U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES FAVORABLE
SETTLEMENT OF PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICE
COMPLAINT FILED BY MSPB REGIONAL DIRECTOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 1/3/02
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced the favorable settlement of a prohibited personnel practice complaint filed by Mr. Thomas J. Lanphear, Director and Chief Administrative Judge of the Atlanta Regional Office of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Mr. Lanphear had filed a complaint with OSC, alleging that senior MSPB officials, who are no longer with the agency, retaliated against him for challenging the rating that he had received on a 1997 performance evaluation.
Mr. Lanphear alleged that after he filed an appeal challenging his 1997 evaluation, his supervisors orchestrated a series of actions and investigations against him. Mr. Lanphear alleged that the actions were designed to justify the deficient performance rating and to block his recertification as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES). These actions included re-issuing his 1997 performance appraisal and changing his rating to “Unsatisfactory” and issuing a 1998 appraisal with an “Unsatisfactory” rating.
OSC conducted an investigation into Mr. Lanphear’s allegations. On the basis of OSC’s investigation, the Special Counsel determined that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Lanphear’s supervisor had retaliated against him because he challenged the rating on his performance evaluation. OSC provided a draft prohibited personnel practice report to former MSPB Chairman Beth Slavet and requested that the MSPB voluntarily provide corrective action to Mr. Lanphear.
In response to OSC’s draft report and under the terms of the settlement agreement, the MSPB agreed to provide full relief to Mr. Lanphear without admitting liability. Relief included rescinding Mr. Lanphear’s 1997 and 1998 performance evaluations and issuing “Outstanding” ratings for 1997, 1998, and 1999, which resulted in Mr. Lanphear being recertified to the SES. Relief also included the payment of performance awards associated with the revised performance appraisals and attorney’s fees.
The MSPB is the tribunal before which OSC prosecutes prohibited personnel practice cases. All of the underlying events took place under an administration prior to that of Chairman Slavet.
Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan thanked the MSPB “for its cooperation in negotiating a full and fair settlement of Mr. Lanphear’s complaint.” Jessica L. Parks of Kator, Parks & Weiser, counsel for Mr. Lanphear, stated, “The case exemplifies the importance of having an independent watch dog agency such as the Special Counsel to protect the rights of federal employees.”
It is a prohibited personnel practice under 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(9) to retaliate against an employee for exercising any appeal, complaint, or grievance right granted by any law, rule, or regulation. The act of rating an employee’s performance negatively because the employee exercised such a right constitutes a prohibited personnel practice.