We all wear them, don’t we? Husband, parent, worker, co-worker, supervisor, babysitter, grandparent; or, to remain neutral and non-sexist, wife, mother, worker, co-worker, supervisor, babysitter, grandparent, etc. There, we have dispensed with any allegation that we have not been fully “balanced” in our perspective, allowing for an all-inclusive approach so that no one feels left out.
Yet, if you closely scrutinize the “list” that was previously posited, you will find the slight nuance of a difference between the two – instead of the neutral “parent”, the word “mother” was unscrupulously inserted, and those who are hypersensitive may want to shout, scream and otherwise pour out a stream of invectives in alleging that such a differentiation in the distinction between “parent” and “mother” reveals an underlying motive, unseen and concealed baseness that betrays a discriminatory or biased intent in the writer of such a list.
Such subtle distinctions are supposed to “uncover” and reveal that which was previously skillfully (or not so skillfully) disguised and only subconsciously manifested in an accidental revelation not previously presumed. But is this fair? Does the mere wording based upon previously-accepted normative paradigms necessarily compel a conclusion of subjective intent? Or, should it instead merely trigger an intermediate step of clarification?
Clarity, of course, is the foundation of communication, and wearing different hats in many roles can often confuse the acuity of defined roles. For instance, does the Federal or Postal employee who is “disabled”, does he or she have certain “rights” that can be protected? Does a request for an accommodation have to be submitted before a Federal Disability Retirement application can be filed, or is submission of a requested completion of SF 3112D sufficient to satisfy that legal criteria? Does the “different hat” that the Federal Disability Retirement applicant play – of a “disabled applicant for OPM purposes – mean that there is now a “different role” that the Agency must play, or that OPM must recognize during the process?
We like to think that while the world around us changes, we remain steadfastly “constant” in who we are and what we stand for; but the reality is that, when a medical condition strikes at the heart of a person’s occupation, preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, requires at the outset when we have to wear different hats, the accompanying different roles will require a reassessment as to the viability of what our next steps will be, especially when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire