Employee Relations Training Courses

Instructor and two course attendees view document in hand

Attorneys, HR/ER/LR Specialists and EEO practitioners will benefit from FELTG’s Employee Relations onsite training courses. Designed to provide practical guidance to help agency employees successfully navigate the world of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and related HR topics, these courses offer training on the most current, relevant performance, conduct, and leave topics that impact federal agencies, including how to comply with President Trump’s Executive Orders as they pertain to performance management, plus new leave regulations, reasonable accommodation, and more.

ER-1: Fundamentals of MSPB: Nuts & Bolts (1 day)

This one-day training provides a detailed overview of the Merit Systems Protection Board and how it works, how the Board’s lack of quorum impacts case processing, and how to navigate the MSPB appeal process. This course is an excellent introduction for those new to the field, as well as those trying to align their actions and policies with new laws, regulations, and executive orders.

Course Topics: The foundations of accountability; basic principles of performance; basic principles of conduct actions; successfully navigating the Board’s appeal process; responding to affirmative defenses (allegations of whistleblower reprisal or civil rights discrimination).

ER-2: Misconduct-Based Actions (1 day)

This one-day training will explain the statutory bases for disciplinary actions, including the Civil Service Reform Act and the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. From there the class will discuss the step-by-step process required to take a successful and defensible misconduct-based action, including evidence necessary to support a penalty selection, due process, and alternatives to traditional discipline.

Course Topics: The Five Essential Elements of disciplinary cases; burdens of proof; penalty selection and defense; MSPB’s power to mitigate a penalty; the comparator employee dilemma; the over-arching power of progressive discipline.

ER-3: Unacceptable Performance-Based Actions (1 day)

When it comes to poor performance, the one action you can’t afford to take is not taking action. Yet, when you do take a performance-based action, there are limitless mistakes that can trip you up and result in lost appeals. Participants will learn how to avoid those routine mistakes, handle minimally successful ratings, address post-performance demonstration period poor performance, and much more.

Course Topics: Elements of performance cases; burdens of proof; drafting a defensible performance standard; implementing an opportunity period to demonstrate acceptable performance (formerly a PIP); accommodating disability-related performance problems; top mistakes agencies routinely make; how to remove a poor performer in 31 days.

ER-4: Absence Management: Controlling Leave Use & Abuse (1-2 days)

Is there a more maddening or confusing element of workplace management than navigating the alphabet soup of employee leave – AWOL, LWOP, FMLA, etc.? Whether you’re an HR professional, employee relations practitioner, EEO specialist, supervisor, or agency counsel, you have undoubtedly faced a leave-related challenge. During your tenure. This one- or two-day class will cover all types of leave and leave entitlements, ensuring you know when to say “yes” and when you can legally say “no” to a leave request. Participants will leave with the knowledge and skills to deal with any leave situation, whether it’s handling an ADA reasonable accommodation request for leave or taking a Medical Inability to Perform removal.

Course Topics: Types of leave and leave entitlements; overviews of the Family and Medical Leave Act; Leave Without Pay; AWOL; the latest details on paid family leave; leave stacking; leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act; leave as religious accommodation; leave abuse; alternative, modified and compressed work schedules; excessive absences; non-disciplinary medical removals.

ER-5: FMLA Law & Policy (1 day)

Even though the Family and Medical Leave Act has been around for more than 25 years, there are still significant numbers of questions about certain aspects of the law and OPM’s regulations – particularly regarding the differences between the provisions that relate to federal employees, which notice requirements are enforceable, what medical certification should contain, and what rights a federal employee has to challenge a FMLA determination. Let FELTG guide you to a working knowledge of this confusing and sometimes confounding law.

Course Topics: Federal sector FMLA basics; military family leave; serious health condition developments; medical certification issues; managing intermittent FMLA leave; discipline, FMLA and the under-performer; employee notice issues.


ER-6: MSPB Charges & Penalties (1-2 days)

Selecting the right charges and choosing a defensible penalty is a crucial part of the disciplinary process. FELTG is here to make sure you have the tools you need to make the right decision in employee discipline. This one- or two-day course will cover everything from the differences between charges and specifications, to drafting the proposal letter, to the consistency of penalty quagmire. If you’re a law enforcement agency, this course will include content on the disciplinary process for LEOs. 

Course Topics: Types of charges; parts of a charge; proposing and deciding officials; proving the difficult “intent” charge element; charge drafting; MSPB and Federal Circuit lead cases in penalty determination; charging down and proving up; defending a penalty as reasonable; case law update.

ER-7: Drafting Legally-Sufficient Discipline & Performance Documents (1 day)

Legal writing in federal sector employment law is a specialized craft. FELTG will help you sharpen the skills you need to produce effective, defensible, legally sound discipline and performance documents. Attend this one-day training to ensure that your cases are not lost because of poorly or ambiguously written documents.

