Updated: May 5, 2023
We often receive consulting questions with the biggest question perhaps being, “why do I need a consultant or advocate”? Well, government agencies have access to expert consultation and transactional services in the areas of employee & labor relations and EEOC litigation. This is all without cost to agency managers. These experts provide government managers professional consultation and transactional support litigating against federal, state, and local public employees. We believe all government employees should have the same access to this level of expertise and transactional support at reasonable cost.
Additionally, our consultants take a holistic approach in advising affected employees and will consider many variables not normally considered by legal counsel. For example, we consider the emotional and financial toll prolonged administrative, and possibly civil litigation will take on the employee. We also do not believe in pursuing cases merely because you can or just want to. We constantly assess your case from the perspective of possibly achieving a settlement (always a priority) to prevailing at a hearing. We also consider whether achievable practical remedies will yield you the results you seek. In some instances, prevailing at an EEO hearing may result in no tangible award (remedy).
These questions are our most frequently asked concerning our consulting services. Though we try to provide as much information as possible, you may have a question not included here. Please feel free to contact us.
Do you offer a free initial consultation?
Yes. We provide an initial no cost and no obligation consultation. This no obligation consultation typically lasts less than one half hour and is conducted telephonically. The primary objective of this consultation is to determine 1) if the services we provide are applicable to your situation and 2) if the services provided would be cost-effective. Requests for a no cost consultation can be initiated by clicking here (fasted method).
Do You Require a Retainer Agreement or Contract?
In most cases no. However, in instances in which clients intend to hire us for twelve hours or more at one time, we may execute a retainer of agreement. Generally, the fees we charge are not sufficient enough to justify an agreement or contract.
How Available Are Consultants to Clients?
Our consultants are perhaps the most available you will encounter. Upon establishing a retainer or flat rate agreement, clients receive the direct cell phone number to their consultant’s dedicated client phone. Calls, text messages, and emails are responded to eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year including holidays. Texts and short emails are typically responded to within minutes and voicemail within a few hours at most. Our consultants respond after hours and on weekends (that is when most actually clients prefer), typically working an 18/7 schedule.
Will You Work with My Union Representative?
Yes. We appreciate working with union representatives. Often, this arrangement can result in cost savings and expedite our entry into your case this saving you money. We have received positive feedback from labor unions in this regard. Some of the unions we have worked with are listed here.
Do I Need An Attorney or Union Representative?
Attorneys are not required in cases involving administrative personnel matters (federal, state, or local), though you may prefer an attorney. There are instances in which we will strongly recommend you obtain legal representation. Rarely will we accept you as a client if you are already working with legal counsel. We will even advise you of what to look for with an attorney and even review the retainer agreement for you at no charge. In fact, you can even have a friend, family member, or coworker represent you directly or indirectly since you are most likely dealing with an administrative matter. It is a common misconception only attorneys or the union can represent or advise federal employees in personnel matters. For example, you can hire a consultant to assist you before the MSPB, EEOC, FLRA, OSC, or even at arbitration because we are consultants, not your direct representative. You do not need the permission of the agency or union to retain our services. In some cases, you may want to hire a consultant to handle every aspect of your case. To save even more money, you can retain a consultant to consult with you or just (for example) prepare your MSPB appeal, write a grievance response, write your response to a proposed action, prepare you for your oral response to a deciding official, review your documents, prepare your post-arbitration brief, etc.. If it is determined by the consultant at anytime you need an attorney, or should otherwise seriously make such a consideration, you will be advised accordingly.
Why Should I Hire a Consultant and Not Use a Union Steward?
In short order, we do what most unions cannot. While we are all strong union supporters, and some of us were once union officials, it has been our experience most federal unions at the local level of operations are simply incapable of representing or advising members in serious matters such as adverse actions (removals and suspensions greater the fourteen days), EEO complaints, serious investigations, non selection matters, and disciplinary actions. This is particularly pertinent now as federal unions recently lost their Official Time under Executive Order 13837 (later restored by President Biden) . Though portions of the Executive Order were overturned (later reinstated), most union officials already retired or given up their local union positions and it will be a while until they recover. There are rare exceptions. However, chances are your union is not the rare exception. Our consultants receive top-level third-party training throughout the year and have significant academic and professional credentials. They practice in this field on a daily basis, a requirement to be in our group. Regardless, we would like to work with your union in assisting you if at all possible. Many unions will even pay our fees or reimburse you for our fees.
Who Will Provide the Consultation?
Consulting is provided directly by senior level federal labor and employe relations experts who provide executive level consulting and transactional litigation services. These consultants have practiced before the MSPB, EEOC, FLRA, arbitrators, OSC, and the FMCS. Many are certified mediators.
Will My Union Pay Your Fees?
Sometimes. Some Unions will even contact us on your behalf or seek telephonic consultation (i.e.; initial or second opinion) regarding your situation. Usually, the more serious the issue, the more likely they will either pay fees directly or reimburse you for fees paid. Nothing prevents any union from paying consulting fees on behalf of members or reimbursing those fees to members (more common).
