An Individual Right of Action (IRA) appeal essentially concerns whistleblower retaliation. In the context of federal public employment, the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) grants you the right to appeal a personnel action taken in retaliation for whistleblowing or other protected activity to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
To be eligible to file an IRA appeal with the MSPB, you should first file a “prohibited personnel practice” (PPP) complaint with the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC). If the OSC has not taken corrective action in 120 days, you can then file an IRA appeal with the MSPB.
The IRA process also expands the range of personnel actions taken in response to whistleblowing or other protected activity that can be appealed, including:
- Decisions affecting your pay, benefits, or awards
- Appointments or promotions
- Reinstatement, restoration, or reemployment
- A detail, transfer, or reassignment
- A specific performance evaluation
- Implementations or enforcements of a nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement
- Orders for psychiatric testing or examination
- Decisions concerning education or training (if the education or training may lead to an appointment, promotion, performance evaluation, or other personnel action)
- Any other significant change in duties, responsibilities, or working conditions
How to File an IRA Appeal
As mentioned above, to initiate an IRA case, you must first file a complaint with the OSC to exhaust all your administrative remedies before appealing to the MSPB. After the OSC, you can then file your IRA appeal and can expect the Administrative Judge assigned to your case to issue an Order to Show Cause. You will typically be given 10 days to respond, during which you will need to provide evidence showing that you have experienced retaliation for whistleblowing.
In any whistleblower appeal, you will have the burden of proving by a “preponderance of the evidence” that your whistleblowing activity was a contributing factor in the personnel action threatened or taken against you. One example of how you might prove this is to show that the official taking the personnel action knew about the whistleblowing and acted against you during a reasonable time that would suggest reactionary retaliation. Your employer might combat your accusations by saying they would have taken the same personnel action even if you did not engage in whistleblowing, but the standard of proof for them will be higher. You will also be required to show that you already approached the OSC.
In a successful case, the MSPB will order corrective action. Pitre & Associates, LLC can help you build a strong IRA case that works towards the outcome you are looking for. You should not be punished for protected activity like whistleblowing, and you are protected under the WPA to look after the interests of the national government by reporting unlawful behavior in your workplace.
If you have been retaliated against for whistleblowing and the OSC has not taken measures to remedy the situation, you can proceed with an IRA appeal to protect your rights.
Schedule a free initial consultation with Pitre & Associates, LLC to get started on your IRA appeal today. Let’s assert your rights under the WPA and as a federal employee.