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OSC Obtains Corrective Action for USCIS Whistleblower Fired in Retaliation for Reporting a Manager’s Misconduct

Prohibited Personnel Practices
OSC announced that it has settled its complaint for corrective action filed with the MSPB against USCIS.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced that it has settled its complaint for corrective action filed with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  An administrative law judge for MSPB approved and entered the settlement into the record and, as a result, dismissed the case this week.  The complaint alleged that the agency fired Kenneth Langley, an analyst at its Wichita, Kansas office, for blowing the whistle on an official who divulged confidential, identifying information about employees who had filed agency grievances.

Based on the settlement agreement, along with a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) judgment from earlier this year, USCIS will reinstate Langley, reimburse him for attorney's fees, and pay him $325,000 in compensatory damages. Langley will also be retroactively promoted to resolve OSC's investigation into a more recent claim that USCIS rescinded his job offer for a higher-level position because of his litigation against the agency.

OSC filed the complaint in July 2022, after USCIS declined to take the corrective action OSC recommended in its prohibited personnel practice report finding whistleblower retaliation.

OSC's report, cited in the EEOC's decision, found that Langley made protected disclosures when he informed managers that, during his employee orientation, an agency official improperly shared with him and another new hire the names of employees who had filed complaints against the agency, calling one such employee “crazy." Just two weeks after Langley reported the official's statements, USCIS launched what OSC found to be a retaliatory investigation into Langley as a pretext for gathering evidence to fire Langley for his whistleblowing. The settlement agreement provides full relief to Langley for the harm caused by USCIS's retaliation.

“This outcome is a credit to OSC's investigative and litigation work, as well as USCIS's and Mr. Langley's willingness to engage in efforts to reach a resolution," said Special Counsel Hampton Dellinger. “The combined value of the MSPB settlement and EEOC award is a fair result, and marks a significant achievement for OSC. In securing this settlement, OSC sends a message to federal whistleblowers that we remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting them from retaliation."

Dellinger offered particular credit and thanks to the following current and former members of OSC: former Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner, then-Associate Special Counsel and current-Acting Principal Deputy Special Counsel Karen Gorman, Acting Associate Special Counsel Rachel Venier, and Investigations and Prosecution Division attorneys Darshan Sheth, Sheri Shilling, Rachel Davakis, and Ryan Palermo