opportunity to provide additional information before the agency decides whether to grant suitability.

    The grant/denial of suitability will likely determine whether you keep your job. Thus, it is important that you provide clear and convincing evidence to dispel the agency's concerns. We recommend you at least consult with an attorney or firm knowledgeable of federal sector employment matters who can read and interpret the agency's notice and help you respond -- either through an attorney or on your own.

    Whether you choose to meet with an attorney or not, we recommend that you also learn more about the process before responding. Review the OPM website page on suitability information and suitability referrals (google OPM suitability regulations). Review the regulations as well. Look at the referral guidelines and the referral chart. Look at the Douglas Factors (google search again) and incorporate them into your written response to the agency. Again, we recommend that you consult with an attorney AND review this information. This is a complicated area of law and knowledge is power in this kind of situation.

    If the agency denies suitability, the agency will probably fire you. It is unclear whether you had any appeal rights at your first agency and whether those rights followed you to your second agency. A recent SF-50 would likely answer this question. If you have appeal rights and if the agency fires you, you can appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board. If you do not have appeal rights, and if there is reason to think that the suitability determination (and hence the termination) are the result of EEO reprisal, you can pursue remedies through an EEO complaint. If both EEO and Merit Systems apply to you, you should consult with an attorney before making any decisions on how to address the termination, as a wrong decision may cause delay and/or inadvertent waiver of rights/claims.

    When you talk with an attorney, be sure to bring with you all the documents relating to your situation including and most importantly a copy of what you provided your second agency for the background investigation. Also bring information concerning your first EEO, the proposed removal, the AWOL, the refunding of the AWOL, the suspension, the resignation, a copy of the resignation SF-50 and your appointment SF-50 at the second agency, and your correspondence with the BI investigator. All this information will help the lawyer advise you.

    See question 
  • I caught my manager shaving my hours and using my vacation hours to cover it up. Should I hire an attorney?

    I've been working with this organization since May 2014. A co-worker brought it to my attention that her hours was being shaved in June 2014. Soon after she made the complaint, I noticed that my time was being changed as well. For example, I worke...

    Kristin’s Answer

    Your short question is "should i hire an attorney?". The answer is: absolutely. An attorney can walk you through the total possible recovery for what's and advise you on the best course. Good luck.

    See question 
  • My EEO Discrimination Complaint is over 180 days. What are my options moving forward?

    Sept. 29, 2014 is when my complaint was accepted to be investigated by EEO. As of today, I still don't have an investigator assigned to my case. In Jan 2015 I removed myself from the hostile work environment and am now working with a different a...

    Kristin’s Answer

    At this time, you have four (4) options. 1. Do nothing and let the agency finish the investigation at their convenience. Because the investigative report may have valuable information which may be useful to proving your claim (and evaluating whether you should and want to file in court), if you intend to go to court, you should consult with an attorney before taking this path. 2. Do nothing and wait for the investigative report and, after you receive the report, still do nothing. If you follow this path, the agency will issue a Final Agency Decision. Upon receipt of the Decision, you can either file in federal court to pursue a trial or seek an appeal at the EEOC's appellate division. If you choose this option and are dissatisfied you cannot later choose option 3 (an AJ hearing). 3. Request a hearing before an EEOC administrative judge (AJ), which is similar to a trial in federal court in many ways, but it is confidential and, typically, less expensive. Depending of where you are located, an AJ hearing may be much faster -- or much slower -- than a court suit. If you choose this path, and if you are dissatisfied with the AJ's decision, you can appeal the AJ's decision to the EEOC's appellate division and/or you can file in federal court and pursue a trial there. If you choose the AJ hearing path, you can also ask the AJ to punish/sanction the agency for its failure to conduct an investigation. Some AJs are more likely than others to grant this kind of motion. A sanctions motion can be very helpful to your case. 4. File in federal court immediately without the benefit of the report of investigation. To learn more about the pro's, con's, and strategies associated with each option, you should talk with a lawyer who knows the process well enough to help you weigh each option. The costs to pursue the case depend on many factors and cannot be answered without more information.

    See question 
  • Does a Plaintiff need to file a some sort of dispositive motion in federal appeals court or just the Defendant?

    The Plaintiff has a Title VII - 'failure to exhaust administrative remedies' case in federal appeals court. The court mentioned a due date for dispositive motion. Should the Plaintiff file a dispositive motion or is this for the Defendant to file...

    Kristin’s Answer

    The issue -- whether you have exhausted your administrative remedies -- can be a complex one in federal court, especially if you brought some, but not all, of your claims to the attention of the EEO office, and depending on how the EEO office addressed those claims.
    Usually when there is an issue about failure to exhaust, the government/defendant raises the issue that the employee/plaintiff failed to exhaust and so, it would seem that the government would file a dispositive motion. However, the Judge could also raise the issues and concerns about exhaustion and could ask both parties to file motions. It's not clear what stage of litigation you are in, what your case is about, and whether you exhausted your admin remedies. To get a better idea of your obligations under the Judge's order, it's best to contact a lawyer. Bring with you all your communications with the EEO office so the lawyer can review the evidence on the exhaustion office. Also bring with you the report of investigation if you want the lawyer to give you an evaluation of the merits of your claims.

    See question