This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.
By John V. Berry, Esq.
We represent federal employees in federal agency investigations. Generally, most federal employment misconduct cases start as a result of a complaint by other federal employees alleging misconduct.
When a federal employee is notified that they are under investigation or suspects that they may be investigated regarding possible misconduct, it is very important to speak to a federal employment attorney for advice and possible representation.
Common Types of Federal Employee Investigations
While it is very difficult to cover each type of potential misconduct that a federal employee might be investigated for, some of the more frequent investigations involve:
- Misconduct in the Workplace
- Lack of Candor
- Misuse of a Government Computer/Internet
- Misuse of a Government Credit Card, Vehicle or Travel Card
- Discrimination or Harassment in the Workplace
- Time Card/Attendance Issues
- Off-Duty Criminal, Alcohol or Traffic Conduct
- Security Violations
- Disrespectful Conduct in the Workplace
A Typical Federal Employee Investigation
The usual process for a federal employee investigation begins when the federal employee is notified (usually with very short notice or even the same day) that an investigator needs to speak with them about an issue. Investigators do not usually provide information about the nature of the complaint or investigative issues until the federal employee arrives at the meeting.
The investigator can be a supervisor, an agency investigator, an individual from human resources, or an agent assigned by the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). Generally, a misconduct investigation starts with very little advice or information about what a federal employee should expect or what rights are available to them.
In many cases a federal employee shows up for a scheduled meeting and an investigator just starts asking them questions. In other cases, the interviewer may start by asking the federal employee to sign a statement agreeing to be voluntarily interviewed and waiving their rights. This is the most usual method and offers little protection to a federal employee.
In other cases, a federal employee may be asked to sign what is known as a Kalkines notice, understanding that they are being ordered to speak to investigators under penalty of disciplinary action for not doing so. In such a case, many investigations can then lead to sustained federal employee discipline and potential appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Deciding when and how to provide testimony to agency investigators is a case-by-case decision. Each case varies, so obtaining legal advice is very important.
Federal Employee Interviews
An interview can last 30 minutes to many hours. Following the interview, many investigators summarize the testimony given by the federal employee and attempt to have them sign an official statement (or sworn declaration) about the information they provided. It is very important for a federal employee to carefully review the written summary. A federal employee will want to ensure that investigators do not insert their own characterizations (many times incorrect) of the statements made into a final written statement signed or sworn to by them.
Retain a Federal Employment Attorney for Advice or Representation
Having a federal employment lawyer represent or advise a federal employee during the investigation process is important. An attorney can advise and/or represent a federal employee before, after, and in many cases, during the investigative interview. It is important to have such counsel early because doing so can help prevent or mitigate potential disciplinary action later.
Furthermore, it can often help that an investigator knows that the federal employee is represented by counsel because they tend to follow the rules for doing so more carefully. Furthermore, should the issues involved turn potentially criminal in nature, it is important to be represented.
It is important for a federal employee to be represented by a federal employment attorney during investigative interviews and misconduct investigations. Berry & Berry, PLLC represents federal employees in these types of federal employment investigations and can be contacted at (703) 668-0070 or www.berrylegal.com to arrange for an initial consultation.
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Great Clips at South Lakes Village Center (Reston, Virginia) is seeking hair donors to participate in the Wigs for Kids program this Valentines Week. If you meet the minimum requirements and would like to donate your hair for children fighting cancer, we would love to host you in our salon this Valentine’s Week for a free haircut.
Hair donations must be a minimum of 12 inches
Hair donations must be clean and stored/packaged completely dry.
Hair donations cannot be permed, color-treated, or highlighted.
Temporary coloring or highlights that wash out are acceptable but must be completely washed out before cutting. Gray hair is accepted.
Peace in Gaza: Prayer Liturgy and Community Discussion for Peace in Arlington VA, Sunday, Feb. 11, 10:15 AM
Prayer, liturgy, and community discussion for peace in Gaza, an immediate cease fire and resumption of humanitarian aid will be hosted by Nova Catholic Community. The focus will be Pope Francis’ call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, resumption of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, and peace talks for a lasting and just peace for all people in the region.
Discussion will follow at Noon on US military role in the conflict and appropriate steps the US should take to foster peace and rebuilding. Light lunch served.
The Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Active Bystander Certification course, also known as Active Bystander, is the premier training program to prepare civilians for how to respond during an intentional violent event and to address life-threatening emergencies.
Similar to FEMA’s