The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced this week that it had filed a whistleblower retaliation complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board over a federal employee’s removal.
The complaint was filed against the Department of Interior (DOI) for the termination of Jeffrey Missal, a Regional Environmental Officer based in Anchorage, Alaska. The complaint alleges that Missal was removed by the agency in retaliation for his protected whistleblower disclosures and Inspector General complaint.
Missal himself had filed a complaint with OSC alleging that his removal occurred in retaliation for his disclosure that DOI violated environmental regulations to facilitate oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean, a concern he raised repeatedly within his chain of command beginning in 2012.
In 2014, a senior DOI employee launched an investigation into Missal for unspecified misconduct on the same day that employee was informed of the Inspector General’s inquiry. Then in 2016, DOI removed Missal from his employment based on alleged misconduct uncovered during that investigation, until OSC successfully petitioned MSPB to stay his removal.
In October 2017, OSC determined that DOI’s investigation of Missal was launched in retaliation for his whistleblowing and sought corrective action through a formal Report of Prohibited Personnel Practice. After DOI declined to provide the requested corrective action, OSC filed a complaint with the MSPB to compel the agency to comply.
“Whistleblowers must have confidence they can report wrongdoing without facing retaliation,” Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said. “OSC is committed to restoring that confidence by holding agencies accountable when they violate whistleblowers’ rights.”