News from the Whitehouse: On January 31, 2014, President Obama issued a new presidential memorandum, "Enhancing Safeguards to Prevent the Undue Denial of Federal Employment Opportunities to the Unemployed and Those Facing Financial Difficulty Through No Fault of Their Own." This presidential memorandum highlighted several issues concerning how unemployment and financial distress can impact federal employment.
Developments at the EEOC: On January 14, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it had entered into a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). This new MOU carries the potential to see OSC pursuing disciplinary actions against federal managers found to have engaged in workplace discrimination.
Developments at OPM: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a Proposed Rule in the January 6, 2014, edition of the Federal Register (79 Fed.Reg. 610-613) which proposes to ease the rules for federal employees to reach 'career' status. Comments on this Proposed Rule must be received by OPM by March 7, 2014.
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 EEOC: On December 16, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its Performance and Accountability Report for FY 2013. The report is available online here.
News from the Courts: On December 9, 2013, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued its decision in Kerr v. Salazar, No. 12-35084. The 9th Circuit took a strong position in opposition to the Federal Circuit's pre-2012 decisions restricting the definition of protected whistleblowing.
News from the Supreme Court: On November 15, 2013, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) appealed the August 20, 2013, en banc decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Kaplan v. Conyers and MSPB, Case No. 2011-3207, to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has discretion on which cases it takes for appeal, and so this AFGE appeal is more formally referred to as a petition for a writ of certiorari (or 'cert petition'). Passman & Kaplan previously analyzed Conyers in this blog and in its Federal Legal Corner.
Developments at the EEOC: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently issued new guidance concerning complaints from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees on the EEOC website. This guidance, Processing Complaints of Discrimination by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Federal Employees, caps off the Commission's long-term trend of extending the federal sector EEO complaints process to cover claims of discrimination previously excluded as 'sexual orientation' complaints.
Developments at the MSPB: On November 8, 2013, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) published a Solicitation of Public Comments in the Federal Register (78 Fed.Reg. 67,076-67,077). Comments are due December 9, 2013.
Developments at the MSPB: On October 30, 2013, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) issued four decisions in whistleblower reprisal cases, all containing favorable holdings for employees. These cases show the ripple effects of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (WPEA) on the MSPB's case law, a topic previously discussed in this blog and in Passman & Kaplan's Federal Legal Corner, as well as an overall trend of more favorable outcomes in whistleblower reprisal cases.