Giving advice on federal personnel matters and guiding managers and supervisors through the complicated set of federal regulations that govern the employee-employer relationship in the federal government is often difficult and frustrating. Ensuring no violations of the merit system principles, regulations, laws, policies and precedents - well, that can be tough, too.
Your personal and professional liability exposure increases with each new decision or recommendation on any disciplinary or misconduct matter, compensation, benefit, job analysis, staffing, recruitment, credentialing, training, etc. Common allegations of wrongdoing against HR Specialists resulting in investigations include - but are not limited to - the following:
- Maintaining confidentiality
- Adhering to the Privacy Act and Regulations
- Assisting agency management in pre-selection of a candidate
- An allegation of misconduct on complex and often controversial conduct-related issues
- MAn allegation of misconduct in performance issues (i.e. leave and absences, hours of work, drug and alcohol abuse, grievances/complaints/appeals, disciplinary and adverse actions, etc.)
- A management, OIG or OSC investigation/complaint
- A complaint from the public
- Any allegation of wrongdoing
Assuming these matters will be automatically dismissed or defended against by your agency would be a mistake. Defending against allegations of misconduct or other wrongdoing is difficult and in many cases it is necessary to hire and pay for outside legal counsel - even if the allegation is ultimately disproved. Having an attorney experienced in federal personnel and employment law to advise you of your legal rights and obligations and also the parameters of the law under which you've been accused is imperative in the initial investigative stages.
HR Specialists can also be exposed to civil suits and criminal investigations, albeit at a much lesser degree than the administrative exposures. These civil suits are typically called Bivens actions and the DOJ has the discretion as to whether or not it will defend you in a personal capacity lawsuit arising out of your scope of employment. A federal employee can be investigated criminally for even the most trivial matters and false allegations.
FEDS continually works with federal employee communities, professional organizations, and associations - to ensure that we provide the protection Feds need to do their jobs. Please read what these associations and other industry leaders have to say about professional protection and why they endorse FEDS over all other federal employee professional liability insurance carriers.