A current appeals court choice tossed out for the absence of jurisdiction a federal staff member’s difficulty to a casual hand slapping he got from his employer after participating in exactly what the staff member felt was safeguarded whistleblowing activity.
As the court explains it, here’s exactly what took place.
Robert Vocke, a Physical Scientist with the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), grumbled in e-mails to managers about exactly what he viewed as improprieties in the performance pay system. He composed that some supervisors got greater settlement than necessitated by their performance scores. The only action Vocke got was a “Letter of Counseling” resolving his “showed failure to interact with your managers properly and to clarify my expectations for your conduct in the future.” He was warned for his “rude, derisive, and less than professional” tone in these e-mails, and more advised to “interact properly” with managers and watch his tone, which must be “expert and considerate at all times.” Even more, while the hand slapping would not be consisted of in his worker’s folder, future occurrences of this nature might cause discipline “as much as and consisting of elimination.”.
Ouch! Clearly not the response Mr. Vocke might have expected, resulting in his grievance to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) declaring this “Letter of Counseling” totaled up to retaliation versus Vocke’s legal whistleblowing disclosures. OSC ended its query into Vocke’s grievance and he took his case to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
The Administrative Judge (AJ) discovered no jurisdiction and dismissed Vocke’s appeal because the Letter of Counseling “did not increase to the level of ‘workers action;'” and his self-described whistleblowing did not include “unlawful or grossly inefficient costs,” and for that reason was not secured whistleblowing. (p. 3).
The complete MSPB concurred with the AJ, decreasing to evaluate that choice as asked for by Vocke. Particularly a Letter of Counseling was not a worker’s action and Vocke’s disclosures were not safeguarded whistleblowing. (pp. 3-4).
Mr. Vocke’s attract the Federal Circuit has now been dismissed since he missed out on the filing due date.
The ethical is that you might think you are a whistleblower, but that does not in truth make you a safeguarded whistleblower within the significance of the federal law. Oh, and, constantly submit your appeal within the time limitations.