Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.
If an employee is under investigation by a supervisor and the supervisor has a personal grudge against the employee, is that something that an Inspector General (IG) can investigate?
Does backdating a performance report constitute falsifying government documents?
It depends on the nature of the personal grudge. Among other things, IGs are authorized to investigate allegations of violation of law, rules, or regulations; mismanagement; gross waste of funds; abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety. This can include whistleblower reprisal. IGs may also investigate allegations of employee administrative misconduct and criminal conduct.
Backdating a report may be alteration of a government document and may rise to falsification if there was an intent to make a falsehood. A determination of whether or not there was any impropriety is dependent upon the type of document and reasons for the date change. Usually, a performance evaluation should not be backdated by a supervisor unless it corrects an overt error, i.e., the rating official mistakenly wrote that a mid-year review took place in July 2009 instead of July 2010. In that case, the best practice is for the supervisor to notify the employee of the correction and ask that the employee initial the change as well.
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