Reston, VA

Meet Reed, a male Retriever mix puppy available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

Reed is is a happy, friendly little fella who’s just nine weeks old a bit less than ten pounds. He might have some retriever blood and Microsoft AI says maybe some newfie too. He’s been a joy to have with us but he’ll soon be ready to go his forever family — we’re confident he will make his adopters a terrific companion.

This great little guy is a nice blend of friendly affection and normal puppy playfulness and will bring lots of love to any home. Precious pups like Reed go fast, so please copy and paste the link into your browser to fill out our online application. Please hurry so you don’t miss out as we expect good response.

Reed is up to date on all shots and dewormings and carries an adoption fee of $399 which includes his micro chip. This attractive, affectionate little fella is going to bring lots of joy to some lucky adopters, so don’t delay.

Are you and Reed a match?

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

The Commonwealth of Virginia enacted a number of new employment laws this year, completely transforming employee rights as never before.

One of these new employment laws in Virginia involves providing Whistleblower rights for employees. In the past, employees had to rely on a very weak system of whistleblower protection that was developed through the courts and case law. Essentially, there was little protection for those terminated for blowing the whistle on an employer’s illegal conduct. That has now changed and this article discusses the new Virginia Whistleblower legislation.

Virginia’s New Whistleblower Law

Virginia’s new whistleblower law, enacted in House Bill 798, was sponsored by State Delegate Karrie Delaney, was signed into law on April 11, 2020, by Governor Ralph Northam and becomes effective on July 1, 2020.

The new law prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, threatening, discriminating against, or penalizing an employee or from taking other retaliatory action with respect to the employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges of employment.

How an Employee May Be Protected Under the Whistleblower Protection Law

An employee may be protected by Virginia’s new Whistleblower Protection Law if they:

(1) Report in good faith (or cause another employee to report in good faith) a violation of state law, federal law, or regulation to a supervisor, law enforcement or to any governmental body (e.g., Fairfax/Arlington County, City of Alexandria, federal government authorities).

(2) Are asked by law enforcement or a governmental body to participate in an investigation, hearing or inquiry.

(3) Refuse to commit a criminal act for the employer that would expose the employee to potential criminal liability.

(4) Refuse an employer’s order to perform an act that would violate any federal or state law or regulation (and explain to their employer that their refusal is based on potentially violating the law).

(5) Testify before law enforcement or a governmental body if it is connected to an investigation of an employer’s unlawful conduct.

Employee Remedies

If an employee is subject to whistleblower retaliation, then she/he may file a lawsuit within a year of the retaliation. Courts in Virginia may issue an injunction against the employer’s retaliation, reinstate a wrongfully terminated employee, provide appropriate backpay, attorneys fees and compensation and costs.

The law is new and more complex than provided in this article so it is important to obtain legal advice if a suspected case of retaliation develops.

Contact Us

If you are in need of employment law representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Meet Valkyrie, a Tiger Striped Domestic Short Hair available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about her:

Valkyrie aka Val is a regal beauty. She’s a little timid, will need some time to warm up but when she does your lap will be her new friend!

She lives with several other fosters and doesn’t mind other cats but would prefer a quiet home to herself. She loves to play laser light but the other kitties always take over. She feels it’s her time to shine all by herself.

Her favorite thing is to sip from the bathroom faucet as you get ready in the morning. Who wouldn’t want that all to themselves.

Val is about 3-4 years old.

Are you and Valkyrie a match?

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By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Ever feel unsettled in your home but not quite sure why? It has a lot to do with energy.

Often we focus our attention on pretty countertops and new flooring, but if we don’t clear the stagnant energy from our homes, we’re sometimes left feeling drained and depleted without really knowing why.

With most of us spending more time in our homes than we ever imagined, this is the perfect opportunity to find out how to shift that energy. Join us on Friday, June 26 at 1 p.m. EST as Mina Fies, CEO of Synergy Design & Construction, shares best practices on how to shift your home’s energy both before and after a remodel. Mina is a Zen Remodeler, Certified Practitioner of Interior Alignment™(Instinctive Feng Shui) and a Certified Green Professional (CGP).

The webinar is FREE. Claim your spot now!

If you can’t make the webinar but you’re ready to remodel, we can help! We’re open and employing our innovative methods that allow us to continue to deliver our same caring customer service and beautiful home remodels, while keeping our team and client safety and well being as our top priority.

See more of our projects and hear from clients who have renovated happy during the pandemic with Synergy Design & Construction here!

