5 CFR 1209.2 - Jurisdiction.

§ 1209.2 Jurisdiction.
(a) Under 5 U.S.C. 1221(a), an employee, former employee, or applicant for employment may appeal to the Board from agency personnel actions alleged to have been threatened, proposed, taken, or not taken because of the appellant's whistleblowing activities.
(b) The Board exercises jurisdiction over:
(1) Individual right of action (IRA) appeals. These are authorized by 5 U.S.C. 1221(a) with respect to personnel actions listed in 1209.4(a) of this part that are allegedly threatened, proposed, taken, or not taken because of the appellant's whistleblowing activities. If the action is not otherwise directly appealable to the Board, the appellant must seek corrective action from the Special Counsel before appealing to the Board.
Example 1:
Agency A gives Mr. X a performance evaluation under 5 U.S.C. chapter 43 that rates him as “minimally satisfactory.” Mr. X believes that the agency has rated him “minimally satisfactory” because he reported that his supervisor embezzled public funds in violation of Federal law and regulation. Because a performance evaluation is not an otherwise appealable action, Mr. X must seek corrective action from the Special Counsel before appealing to the Board or before seeking a stay of the evaluation. If Mr. X appeals the evaluation to the Board after the Special Counsel proceeding is terminated or exhausted, his appeal is an IRA appeal.
Example 2:
As above, Agency A gives Mr. X a performance evaluation under 5 U.S.C. chapter 43 that rates him as “minimally satisfactory.” Mr. X believes that the agency has rated him “minimally satisfactory” because he previously filed a Board appeal of the agency's action suspending him without pay for 15 days and because he testified on behalf of a co-worker in an EEO proceeding. The Board would not have jurisdiction over the performance evaluation as an IRA appeal because the appellant has not made an allegation of a violation of 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8), i.e., a claim of retaliation for a protected whistleblowing disclosure. Retaliation for filing a Board appeal would constitute a different prohibited personnel practice, 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(9), retaliation for having exercised an appeal, complaint, or grievance right granted by any law, rule, or regulation. Similarly, retaliation for protected EEO activity is a prohibited personnel practice under subsection (b)(9), not under subsection (b)(8).
Example 3:
Citing alleged misconduct, an agency proposes Employee Y's removal. While that removal action is pending, Y files a complaint with OSC alleging that the proposed removal was initiated in retaliation for her having disclosed that an agency official embezzled public funds in violation of Federal law and regulation. OSC subsequently issues a letter notifying Y that it has terminated its investigation of the alleged retaliation with respect to the proposed removal. Employee Y may file an IRA appeal with respect to the proposed removal.
(2) Otherwise appealable action appeals. These are appeals to the Board under laws, rules, or regulations other than 5 U.S.C. 1221(a) that include an allegation that the action was based on the appellant's whistleblowing activities. (Examples of such otherwise appealable actions are listed in 5 CFR 1201.3(a).) An individual who has been subjected to an otherwise appealable action must make an election of remedies as described in 5 U.S.C. 7121(g) and paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section.
Example 4:
Same as Example 3 above. While the OSC complaint with respect to the proposed removal is pending, the agency effects the removal action. OSC subsequently issues a letter notifying Y that it has terminated its investigation of the alleged retaliation with respect to the proposed removal. With respect to the effected removal, Employee Y can elect to appeal that action directly to the Board or to proceed with a complaint to OSC. If she chooses the latter option, she may file an IRA appeal when OSC has terminated its investigation, but the only issue that will be adjudicated in that appeal is whether she proves that her protected disclosure was a contributing factor in the removal action and, if so, whether the agency can prove by clear and convincing evidence that it would have removed Y in the absence of the protected disclosure. If she instead files a direct appeal, the agency must prove its misconduct charges, nexus, and the reasonableness of the penalty, and Y can raise any affirmative defenses she might have.
(c) Issues before the Board in IRA appeals. In an individual right of action appeal, the only merits issues before the Board are those listed in 5 U.S.C. 1221(e), i.e., whether the appellant has demonstrated that one or more whistleblowing disclosures was a contributing factor in one or more covered personnel actions and, if so, whether the agency has demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same personnel action(s) in the absence of the protected disclosure(s). The appellant may not raise affirmative defenses other than reprisal for whistleblowing activities, such as claims of discrimination or harmful procedural error. In an IRA appeal that concerns an adverse action under 5 U.S.C. 7512, the agency need not prove its charges, nexus, or the reasonableness of the penalty, as a requirement under 5 U.S.C. 7513(a), i.e., that its action is taken “only for such cause as will promote the efficiency of the service.” However, the Board may consider the strength of the agency's evidence in support of its adverse action in determining whether the agency has demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same personnel action in the absence of the protected disclosure(s).
(d) Elections under 5 U.S.C. 7121(g).
(1) Under 5 U.S.C. 7121(g)(3), an employee who believes he or she was subjected to a covered personnel action in retaliation for protected whistleblowing “may elect not more than one” of 3 remedies: An appeal to the Board under 5 U.S.C. 7701; a negotiated grievance under 5 U.S.C. 7121(d); or corrective action under subchapters II and III of 5 U.S.C. chapter 12, i.e., a complaint filed with the Special Counsel (5 U.S.C. 1214), which can be followed by an IRA appeal filed with the Board (5 U.S.C. 1221). Under 5 U.S.C. 7121(g)(4), an election is deemed to have been made based on which of the 3 actions the individual files first.
(2) In the case of an otherwise appealable action as described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, an employee who files a complaint with OSC prior to filing an appeal with the Board has elected corrective action under subchapters II and III of 5 U.S.C. chapter 12, i.e., a complaint filed with OSC, which can be followed by an IRA appeal with the Board. As described in paragraph (c) of this section, the IRA appeal in such a case is limited to resolving the claim(s) of reprisal for whistleblowing activities.
[77 FR 62373, Oct. 12, 2012]

Title 5 published on 2014-01-01

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