Federal laws protect Federal employees from retaliation for disclosing allegations of wrongdoing — specifically allegations of a violation of law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. A person who makes these types of disclosures is commonly called a whistleblower.
Federal officials are prohibited from taking, threatening, proposing or failing to take a personnel action against a whistleblower because they made a whistleblower disclosure. Personnel actions can include a poor performance review, reassignment, demotion, suspension, and termination.
Making a Whistleblower Disclosure
General Services Administration (GSA) employees have several options to disclose wrongdoing, including:
- Telling their supervisor or someone higher up in management
- Contacting the GSA’s Office of Inspector General or
- Contacting the Office of Special Counsel
Filing a Complaint about Whistleblower Retaliation
Current and former GSA employees and applicants for employment with the GSA who believe they have been retaliated against for reporting wrongdoing, have several avenues for filing a whistleblower retaliation complaint.
- GSA employees may be able to file a grievance. Employees should consult applicable grievance procedures to determine whether their specific issue is grievable.
- Current and former GSA employees and applicants for employment may file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, which is an independent agency that enforces whistleblower protections and certain other actions within the Federal government. The Office of Special Counsel has the authority to seek corrective or disciplinary action on behalf of complainants. Information about filing a whistleblower retaliation complaint with the Office of Special Counsel can be found at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.
- If the personnel action taken by management is an action directly appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board (i.e. adverse actions like removals and suspensions of more than 14 days), when filing the appeal, employees and former employees may include in their filing that they believe the personnel action was taken as a result of whistleblower retaliation. The Merit Systems Protection Board will then review the action to make a determination on whether it was in fact taken as a result of whistleblower retaliation.
Complainants must choose one venue to file a complaint at a time. The entities with authority to investigate or hear appeals concerning allegations of whistleblower retaliation will not process the claim if a claim over the same issue is pending elsewhere.
Further Whistleblower Retaliation Appeal Rights
Current and former GSA employees and applicants for employment with the GSA who have initially filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel have further appeal rights. Complainants may file what is called an Individual Right of Action Appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board if the Office of Special Counsel:
- Has made a determination to not seek corrective or disciplinary action on your behalf; or
- Has not YET decided to seek corrective or disciplinary action AND 120 days has lapsed since the office’s receipt of your complaint.
Information about filing whistleblower appeals with the Merit Systems Protection Board can be found at http://www.mspb.gov/appeals/whistleblower.htm.
Whistleblower Protection Ombudsperson
Current and former GSA employees can contact the GSA Office of Inspector General Whistleblower Protection Ombudsperson with questions about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures or whistleblower rights and remedies against retaliation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that the Ombudsperson is prohibited from acting as an employee’s or former employee’s legal representative, agent, or advocate.
- U.S. Office of Special Counsel's "Know Your Rights When Reporting Wrongs" brochure
- U.S. Office of Special Counsel's ITB YouTube Channel with several educational on whistleblower related topics and the Hatch Ac
- tU.S. Office of Special Counsel's Whilstleblower Protection slide show
- U.S. Office of Special Counsel's Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 slide show