Course Topics: The foundations of the civil service; accountability for misconduct; discipline fundamentals and nexus; major options to discipline; probationary employees; misconduct v. unacceptable performance; the five elements of discipline; the procedures of discipline and appeal; drafting proposal notices, decision letters, performance standards and Performance Demonstration Period implementation letters.


ER-8: Conducting Effective Misconduct Investigations (2-3 days)

So, you’ve been told there’s potential misconduct among the ranks at your agency, and you’ve been tasked with performing an administrative investigation. Where do you begin? This thorough two- to three-day training will offer an overview of the substantive law followed by the practical skills needed to conduct the investigation. Attendees will learn procedures and best practices from planning the investigation to interviewing witnesses, assessing evidence, and testifying at hearing.

Course Topics: The principles of misconduct in the federal government; the five elements of discipline; impartiality as an investigator; collecting penalty evidence; criminal v. tort activity in the federal workplace; necessary evidence;  fact-finding; employee legal rights during an investigation; Privacy Act considerations; interviewing difficult witnesses; assessing truthfulness; testifying at hearing.


ER-9: Advanced Employee Relations (3 days)

Being a federal sector Employee Relations Specialist is a tough job. It’s great to know the basics, but the basics don’t always help you when you’re facing challenging situations. That’s when you realize that there is much more to learn. This three-day seminar, interspersed with practical workshops, immerses attendees in training on difficult topics such as figuring out FMLA leave, writing measurable performance criteria, and dealing with technology-related misconduct.

Day 1: Leave and Attendance: Administering leave, with particular emphasis on sick leave, LWOP, and FMLA. Detailed review of sick leave provisions including authorized purposes for use of sick leave, limitations on use of sick leave for family care and bereavement, eligibility to use leave for care, notice requirements, acceptable documentation. Management actions to control use of leave and abuse of sick leave. Detailed review of FMLA provisions including eligibility to invoke FMLA, entitlement, coverage of family members, administration and notice requirements. Acceptable medical documentation under FMLA, definition of serious health condition. Substitution of paid leave. Discipline tied to FMLA. LWOP – when LWOP is mandatory, limits on granting LWOP, employee status while on extended LWOP. Issues related to annual leave and leave transfer, other leave entitlements.

Day 2: Performance Management: Managing performance from system establishment to conducting annual appraisals to taking actions linked to performance. GEAR initiative and other efforts focused on modifying Federal performance management system. Requirements for performance plans, including design of agency systems, rating schemes, and procedures for conducting appraisals. Linkage between appraisal and other personnel management decisions, including reduction-in-force and within-grade increases. Writing effective and measurable performance criteria that will withstand third-party review, including a workshop where participants will do an in-depth review of performance plans. Requirements for successful performance-based actions – from drafting a Performance Demonstration Period notice that will withstand scrutiny to conducting a bona fide DP to ensuring that due process is met in effecting an action on unacceptable performance.

Day 3: Misconduct and Other Related Issues: Implementation of a successful disciplinary program – delegation of authority, role of advisors, warnings and cautions, use of administrative leave. Nexus. Dealing with comparators in determining a penalty. Involuntary actions – resignations and retirements. Ordering and Offering medical examinations. Specific disciplinary situations: handling situations when an employee is unable to perform including excessive leave, disability retirement, separation disability; conduct unbecoming; failure to meet conditions of employment.



Upcoming Labor Relations Training Events

Webinar Series – Handling Behavioral Health Issues in the Federal Workplace
May 21 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Download Registration Form


Shana Palmieri

Course Description

FELTG proudly presents this three-part series on dealing with behavioral health issues in the federal workplace. Join Licensed Clinical Social Worker Shana Palmieri as she guides you through how to avoid, manage and prepare for workplace crises – and properly deal with them should they occur. What are the warning signs that an employee may become violent? What are the best accommodations for employees with various mental health conditions? What’s the best way to intervene when you think an employee is suicidal?

This series is focused on the practical and clinical methods you can take to deal with crises in the workplace. Register for one or all three of these important webinars.

May 21Understanding and Managing Federal Employees with Behavioral Health Issues: Improve performance and success for employees with mental health conditions; effectively accommodate employees with behavioral health conditions; set appropriate boundaries and expectations in the workplace. Note: This class focuses on the practical and clinical side of managing employees with behavioral health conditions, rather than the legal side.

September 24Suicidal Employees in the Federal Workplace: Your Actions Can Save a Life: Identify the signs and symptoms of suicide that indicate the need for professional intervention; effectively communicate to employees about suicide; handle a suicidal crisis in the workplace.
November 12Threats of Violence in the Federal Workplace: Assessing Risk and Taking Action:  Learn the warning signs that violence may be imminent, and the dynamic risk and protective factors for workplace targeted violence; equip Threat Management Teams to respond to threats or violent acts; understand the behavioral health issues that contribute to violent behavior – and those that don’t; prepare for domestic or intimate partner violence and its interplay with the federal workplace


  • Early Bird Tuition: $275 per site, per session (payment made by May 12).
  • Standard Tuition: $305 per site, per session (payment made May 13 or later).
  • Register for all three webinars by May 12 and pay only $795!