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Meet Emmitt, a young Labrador Retriever mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Fancy Cats Rescue Team have to say about him:

Emmitt is an adorable playful puppy who also has the most pleasant temperament.

Emmitt is an approximately 6 months old mixed breed who is completely house trained, crate trained and ready for his forever family.

Get ready to fall in love with this adorable face upon first sight!

Are you and Emmitt a match?

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

The pending decisions by the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and Arlington County Public Schools (APS) about in-person instruction in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been an important issue for many individuals in Northern Virginia.

A number of families recently filed a complaint against FCPS on May 8, 2020, alleging a systemic lack of instruction given to Fairfax students with disabilities or special education needs. The complaint appears to be one of the first complaints on behalf of special needs students affected by online instruction and the pandemic. A federal class action was recently filed in court alleging similar issues against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a recent lawsuit.

The Recent FCPS Issues and Complaint

Given recent news, Governor Ralph Northam is re-opening public schools in the fall, leaving significant discretion to counties. Individual counties will have significant flexibility in re-opening their schools.

Those families with special education needs and Individual Education Plans (commonly known as IEPs) are especially concerned. These students are substantially more affected than other students due to the lack of in-person instruction in schools. As a result, Fairfax County families filed a complaint against FCPS with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), alleging a failure to provide equal learning opportunities to students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the examples cited in the May 8, 2020 complaint included requiring special education students to follow online classes for only portions of the day. Many students, given their disabilities, were unable to do so. Other students with disabilities were allegedly told that their specialized instruction would only begin when in-person school re-opens.

Federal Law Requires Protection of Those with Disabilities

There are several laws that protect students with disabilities. Principal among these is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C.§ 1400. Pursuant to federal law, children with learning disabilities must receive specialized instruction in order to provide them with a level playing field with those that do not suffer from such disabilities.

IDEA is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children. IDEA governs how states and public government agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to the almost seven million eligible children with disabilities.

However, according to the complaint the problem has been that FCPS was allegedly “pausing” such education until schools physically re-opened. As of this writing, there were at least three federal court cases filed in different jurisdictions nationally against other school systems regarding the lack of specialized instruction for special education students under IDEA. Further delays or curtailing of in-person special education may lead to additional lawsuits.

Difficulties Faced by Those with Learning Disabilities and Online Education

Families in the complaint have alleged that FCPS left children behind that need special education instruction behind due to the lack of in-person education. Many of the students involved in the complaint against FCPS have autism and dyslexia. While it is undoubtedly difficult for FCPS to have maneuvered these issues in March or April, there is hope that FCPS will strive to provide in-person education for healthy students, with proper protections, for those with special educational needs.

According to one of the parents of a child in the complaint, FCPS requested a delay in responding to parents’ complaint until June 11, 2020, which was granted. However, FCPS may have submitted their response past the business hours deadline on June 11, 2020. It is unknown whether VDOE will accept an after-hours response as of this writing.

Conclusion

Findings in the complaint by VDOE are due on July 7, 2020, unless further delays occur. Hopefully, FCPS, APS and other school systems will address the needs of affected special needs students. If interested in the complaint process or for more information, parents can contact VDOE here.

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Meet Hudson, a Domestic Short Hair male available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about him:

Hudson is a big, sweet, gentle boy looking for someone to give him lots of affection and belly rubs. He loves being petted and brushed. And has a calm, easy going temperament.

Hudson tested positive for FIV. Cats with FIV can live long healthy lives indoors. They can be great as an only cat or as a companion to another FIV positive cat.

We are currently conducting virtual visits and adopting out in the northern Virginia area only.

Are you and Hudson a match?

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Meet Ariel, a female Terrier/American Straffordshire Mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation have to say about her:

Ariel is tolerant, patient, incredibly friendly, and loves to wrestle and play with other dogs.

She is good in the car, walks nicely on a leash and is always excited to meet new friends. She is looking for a special someone, maybe with a laundry room where she can sleep at night and the ability to get her outside often during the day.

Are you and Ariel a match?

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Given the pandemic, and the current state of the economy, many employment lawyers for businesses and employees are preparing for a number of lawsuits related to COVID-19. There are many different types of potential employee civil claims that will ultimately arise as a result of the pandemic, the economy, layoffs and terminations.

The following are just a few examples of the type of litigation that may be on the horizon.

Negligence Claims Against Employers

One of the first types of claims that we expect to see in the near future are lawsuits filed by employees related to them getting sick from COVID-19.

