Federal Manager's Daily Report

A federal appeals court has ruled that a federal employee’s disclosures regarding alleged time and attendance violations were not specific enough to qualify for whistleblowing protection, while also ruling that her allegations that management failed to accommodate her disability also was not whistleblowing.

The court recounted that the employee alleged that she had made disclosures including that managers were concealing the fact that their teams were not doing any work; that supervisors were representing that employees were present when they were not; that large numbers of employees were on family medical leave status, although supervisors denied that to be the case; and that employees were taking work breaks longer than the 30 minutes allotted for such breaks.

However, when the MSPB hearing officer concluded that the allegations were not specific enough to meet the legal test under whistleblower protection law and directed her to provide more details she did not do so, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit wrote in its decision.

The court said agreed with the hearing officer that the allegations were only “conclusory and lacked any specificity as to particular instances in which the violations allegedly occurred. Her assertions, for example, that employees were taking longer breaks than were permitted and that “no work was being done” were so general in nature that those allegations, standing alone, did not rise to the level of non-frivolous allegations of violations of a law, rule, or regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, or an abuse of authority.”

It further agreed that her allegations that the agency failed to provide accommodations for her disability did not constitute a disclosure of the “substantial and specific danger to public health and safety” under whistleblower law.

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2020 Federal Employees Handbook