Federal managers across all agencies can be sued in their personal capacity for actions taken in the scope of their employment—a fact that not all federal managers are aware of. One often-overlooked civil liability exposure is under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, which holds that all federal employees can be sued under this Act for claims that their work "substantially burden[ed] a person’s exercise of religion.” In Tanzin v. Tanvir (2020) the U.S. Supreme Court held that it is the intention of Congress that RFRA exposes federal employees to personal liability for monetary damages. This decision adds to the already extensive list of civil liability exposures for federal managers and may be especially relevant in the wake of President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors.
The federal vaccine mandate presents a litany of potential challenges and exposure for federal managers. It appears federal managers will be responsible for reviewing COVID-19 vaccination religious exemption applications and making decisions regarding accommodations for their employees. Under RFRA, federal employees may potentially be able to sue managers for accommodation decisions that they deem to be an unfair violation of their religious freedoms. Federal managers may face further potential liability if they are tasked with writing religious accommodation guidelines related to the vaccination mandate for federal contractors. If the Department of Justice chooses to decline representation or indemnification, federal managers who are sued by their employees or contractors may be financially responsible for their own legal representation and could be held liable for monetary damages under RFRA, unless they have a FEDS Protection professional liability insurance (PLI) policy in place.
Federal managers can be sued in their personal capacity. If you are sued, representation by the Department of Justice is not automatic or mandatory. You don’t want to be left to defend yourself from allegations—FEDS Protection PLI can help. We offer federal employee policies with $1 million, $2 million, or $3 million in civil liability protection for attorney’s fees and indemnity costs in the event you are sued in your civil capacity. The FEDS policy also includes $200,000 of legal representation coverage per incident for administrative actions and $100,000 of coverage for criminal defense costs. Annual premiums for FEDS Protection PLI start at $290, which is less than it would typically cost to hire a federal employment lawyer for an hour. Additionally, federal managers and law enforcement officers are eligible for a reimbursement of up to 50% the cost of their PLI policy through their agency. To learn more about how a FEDS PLI policy can protect you and your career, visit http://www.fedsprotection.com or call (866) 955-FEDS, M-F 8:30am-6pm to speak directly to a representative.
*This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.