January 20, 2021

Message to the Members

By Ed Monahan, Editor-In-Chief

We are thrilled to bring you our first-ever theme issue, focusing on public sector employment issues.

First up, we have an article by Justin Dillon and Anthony F. Vergnetti that examines the thorny issues surrounding state and federal government internal investigations. An important aspect of an investigation involves what, if any, protections an employee may be entitled to. Government agents often provide Garrity warnings or Kalkines warnings to those involved in internal investigations. The piece explains the two warnings and highlights the protections that they may afford.

Next, we have a piece by Karen Dimond about the due process rights of public employees when they are terminated. Dimond’s article discusses some of the related seminal case law, notably Board of Regents v. Roth and Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, as well as the forms of recovery available to public sector employees.

We also have a piece on technology, social media and public employees by Ted Hirt. Hirt, a professorial lecturer in law at the George Washington University Law School, and formerly with the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, explains the challenges posed by a public employee’s use of communications technology. He provides several recommendations for the appropriate use of social media and other internet-based technologies in the public employer setting.

Additionally, we have an inspiring piece about some of our extraordinary public sector lawyer colleagues. GPSLD program specialist Alison Hill highlights the work of our 2020 national award winners and their outstanding accomplishments. Because the pandemic prevented us from celebrating in person with the winners, we produced video interviews with the awardees. You can access those at www.americanbar.org/groups/government_public/awards.

Many federal employees know that the Merit Systems Protection Board’s (MSPB) mission is to “promote an effective federal workforce free of prohibited personnel practices.” However, the MSPB is currently inactive because all three positions on the board are vacant. Wendy Muchman and Mary Foster, a professor of law and adjunct professor of law, respectively, at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, discuss the vacancies on the MSPB and what this means for federal employee whistleblowers.

And we conclude with a piece by GPSLD Associate Director Katherine Mikkelson, who continues her exploration of suffragists (see Winter 2019 issue), this time focusing on the contributions of black women lawyers.

We always appreciate your feedback and comments on these articles, as well as your ideas for topics that interest you. Feel free to reach out to me at GPSLD@americanbar.org.