U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES CORRECTIVE ACTION SETTLEMENT FOR JPATS EMPLOYEE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 2/13/02
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced the settlement of a prohibited personnel practice complaint filed by a Maintenance Coordinator for the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS), U.S. Marshals Service in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The complainant alleged that JPATS’ officials retaliated against him for disclosing to fellow employees, management officials, and contracting officials, his reasonable belief that aircraft maintenance regulations and the JPATS general maintenance manual requirements were being violated. Shortly after he made these disclosures, JPATS removed the complainant from his supervisory position during his probationary period, thereby lowering his grade level from a GS-13 to a GS-12, and withdrew job duties from him.
The JPATS “termination of supervisory appointment” memorandum states, in part, that the complainant placed JPATS in a “. . . vulnerable position by communicating aircraft maintenance issues to external organizations without first discussing with your immediate supervisor and senior JPATS Management.” Based on the language of this memo as well as other evidence gathered during the investigation, OSC concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the complainant’s demotion violated the Whistleblower Protection Act. That Act makes it unlawful for an agency to take a personnel action against an employee because he has disclosed what he reasonably believes is evidence of violations of law, rule, or regulation. When OSC advised JPATS of its conclusion, JPATS agreed to provide the complainant with corrective action.
Under the settlement agreement, without admitting liability, JPATS agreed to appoint the complainant to a level GS-13 Quality Assurance Specialist position, to restore his Contracting Officer Technical Representative duties, and to pay reasonable attorney fees. In exchange, the complainant agreed to withdraw his OSC complaint.
The Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes complaints alleging the commission of prohibited personnel practices at federal agencies. In cases where an OSC investigation reveals reasonable grounds to believe a prohibited personnel practice has been committed, and an agency declines to voluntarily provide relief to a complainant, OSC will prosecute a petition for corrective action before the Merit Systems Protection Board. In many cases, such as this one, OSC obtains relief for complaining parties through settlement, before it makes a formal finding regarding the merits of the complaint.