It is likely that we will see some employees claim that they were subjected to work-related risks and were infected by COVID-19 as a result. It is too early to see whether or not Virginia, different states or the federal government will enact legislation limiting liability for these employers. Some of these claims may likely be based on employers that did not follow the letter of Executive Orders from the Governor or other relevant government medical authorities.

Some states may decide to make employers immune from such liability by expanding workers’ compensation coverage to make it easier to claim injuries without proof that it occurred at work. This would essentially shift liability from businesses to the state or create a hybrid solution. Businesses are likely to need this type of relief from the state.

Discrimination Claims Against Employers

One of the other types of claims that we are likely to see by employees involves discrimination claims with respect to pandemic-related terminations and layoffs. These are likely to be claims arguing that some employees were retained or terminated in a discriminatory fashion. For instance, we may see arguments that retention of employees was illegally based on race or sex.

Claims for Unpaid Wages

Another area that we are likely to see employee lawsuits filed over involve unpaid wage claims related to the pandemic.  Many employers have been adversely affected and became insolvent immediately, unable to pay employees. Other employers may have thought that they could delay payment of wages to employees during the pandemic, which is illegal.  In either case, a number of employees are likely to file such claims in the coming weeks and months.

Contact Us

It is too soon to tell all the ways in which the pandemic will affect employer-employee claims, but they are likely coming in the near future. If you are in need of employment law representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Meet Lucky Lucy, a female Retriever Mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about her:

Are you looking for the perfect 1 1/2 year old pup that is already house trained, has manners and wants to please you and play… this is your girl.

She has a lot of energy and would love to have another dog to run and play with in a fenced yard. She is in a foster home and would love to find her forever family.

Lucy is spayed up to dates on all vaccines and is micro chipped.

Are you and Lucky Lucy a match?

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Meet Coco, a black and white Domestic Short Hair male available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at The Feline Foundation of Greater Washington Inc have to say about him:

Are you looking for an affectionate, active kitty? Coco loves catnip toys and attention.

He is outgoing and when he wants you to pet him, he’ll grab your hand with both paws and pull it towards him. He likes to cuddle with you and knead on you and your blanket.

He’s been in homes with other cats and gets along with them.

Are you and Coco a match?

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For professionals on the rise, an MBA is a key credential. But while an MBA may help launch the next stage of a career, few are willing to put everything on hold to obtain one. Staying on top of course work while holding down a job and meeting personal obligations is challenging at best.

“Students nowadays aren’t willing to go to school to earn an MBA on a full-time basis and forego the economic benefits of a full-time job,” says Dr. Parviz Ghandforoush, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business.

That’s one of the reasons why business schools like Pamplin have developed an alternative: hybrid MBA program options that combine the flexibility of online courses with the in-person interaction of a traditional MBA.

Online collaboration and discussion modules give students flexibility to access coursework whenever and wherever they are located. In-person class lectures offer hands-on learning, face-to-face discussions and substantive interaction with instructors and classmates.

According to Dana Hansson, Director of MBA Programs at Virginia Tech, the hybrid nature of the programs deliver flexibility and “a personal touch” that encourages students from various industries, work settings and management layers to pool their experiential knowledge.

Both hybrid pathways to an MBA — the Arlington-based Executive MBA and multi-city Professional MBA — offer advantages that promise to resonate long after a program’s completion.

An in-person element and cohort format create lasting relationships that can deliver significantly more value and meaning than any LinkedIn connection. Membership in an elite institution also promotes close professional relationships among peers throughout Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C., metro area.

With more than 100,000 alumni in the mid-Atlantic region alone, an MBA from Virginia Tech provides students with access to industry professionals and mentors, many of whom can connect graduates with opportunities for career advancement.

A part-time format means applicants can maintain a steady income while also furthering their career aspirations. As a public university, Virginia Tech also offers a high-value tuition rate.

The part-time Professional MBA and Executive MBA programs can each be completed in the same amount of time as a traditional full-time program, and less than a traditional part-time program.

Learn more at mba.vt.edu.

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By Kimberly Berry

Our law firm handles many different types of federal retirement issues in our representation of federal employees.

One of the more common types of retirement cases that we often handle involves the representation of federal employees in the disability retirement process before various federal agencies and the Office of Personnel Management.

Federal employees filing for disability retirement are typically covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System or the Civil Service Retirement System.

Federal employees should consider the following questions before they pursue OPM disability retirement:

How serious are the federal employee’s medical issues and are they linked to the federal employee’s position description duties?

