Q & A Session – Whistleblower Retaliation

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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.

Q:

I worked in a field setting away from headquarters command. I reported some wrongdoings committed by a federal supervisor and local co-workers. In response to my actions, my immediate supervisor had me removed from my field position. After several interviews with me and a couple of managers in my chain of command, the deputy director of my program and examination of documents I presented to her, she determined that management was at fault and that I should not have been removed from my position. Although the deputy made attempts to send me back, the program would not accept me back. What type of recourse do I have?

A:

You have described whistleblower retaliation, assuming your disclosures are protected. To be protected, your disclosure must allege a violation of law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross financial irregularity; abuse of authority; or specific threat to health or safety. You can go to OSC.gov to leave how to file a complaint.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

2 Comments

  1. I reviewed your Atty’s Bio’s and they all seem pretty knowledgeable in OSC/MSPB and Fed. Circuit Ct. of Appeals.

    The HRO Director harassed me to complete PII/Privacy Act Documents I had already completed and submitted to her (2x). She falsely accused me of not completing the Privacy Act (release) documents. I requested the HRO Director to show me the original PII documents I completed (10) months prior and the documents I submitted to her (again) 2nd time. The 2nd time I resubmitted the PII documents with my confidential information she requested I completed the same document (again) a (3rd) time just within less than (10) days from me submitting the document to her again. I requested to see my original PII document for (4) months during my tenure. She avoided addressing my question. My Supervisor then harassed me stating I never completed the PII document and told me to complete the document or “it could be your job”. I stated (again) to my Supervisor that I had already completed the PII document just (2) wks. ago and he called me a liar. I had been onboard at that point for (11) months and there would have been NO way I would’ve been hired had the HRO Director NOT received my PII documents for my background check.

    HRO Director instructed my Supervisor to terminate me stating I refused to complete the documents necessary for employment. (40) days AFTER my (unjustified) termination…the HRO Director sent me an email and stated she HAD all my documents and nothing was lost because SHE verified the information herself. (HUH???) I stated to her, “Then I should be reinstated immediately due to gross managment error.” HRO Director refused to answer my email. I filed Unemployment and the Agency refused to attend my Hearing. It was determined the Unemp. Appeals Examiner stated that Managment was ambiguous in addressing my answer and there was a problem with safeguarding my documents and there was no misconduct in connection with my work because managment refused me access to my PII records.

    Something told me to KEEP requesting my PII documents so I pursued this matter. The Agency Council told me my records were forwarded to Nat’l Pers. Records Ctr. (NPRC) and to request my records from there because they don’t have them anymore. So I requested my records be sent to me. I received my Official Personal File (Records) and my PII Document SF85P/pg. 8 was ~not~ in my Official File. This means the HRO Director made a false official statement in performance of her Managment duties, abused her authority/position, had (intentionally) terminated me for NO cause and because she did what she did….I want to hire your firm to restore my rights, get what I’m owed and have the HRO Director send me a letter of apology.

    Good news: I refiled my complaint with OSC and OSC Atty. contacted me for re-investigation since my 1st complaint wasn’t reviewed and just “dumped” in MSPB’s lap to handle when OSC had full powers to address my complaint and hold the HRO Director fully responsibile for what she did.

    I hope to hear from your Firm (soon) because I have to file my Fed. Circuit Ct. of Appeals before 10 FEB ’12

    Thanks 🙂
    BH

  2. I reviewed your Atty’s Bio’s and they all seem pretty knowledgeable in OSC/MSPB and Fed. Circuit Ct. of Appeals.
    *** I am a Navy Veteran that was hired by the Dept. of Navy (ironic). Former Navy Exec. Administration and Navy/Security Police for (3) yrs. also

    The HRO Director harassed me to complete PII/Privacy Act Documents I had already completed and submitted to her (2x). She falsely accused me of not completing the Privacy Act (release) documents. I requested the HRO Director to show me the original PII documents I completed (10) months prior and the documents I submitted to her (again) 2nd time. The 2nd time I resubmitted the PII documents with my confidential information she requested I completed the same document (again) a (3rd) time just within less than (10) days from me submitting the document to her again. I requested to see my original PII document for (4) months during my tenure. She avoided addressing my question. My Supervisor then harassed me stating I never completed the PII document and told me to complete the document or “it could be your job”. I stated (again) to my Supervisor that I had already completed the PII document just (2) wks. ago and he called me a liar. I had been onboard at that point for (11) months and there would have been NO way I would’ve been hired had the HRO Director NOT received my PII documents for my background check.

    HRO Director instructed my Supervisor to terminate me stating I refused to complete the documents necessary for employment. (40) days AFTER my (unjustified) termination…the HRO Director sent me an email and stated she HAD all my documents and nothing was lost because SHE verified the information herself. (HUH???) I stated to her, “Then I should be reinstated immediately due to gross managment error.” HRO Director refused to answer my email. I filed Unemployment and the Agency refused to attend my Hearing. It was determined the Unemp. Appeals Examiner stated that Managment was ambiguous in addressing my answer and there was a problem with safeguarding my documents and there was no misconduct in connection with my work because managment refused me access to my PII records.

    Something told me to KEEP requesting my PII documents so I pursued this matter. The Agency Council told me my records were forwarded to Nat’l Pers. Records Ctr. (NPRC) and to request my records from there because they don’t have them anymore. So I requested my records be sent to me. I received my Official Personal File (Records) and my PII Document SF85P/pg. 8 was ~not~ in my Official File. This means the HRO Director made a false official statement in performance of her Managment duties, abused her authority/position, had (intentionally) terminated me for NO cause and because she did what she did….I want to hire your firm to restore my rights, get what I’m owed and have the HRO Director send me a letter of apology.

    Good news: I refiled my complaint with OSC and OSC Atty. contacted me for re-investigation since my 1st complaint wasn’t reviewed and just “dumped” in MSPB’s lap to handle when OSC had full powers to address my complaint and hold the HRO Director fully responsibile for what she did.
    It appears now she Violated the Privacy Act and engaged in deceptive and unethical conduct as an HRO Director. Had I did to her (or anyone else) what the HRO Director did to me, I would’ve had my security clearance REVOKED and terminated on the spot. Why she did this to me…I want redemption, my name/record cleared and I want the HRO Director severely disciplined for what she did.

    I hope to hear from your Firm (soon) because I have to file my Fed. Circuit Ct. of Appeals before 10 FEB ’12

    Thanks 🙂
    Bill H.

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