Teleworkers may be added to a main site registration for $40 per teleworker, on a space-available basis.

Emerging Issues Week: The Federal Workplace’s Most Challenging Situations – Washington, DC @ International Student House (ISH) – Ella Burling Hall
Jul 20 – Jul 24 all-day

Download Registration Form


Deborah HopkinsShana Palmieri, Katherine Atkinson, Ann Boehm

Course Description

Navigating your role in the modern federal workplace requires not just the legal knowledge, but also the practical skills to handle the most intense and challenging situations. For example, do you know what to do in the following scenarios?

  • An employee with bipolar disorder is having a manic episode in the workplace.
  • An employee threatens violence or suicide.
  • An employee claims she is being sexually harassed by one of your best performers.
  • You’ve heard reports that another manager is bullying an employee.
  • An employee is requesting leave or telework as a reasonable accommodation.
  • An employee is wasting time on social media when he is supposed to be working.

We will provide you the specific legal, practical and clinical guidance you need to reply effectively in these and many other difficult situations during our all-new Emerging Issues Week. You’ll gain the tools to better understand how to:

  • Deal with employees who have mental and behavioral health issues.
  • Handle sexual harassment and bullying claims.
  • Manage risk in your agency.
  • Handle the conflicts that take your employees off task.
  • Respond appropriately to the most challenging reasonable accommodation requests.

Daily Agenda:


Handling Behavioral Health Issues: An overview of the ADA requirements on accommodating individuals with mental impairments and other behavioral health issues; your agency’s legal obligation to provide its employees with a safe workplace; types of mental disabilities and how they may exhibit in the workplace; PTSD, substance abuse disorders; dos and don’ts when working with employees who have behavioral health issues.


Dealing with Threats of Violence: Handling the psychiatric emergency; legal considerations for federal agencies; dangerous scenarios during the notice period; myths and facts about targeted violence in the workplace; dealing with suicidal employees; individual characteristics that put an employee at higher risk of committing an act of violence; how to develop and implement an in-house threat management team to deal with threat assessments, risk management, and the best ways to keep employees safe during a crisis; steps to take if someone becomes violent in the workplace.


Harassment Allegations and Investigations: Differentiating between EEO and non-EEO harassment; protected categories; investigating harassment allegations; the intersection with criminal investigations; bullying; special considerations in light of #MeToo and #TimesUp.


The Nontraditional Workplace: Telework, Reasonable Accommodation, and Technology Challenges: Accountability for a mobile workforce; telework or flexible schedules as reasonable accommodation; challenges with technology in the federal workplace.


Working in a Unionized Environment: What every supervisor and advisor should know about federal labor unions; collective bargaining agreements; official time; LR meetings; an overview of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute; fundamental employee, union, and management rights; unfair labor practices; controlling official time; handling information requests; the current status of the Executive Orders.


Early Bird Tuition (register by July 6):

  • 5 days = $2190
  • 4 days = $1795
  • 3 days = $1385
  • 2 days = $980
  • 1 day = $540

Standard Tuition (register July 7 – July 24):

  • 5 days = $2290
  • 4 days = $1895
  • 3 days = $1485
  • 2 days = $1080
  • 1 day = $640


Metro, Parking, Directions

Metro: The International Student House (1825 R Street NW) is located in convenient proximity to the Red Line. Exit Metro at the Dupont Circle station and proceed to the Q Street/North exit. Head north (you will come off the escalator facing north; if you use the elevator take a left after exiting) on Connecticut Avenue to R Street NW (approximately one block). Turn right onto R Street NW. Cross 19th Street NW and the International Student House will be on the left side of the street approximately halfway down the block. If you reach the Bikeshare dock, you’ve gone too far. Approximate walk time: 7-10 minutes.

Parking: Street parking is metered and is limited to two hours, unless you have a Washington, DC, Zone 2 parking pass. The closest parking garage is at 11 Dupont Circle, approximately two blocks from the International Student House (1825 R Street NW). Approximate walk time: 5 -7 minutes.

From the Carlyle Hotel: After exiting the Carlyle Hotel, turn left. At the first intersection, R Street NW, turn right. Proceed approximately one block. The International Student House (1825 R Street NW) will be on your right, just past the Bikeshare dock. Approximate walk time: 4-6 minutes.

Cancellation and No-show Policy for Registered Participants: Cancellations made after the cancel date on the registration form will not be refunded or given credit toward future courses. Pre-paid training using the “Pay Now” option will not be refunded or given credit toward future courses. No-shows will not be refunded or given credit toward future courses.

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