Office of Special Counsel (OSC) obtained an order in a case involving potential retaliation by the Department of Homeland Security against one of their employees. The order from one of members of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) will provide 45 days for the OSC to investigate the circumstances surrounding the termination of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspector.
It seems this inspector had complained to TSA management that her supervisor had been improperly recording his working and training hours with his dog, to make it appear that he was meeting TSA requirements.
That manager took no action against her supervisor, so she then reported this conduct to the OSC. A month after this report, the TSA inspector was involved in a car accident, which she reported over the phone to her supervisor.
He later accused her of “cursing” during that call. She claimed she did not recall cursing during the conversation, and two months later, the agency attempted to terminate her for “inappropriate conduct and lack of candor.”
The suspicion is that the firing was retaliatory, due to her protected disclosures of potential wrongdoing by her supervisor and this motivated her disciplinary action and termination.
A stay is an important tool used by courts and other adjudicative bodies, like the MSPB, to preserve the status quo while further evidence is gathered and questions can be investigated.
A case like this demonstrates the importance of have legal representation when you are faced with an adverse job action. The lack of candor charge could used anytime an employee is questioned and cannot recall or did make the alleged statement, especially in the context of trumped up retaliatory disciplinary proceedings.
MSPB.gov, “SPECIAL COUNSEL EX REL. KIMBERLY BARNETT, v. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY,” December 16, 2014