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Charged With Ghost Employment As A Government Employee? What Should You Know?

If you work for a local, state, or the federal government, you've likely spent time sitting through various seminars on conflicts of interest, ghost employment, and other ethical and fiscal considerations that are made a priority for those paid through public funds. Although you may not have put much thought into how ghost employment applies in your specific situation, actually being subject to allegations of ghost employment can not only mean the loss of your government job, it could subject you to criminal charges in many states. Read on to learn more about what can constitute ghost employment and what defenses you may be able to employ.

What actions are considered ghost employment?

Ghost employment is most broadly defined as any pay or benefits provided to an individual for work not completed. This can include working fewer hours than you're contracted to work -- even if you complete all the work that's assigned to you -- or working on non-work-related tasks while on the payroll. For example, if you're employed by a local government and taking classes at night, using part of your shifts during the day to complete homework for these classes could constitute ghost employment. 

Unfortunately, ghost employment doesn't always require intent or even desire to break the law -- for example, if you work for a public official who is up for re-election this year, engaging in campaign activities during work hours (even if directed to do so by your boss) could be considered ghost employment under your state's laws.

What are your defenses if you're charged with ghost employment under your state's laws?

In some cases, you may have a valid coercion defense -- especially if your ghost employment was ostensibly work-related (for example, working on a supervisor's re-election campaign). If you're able to show that you were threatened or felt you were subject to termination or dismissal if you didn't take part in the activities that constituted ghost employment, you may be able to avoid criminal liability for your actions.

You may also have relief from a legal judgment if you can show, through your employment contract or other documentation outlining your job duties, that you were granted permission to engage in certain activities on the job. This can be common in situations where you're pursuing an advanced degree with your employer's blessing. Even if this legal documentation doesn't hold water for your employer, it may be sufficient to allow you to escape criminal liability for ghost employment. If you have questions about a lawsuit, contact a legal firm such as the Law Office Of Les Downs