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Response to: Who pays the legal fees? The federal employee or the federal government?

Who pays the legal fees? The federal employee or the federal government?

We are able to provide information specific to your position if you are interested.

For administrative/disciplinary matters: the FEDS PLI policy pays for legal defense up to $200,000 for any disciplinary or judicial sanction proceeding or administrative investigations into alleged misconduct from any act, error, or omission committed by a federal employee while doing your job. This includes any Internal Affairs, OIG, GAO, OSC, EEO, Congressional investigation, etc. – or any management directed investigation that could result in an action against you. We can provide examples of common allegations for your position, if you’d like.

For Civil Lawsuits: Federal employees in all types of jobs and performing all kinds of federal functions can be sued personally by private persons or other entities for alleged violations of their constitutional and common law rights. These types of suits are more likely, however, to be brought against those employees that have frequent interactions with the public including fund and contract decisions and appropriations, law enforcement employees, SSA employees, IRS employees, (the list goes on and on). While the Department of Justice (DOJ) will represent the named federal employee in most of these and other civil suits (and the employee will have some level of immunity to avoid personal liability), this is not always the case. There are lawsuits filed against federal employees and managers in which legal counsel must be hired and for which a federal employee can be held personally liable. Click here to read about real world scenarios. The FEDS policy protects you from civil exposure in 2 major ways: Legal defense if the DOJ has taken the position not to defend; and it pays damages at either the one million or two million limit should an employee be found liable for which the agency will not indemnify. An employee can be held liable and be forced to pay the judgment even when the DOJ is defending the case. In other words, if DOJ defends and loses, the employee can still be liable. Only a small percentage of the civil lawsuits filed against federal employees result in a situation in which the federal employee must provide for their own defense and/or result in the federal employee having to pay a personal judgment. If you are the one who falls through the cracks, the losses could be substantial. For this reason, civil protection – in addition to the administrative and disciplinary benefits – is available for federal employees at an affordable cost through professional liability insurance.

For Criminal Matters: The FEDS policy pays for legal defense up to $100,000 for any criminal proceeding or investigation into any act, error, or omission committed by a federal employee while rendering a professional service. A federal employee can be investigated criminally for even the most trivial matters and false allegations—and if it happens to you without insurance, you must pay for your own legal representation. This does happen to good employees and managers. Some of the most common criminal investigations involving federal employees are due to conflict of interest statutes where intent is not a prerequisite to prove the crime, misappropriation of federal funds, release of privacy act or other statutorily protected information and/or something arising out of an allegation of misuse of position or authority. Again, we can provide specific information about your position. I hope I provided the information you were looking for. If you’d like you can call us at 301-229-2481.

Brenda Wilson responded on behalf of FEDS.

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