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I'm a former federal employee. Can I find an atty who will represent me in a hostile workplace suit and be paid if he win?

Mulino, OR |

I resigned from a job I'd been moved to. I was moved to that job, a job for which I was not qualified. I was moved because I participated in a gov't idea program that highlighted a failing of the agency. This seemed to trigger hostility. Btwn my participation in the program & me leaving, I felt the workplace had become hostile. Before the move, I received two letters, one unofficial that seemed to be rough notes & another, official based on the first, that elaborated the same allegations; poor performance, bad attitude, doing unauthorized work. Before the allegations, I'd won several in-agency awards and received several interagency commendations. I did not use any of the programs to address harassment; EEO, grievance, etc. because employee harassment increases in the interim.

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Attorney answers 3


Employee rights attorneys almost always work on contingency. The challenge is finding a good one that thinks your case is worth the risk. Try you County Bar Association for a referral, or

David A. Mallen offers answers on Avvo for general information only. This offer of free, general answers is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you need specific advice regarding your legal question, you should consult an attorney confidentially. Many experienced California labor and employment attorneys, including David A. Mallen offer no-risk legal consultations to employers and employees at no charge. David A. Mallen is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, as well as the California Labor Commissioner and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Failure to take legal action within the time periods prescribed by law could result in the loss of important legal rights and remedies.


The time limits to pursue any employment-related action against the federal government is very, very short. If your claim is based on unlawful discrimination, you have only 45 days from the date of the unlawful act (the termination) to initiate your claim with the agency's internal EEO. Please see my Avvo guide to the EEO complaint process for federal government employees:

If it is not a discrimination matter but instead something covered by the Merit Systems Protection Board, you have only 30 days to file your claim.

If you are still within your time limits and wish to proceed with an attorney, you can find a plaintiffs employment attorney on the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) web site NELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the country for attorneys representing working people. You can search by location and practice area. Also, NELA has affiliates in every state and many cities which are listed on the NELA site. Not all NELA attorneys are named on the web site or affiliate site. This should not influence your selection; attorneys can choose whether or not to purchase a listing in the national directory, and each affiliate has its own rules for listing. Make sure the attorney lists that he or she practice federal employment law; this is an area that most employment law attorneys are not familiar with.

Also, be prepared for disappointment. A forced resignation (constructive discharge) case is extremely difficult to prove.

I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***


There are several readily identifiable issues in your situation that merit specific discussion with skilled and experienced counsel in your search for a qualified attorney willing to accept your case on contingency. First, "hostile workplace" is a very specific term when used in the legal sense, and does not mean what you might expect based on plain English. Nothing that you have described in your post establishes the legal circumstance of "hostile workplace." Second, choosing not to use the procedures and remedies available in your employment for employment disputes because you do not have faith in the efficacy of those processes will not necessarily be found to have been appropriate or necessary conduct on your part. You have a very difficult case here and the window of time for legal action is relatively short. Reach out for consultations with potentially suitable attorneys without delay.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.