Federal Sector Employment Law Synopsis

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The law governing the relationship between the federal government and its employees is exceedingly complex. In addition to experiencing all the problems present in private sector employee relations, federal employment law possesses its own unique legal challenges. These arise from the overlapping layers of governing law, regulation and policy; the sheer size and complexity of the federal bureaucracy; the continuing presence of the sovereign immunity doctrine, and the sundry negotiated, administrative and federal court avenues available for challenging government employment actions. A unique blend of experience, knowledge and expertise is required to successfully navigate this sea of complexities. Adam J. Conti, founder of the Atlanta law firm of  Adam J. Conti, LLC, is one of only a handful of American attorneys in private practice who are recognized as experts in this highly specialized field.

Adam possesses a truly rare combination of federal employment experience, academic distinction and employment litigation proficiency. He worked for the federal government for ten years, beginning in 1971 in New York City with the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor-Management Services Administration. There, while climbing the career ladder to GS-12, Adam investigated and resolved a wide variety of both private and public sector labor and employment disputes, including the nationwide rerun of officer elections of the United Mine Workers of America. Adam also handled one of the very first filed investigations under when ERISA took effect. In 1976 Adam relocated to Atlanta to supervise the federal sector labor-management relations program in four Southeastern states. When the Civil Service Reform Act took effect in 1979, Adam was transferred in function to the newly created Federal Labor Relations Authority. The following year he was selected as the Assistant to the FLRA's New York Regional Director. In this GM-14 position he supervised fourteen attorneys and labor relations specialists who administered the federal labor-management relations program in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Adam was serving as Acting FLRA Regional Director in New York City the day the air traffic controllers struck in 1980.

In 1981 Adam transferred to the Bronx VA Medical Center where he headed a large urban medical center's labor relations practice. There, as an employee relations specialist, Adam gained broad exposure to all aspects of federal personnel management, including adverse actions, employee appeals, leave administration, position classification, and staffing. Most importantly, in this position Adam obtained an insider's understanding of how the complex federal personnel management system actually operates.

In 1982 Adam left federal service to attend law school. He earned his law degree with several academic awards from Emory Law School in 1984. Adam has an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. with a concentration in labor-management relations from Manhattan's Pace University.

After law school Adam joined the Atlanta management labor law firm of Mack & Bernstein, where he represented many Fortune 500 Corporations in virtually every aspect of labor and employment law. He became a partner in that firm in 1989, and subsequently headed both its employee benefits and litigation practices. During his nine years with Mack & Bernstein, Adam litigated employment cases across the country, wrote academic and professional articles on employment law and gained comprehensive practical employment law experience. Adam has taught public sector employment law at Georgia State University and was a contributor to the American Bar Association's 1995 Committee report on Federal Service Labor and Employment Law. In 1999 Adam chaired two continuing legal education seminars on public sector employment law.

Shortly after joining Mack & Bernstein, Adam's federal sector experience lead him to develop a specialized practice in public sector labor and employment law. He has represented public agencies in employment litigation at the state, county, city and administrative agency levels. In addition, he has represented federal employees from laborers to Senior Executive Service members, across the United States and overseas.

Today, Adam together with other  attorneys and staff members of Adam J. Conti, LLC represent federal employees in all types of employment related actions. These include:

Equal employment opportunity complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability and exercise of protected rights under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other anti-discrimination laws and regulations before:
federal agencies under 29 C.F.R. Sec. 1614,
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and
Federal Courts across the nation
Collective bargaining negotiations, union elections, unfair labor practices and grievance arbitration before:
the Federal Labor Relations Authority the Federal Service Impasses Panel, and
Adverse actions based on misconduct and unsatisfactory job performance before:
the Merit Systems Protection Board
Arbitrators, and
the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Individual counseling and representation for federal employees involving all aspects of their employment, including Reductions in force, reorganizations, reassignments, retirement appeals, priority placements, position classification appeals, and misconduct, suitability and security clearance investigations, before:
individual agencies,
the Office of Personnel Management
Department of Defense Agencies
the Merit Systems Protection Board, and
Federal Courts.
Whistle-Blower Protection Act claims and Individual Right of Actions Claims before
the Office of the Special Counsel, and
the Merit Systems Protection Board
First amendment and constitutional claims before;
individual agencies,
the Merit Systems Protection Board, and
Federal Courts
Claims arising under the Federal Torts Claims Act both
Administratively and in
Federal Courts
False Claims Act claims in Federal Courts;
Wage and hour claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act;
Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act claims both
Administratively and in
Federal Courts.
Retirement applications and employee benefit questions
Federal Employee Compensation Act Claims before
the Office of Workers Compensation Programs
the Board of Hearings and Review and 
the Employees Compensation Appeals Board
Compensation, reimbursement and other financial and payment claims before
individual agencies and
the Comptroller General of the United States
Classification claims before
Administrative Agencies and
the Office of Personnel Management
Alternative Dispute Resolution of any claims before
arbitrators and other
adr resources
Counseling federal employees and federal employers on all varieties of employment related problems and issues.

In addition, Adam has represented federal employees in negotiated and administrative grievance proceedings, a wide variety of administrative hearings, before arbitrators and in various other alternative dispute resolution forums. Adam's published cases include:

Martin v. Merriday, 706 F.Supp. 42 (N.D. Ga. 1989) (Sexual harassment and individual liability of supervisor in federal employment);
Peterson v. Atlanta Housing Authority, 998 F.2d 904 (11th Cir. 1993) (First Amendment and due process claims for local government employees) ;
Harmond v. Cavazos, 56 FEP Cases (BNA) 142 (N.D. Ga. 1991) (Race discrimination and retaliation in federal employment);
Burchfield v. Derwinski, 782 F.Supp. 532 (D. Colo. 1992) ( Sex discrimination and retaliation claims of federal employees) and
Costin v. DHHS,(MSPB 1996) (Federal whistleblower receives retroactive promotion.)

Quality legal services from experienced attorneys are not inexpensive, especially when litigation becomes necessary. The firm's hourly rates range from $150 to $275. Adam's standard hourly rate is currently $275.00. Although attorneys' fees can be frequently recovered from public sector agencies in employment litigation, this is not always the case. Even where recovery is legally possible, the employee must first prevail, additional hurdles to fee recovery must frequently be overcome, there is protracted delay in recovery of fees and a fee award may not fully compensate the attorneys for all time devoted to the representation. Because of these considerations, the firm does not accept representation of federal employees on a contingency fee basis, except for compelling FTCA and False Claims Act claims. The firm does offer representation on a fixed negotiated fee basis and other alternatives to hourly billing. We evaluate each case individually and are usually successful in structuring a fee arrangement tailored to the client's individual circumstances. The firm welcomes inquiries regarding representation from both public employers and public employees.

We would be delighted to assess your particular situation and to respond to any questions you may have. Please call Nancy Tenga at (404) 531-0701 to begin the process. Or click here to send us an E-mail for more information.

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2000-2002 Adam J. Conti, All rights reserved. Last revised October 26, 2005.

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2001 Adam J. Conti, LLC, all rights reserved