Do you provide legal services?
No. Consultants do not provide legal services. Consultants provide specialty consulting and advocacy services in the wide area of administrative federal personnel matters. We also provide transactional administrative litigation services including written appeals, discovery requests, preparation of motions and responses to motions, evidence preparation, crafting of EEO complaint claims and bases, affidavit support, etc.. These areas include (not all inclusive) discipline, adverse actions, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), retirement, personnel action coding, administrative investigations, FOIA, Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) appeals, Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) actions, arbitration, document reviews, union representation oversight, and a variety of other matters.
Is the money I spend on consulting fees recoverable if I prevail at hearing?
No. Unlike attorney fee’s, which are recoverable at hearing if you prevail, fees paid to a consultant are not. More specifically, attorney’s fees can only be paid for services rendered by members of the Bar and law clerks, paralegals or law students under the supervision of Bar members. 29 CFR 1614.501 (e)(1)(iii); Jenkins v. Department of the Air Force, 98 FEOR 1199 , EEOC No. 01962196 (EEOC OFO 1998).
Do you provide consulting support for civil actions?
No. We do not provide direct support to clients concerning civil actions. You must secure a qualified attorney in such matters. However, we have provided consulting services directly to attorneys in the past.
Is a Consultant Less Expensive than an Attorney?
In every case, without exception, yes. Our recent experiences indicate an initial retainer for an attorney to represent you in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case is $10,000 and a Merit Systems Protection Board initial retainer can be as high as $15,000 depending on your geographic location.
At What Stage Should I Hire a Consultant?
The earlier you hire a consultant, the more money you are likely to save and the greater the case litigation efficiency. We prefer to take a preventative approach rather than a reactive approach to problem solving. For example, during a proposed removal stage, your response to the deciding official is absolutely critical. This is your chance to end the proposed action and return your life to normal without further administrative litigation. If you fail to convince the deciding official he or she should mitigate or rescind the proposed removal, your next stop is either arbitration (if union approves) or the Merit Systems Protection Board and in some cases to EEO and MSPB (“Mixed Case”).
Can a Consultant Just Assist Me and Not “Take my whole case”?
Yes, as this is the actual preferred method. We prefer you retain control and save money by doing as much as you can with our assistance only as needed as determined by you. We can provide advice, research, second opinions, write your responses, prepare you for deposition, assist you in discovery, write your discovery motions, and anything else case related. By using us in this way, what could have cost you $15,000 may only cost you $1,200. We call this Indirect Representation. It is the least expensive, yet still effective, method for clients in nearly every situation.
Is “a La Carte” Consulting Effective?
Yes, in every instance. You only hire a consultant as needed. However, hiring us for a number of hours guarantees the availability of a consultant. There is never an obligation to continue with services. There is never an obligation to pay a $10,000 retainer. However, in situations in which we believe the client needs an attorney, we will make that recommendation.
Do I Designate the Consultant as My Representative?
No, unless specifically directed to do so by your consultant.
Are Consultants Employees of InformedFED?
No. Consultants are associated with InformedFED as contributors or independent advisors but they are not employees. If you hire a consultant, the transaction is between you and that individual consultant. We merely provide a vetted referral and coordination service in these cases. Consultant availability may vary widely at times.
How do I Pay the Consultant?
All payments are made via Apple Pay (preferred for security reasons), PayPal or Venmo for security reasons though individual consultants may accept other methods of payment at their discretion. This invoice will detail the service agreement or arrangement. All invoices are payable in full on date received or shortly thereafter. Consulting services are not secured until payment is made and availability of a consultant may change quickly. You can see our fee schedule by clicking here.
I Tried to Pay via Apple Pay and Received a “Suspected Fraud Warning”.
The reason why we recommend Apple Pay is security. In this regard, you may receive a warning as described above. According to Apple, “Warnings are presented when you attempt to send money via Apple Cash to someone outside your contacts or if Apple considers a transaction risky. To use Apple Cash safely, pay attention to these warnings.” As we are likely not in your contacts list and have never conducted payments over Apple Pay with you, you are likely to get this warning. It is ok to click the “send anyway” button if you elected to have us send an Apple Pay request to you. Alternatively, you can just send payment directly to the phone number provided by the consultant (each consultant has a client only mobile phone number). You may also elect to remit payment via another means or not remit payment at all and not obtain services at all. Either option is ok with us. We will never pressure you.
Are Your Services Tax Deductible?
The contents of this website (InformedFED.com) are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. Consultants at InformedFED are not attorneys. They are senior level practitioners of employee labor relations and EEO. The contents of this website, and the posting and viewing of the information on this website, should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or employment advice in any particular circumstance or situation. The information presented on this website may not reflect the most current legal or regulatory developments. No action should be taken in reliance on the information contained on this website and we disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this site to the fullest extent permitted by law. InformedFED is comprised of independent senior level practitioners and consultants who are not employees of InformedFED.