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Developments at the OSC Archives

Mixing politics and social media can mean trouble for federal employees

With election season in full swing, political opinions are not hard to come by. If you are a federal employee, you may already know that there are limits on things you can say or do regarding your political opinions. Since 1939, the Hatch Act has set limits on non-elected government employees in this regard. Up until recently, the enforcement of the act was pretty straightforward, as digital online communication did not exist. However, with the advent of social media, it is possible for people to make their opinions known to a worldwide audience instantly with a few clicks of a mouse.

Developments at the OSC: FY2014 Annual Report Analyzed

Developments at the OSC: The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently issued its annual report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2014.

Developments at the OSC: Proposed Rule for Contractor Whistleblowers

Developments at the OSC:  On January 22, 2015, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register (80 Fed.Reg. 3,182-3,184).  The Proposed Rule seeks to expand OSC's whistleblower disclosure program to handle complaints from current and former employees of certain federal government contractors, subcontractors and grantees. 

Developments at the OSC: Two Recent LGBT Cases Against the Army

Developments at the OSC:  The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently announced the results in two major cases involving protections for LGBT employees in the federal workforce.  OSC's jurisdiction includes enforcing the rules against prohibited personnel practices (PPPs); one of the PPPs--codified at 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(10)--prohibits discrimination "on the basis of conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee or applicant or the performance of others," which has been interpreted to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Developments at the OSC: Investigative Report on Scott Bloch

Developments at the OSC:  On December 18, 2013, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) publicly released the report of investigation into various allegations of misconduct against former Special Counsel Scott Bloch.  The investigation was conducted by the Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM/OIG), due to obvious conflict of interest issues  at the OSC.  OPM/OIG had held completion of this report at the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office, pending resolution of the criminal charges against Mr. Bloch, who was only sentenced in July 2013. Mr. Bloch left office in October 2008. 

Developments at the OSC: Hiring PPP Case Settled

Developments at the OSC: On October 29, 2013, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced the settlement of a complaint against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) for misconduct in the hiring process.

Developments at the OSC: OSC FY 2012 Annual Report Analyzed

Developments at the OSC:  On September 10, 2013, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued its annual report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2012.   This report demonstrated greatly increasing enforcement activity by OSC, but also increased hurdles for cases reaching the investigation stage and increased case backlogs.

Developments at the OSC: Stay For Employee Resisting Illegal Order

Developments at the OSC:  On July 29, 2013, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) received a stay order from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), protecting an employee from threatened detail, in a case where the employee had refused an illegal order that risked exposing classified information.

Developments at the OSC: MSPB Stays Bad Performance Evaluations

Developments at the OSC:  On November 29, 2012, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) received a stay order from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), protecting four whistleblowers from threatened reprisal, including negative performance evaluations and bad employment references.  

More Employee Protection From the OSC

Developments at the OSC: On August 11, 2011, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced another case where OSC intervention resulted in a stay of an adverse action against an employee.  OSC's action in the matter not only ultimately resulted in reversal of the adverse action for the employer, but further resulted in the employing agency--the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)--changing its suspension policy across the board.

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