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Under 5 U.S.C. §§ 2302(b)(1) – (b)(14)
a federal employee authorized to take, direct others to take,
recommend or approve any personnel action may not:
(including discrimination based on marital status and political
Supervisor Joe refuses
to promote Employee Jane because Jane is a registered
Republican; or his refusal is because she is a single mother.
(OSC will generally defer Title VII discrimination
allegations to the EEO process, rather than duplicating
already existing procedures.)
Solicit or consider
employment recommendations based on factors other than personal
knowledge or records of job-related abilities or
Selecting Official Joe
hires Applicant Jack based on Senator Smith’s
recommendation that Jack be hired because Jack is a
constituent; or fails to hire Applicant Jane because of
Congressman Smith’s recommendation based on the
Congressman’s friendship with Jane’s parents.
political activity of any person, or take action against any
employee as reprisal for refusing to engage in political
Supervisor Jane takes away
significant job duties of Employee Jack because Jack will not make
a contribution to Jane’s favorite candidate.
willfully obstruct any person from competing for employment.
Supervisor Joe, located in
Headquarters, orders that no vacancy announcements be posted in
the field office where Employee Jack works because he does not
want Jack to get a new job; or falsely states that there will be
extensive travel in the position when he knows that there is no
Jane asks First-level Supervisor Joe to hire her son; or to
promote her daughter.
Take a personnel
action against an employee because of whistleblowing.
Supervisor Joe directs the
geographic reassignment of Employee Jack because Jack reported
safety violations to the agency’s Inspector General; or
because employee Jill reported a gross waste of funds to the
Office of Internal Affairs.
Take a personnel
action against any employee because of the exercise of an appeal,
complaint, or grievance right.
Supervisor Jane places
Employee Jack on an undesirable detail because Employee Jack filed
an administrative grievance about his performance rating.
against an employee on the basis of conduct, which does not
adversely affect the performance of the employee, including
discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Jack’s employment is
terminated because he attended a “Gay Pride” march; or
he attended a “Pro-Life” event; or he attended an
animal rights rally; or he attended a gun-owners’ rights
Take or fail to
take a personnel action, if such action would violate a
veterans’ preference requirement.
Supervisor Jane hired
Employee Jack, without considering Veteran Jennifer, who was
included on the list of eligible employees. (OSC’s
jurisdiction is for disciplinary actions only; the Dept. of Labor
has jurisdiction to investigate for corrective actions.).
person to withdraw from competition for a position to improve or
injure the employment prospects of any other person.
Supervisor Jane, in an
effort to hire Employee Joe, tells Employee Jack that he should
not apply for a position because he is not qualified and will
never be selected. Employee Jack is qualified.
unauthorized preference to a person to improve or injure the
employment prospects of any particular employee or applicant.
Supervisor Jane specifies
that Spanish-speaking skills are necessary for a vacant position,
for the purpose of selecting Employee Jack, who speaks fluent
Spanish. The position, however, does not require Spanish-speaking
Take a personnel
action against an employee which violates a law, rule, or
regulation which implements a merit systems principle.
Supervisor Joe terminates
the probationary appointment of Employee Jack because of
Jack’s letter to the editor criticizing affirmative
action—a valid exercise of First amendment rights, a law
implementing a merit system principle.
enforce a nondisclosure agreement or policy lacking notification
of whistleblower rights.
A manager requires all
employees in his program to sign a non-disclosure agreement that
prohibits the employees from discussing the program in any way and
fails to notify employees of protected channels for making
Access the medical
record of an employee or applicant, as part of, or in furtherance
of any of the above-listed prohibitions.
An employee expresses
interest in an open position to the hiring official, who wants to
hire another applicant. The hiring official accesses the
employee’s medical record and attempts to influence the
employee to withdraw from competition by telling her that the
stress of the new position will worsen a condition found in her
Current and former federal employees, including probationary
employees, and applicants for federal employment can file a written
complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Complaint forms
are available on the Web at
www.osc.gov. Employees do not need
attorneys to file a complaint. OSC is an independent and
prosecutorial agency. It will investigate allegations of prohibited
personnel practices and seek the appropriate corrective and/or
5 U.S.C. § 1213
Current and former federal employees and applicants can
confidentially report information evidencing a violation of any law,
rule, or regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an
abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public
health or safety. OSC has the authority to require the head of the
agency concerned to investigate the matter if OSC determines that a
disclosure has been made.
5 U.S.C. §§ 7321 – 26
OSC is authorized to issue advisory opinions that respond to
federal employee questions about whether or not they may engage in
specific political activities under the Act. OSC also prosecutes
violations of the Hatch Act before the Merit Systems Protection
Board. These violations include: using official authority to
interfere with an election result; soliciting, accepting or receiving
political contributions; soliciting or discouraging political
activity of persons before the employing agency; and running for
public office in a partisan political election.
Prohibited Personnel Practices
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Your Rights as a Federal Employee
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