When making a disability retirement decision, keep in mind that OPM evaluates your continued ability to work with your medical condition in the context of the duties described in your position description. If the medical disability is not deemed serious enough, or not fully supported by medical documentation and evidence, and is not sufficiently linked to your inability to “usefully and efficiently” carry out your job duties, then OPM may deny the disability retirement application.

How long is the medical disability realistically expected to last?

OPM requires that a medical disability be expected to last at least one year in duration. When considering whether to file for disability retirement, it is important for you to consider the expected duration of your medical disability. Disabilities with known shorter duration could be problematic for you in the application process.

Can a federal employee survive on a reduced annuity?

If you are considering filing for OPM disability retirement, understand that this type of retirement usually provides you with a lower monthly retirement annuity in comparison to full retirement. As a result, we recommend that you obtain benefit estimates from your human resources representative and consult with a financial advisor about the impact of a potential reduced annuity prior to filing for disability retirement.

Are there modifications to a federal employee’s current position that can be made to allow the federal employee to continue to work?

Oftentimes a federal agency will work with you to provide you with a reasonable accommodation (i.e., change in duties, hours, telework or other adjustments) that can make your current position and medical condition workable. This can often be the best solution, even if it is only a short-term solution.

As a part of the disability retirement process, the federal agency is required to certify that it is unable to accommodate your disabling medical condition in your present position. The agency must also certify that it has considered you “for any vacant position in the same agency, at the same grade or pay level, and within the same commuting area, for which [you] qualified for reassignment.”

Do your medical professionals believe that you should not continue in your current position?

This is an important consideration when filing for disability retirement. In most cases, physicians will be open with their patients about whether it is a good idea to keep working in their current federal employment position.

There are at least two reasons to discuss a possible filing for OPM disability retirement with your treating medical provider(s). First, your health should be of primary importance and a consideration when determining whether continuing in a job hinders or impedes your recovery. Second, physicians and their medical opinions are necessary and, in fact, crucial in the disability retirement application process with OPM.

OPM will require a physician’s statement about your medical issues, and the physician’s statement can either make or break the outcome of your disability retirement application.

When considering OPM disability retirement, it is important to obtain the advice and representation of legal counsel. You can contact our law firm through www.retirementlaw.com, www.berrylegal.com, or by telephone at (703) 668-0070, to schedule a consultation to discuss your individual federal employment retirement matter. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Meet Soda, a young Domestic Short Hair female available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at The Feline Foundation of Greater Washington Inc have to say about her:

Soda is a sweet girl just like her name. She enjoys company at meal time and throws great dinner parties, she’ll even knead you some air biscuits for dessert.

When she wants affection she’ll seek you for pets and will reciprocate with head butts and purrs. Soda had a bit of a rough time after her human became ill and could no longer care for her, after some time in the shelter her sister cat Boppie got adopted, that’s when Soda came to FFGW for a new start.

Now she’s ready for her new forever home. She is comfortable in the company of other cats and would do best in a quiet household where she can take her time getting acclimated to her new surroundings. Soda is currently in foster with FFGW

Are you and Soda a match?

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Imagine a new townhome with impeccable style in a place where you can step outside your door and walk to grab coffee at Starbucks or a bite to eat at Founding Farmers. Or walk to Metro to explore the entire D.C. area.

That could be your reality at Union Towns, where the Knutson Companies is preparing to debut a new collection of just 26 stunning townhomes in the vibrant and growing Reston Station area.

These new townhomes offer the extraordinary architecture, thoughtful designs and premium finishes that the Knutson Companies is known for, plus the rare opportunity for a walkable Northern Virginia lifestyle close to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station and sought-after shopping, dining and entertainment options.

Union Towns will feature some of Knutson’s most popular townhome designs, priced from the $800’s. The floorplans include up to 5 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and 2,779 square feet, plus a private, 349-square-foot rooftop terrace that becomes your Yard in the Sky.

You’ll also enjoy the community’s dog park and access to a rooftop pool looking out over Reston Station.

Other nearby attractions at Reston Station include Sweet Leaf, Nordine Salon and Day Spa, and Orangetheory Fitness.

More destinations will open soon, including Matchbox Restaurant, a new Marriott hotel and Reston Station Tower offices, anchored by Google.

The Knutson Companies is a locally owned builder known for neighborhoods that enhance your lifestyle with access to recreation, restaurants, retail and transit. With award-winning architectural designs, personalized interior design services and a customer-focused approach, they’ve earned a 100% satisfaction rating from their homeowners.

To learn more about Union Towns and the growing development at Reston Station, visit UnionTowns.com.

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