The case of Whistleblower Reprisal
January 10, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla.-- A noncommissioned officer has noticed the unit family readiness group funds are being used inappropriately by the FRG leader.
This NCO wants to do the right thing and brings the matter to the platoon sergeant. He informs the NCO this matter is of no concern of his and to leave it alone.
The young NCO then informs his platoon sergeant if nothing is done about this matter, he will inform the inspector general.
Later that day, the first sergeant talks with this NCO and states that going to the IG could be considered disloyalty to his organization and have an impact on his NCO/officer evaluation report (NCOER).
Of course this is just a scenario, but it is still considered Whistleblower Reprisal. Department of Defense Directive 7050.06 states a protected communication is any lawful communication to a member of Congress or an IG; communication in which a member of the armed forces communicates information he or she reasonably believes violates a law or regulation. This communication can happen to any of the following: member of Congress, an IG, inspection team, law enforcement organization or to a member in the chain of command.
Reprisal is defined as: Taking or threatening to take unfavorable personnel action, or withholding or threatening to withhold a favorable personnel action, for making or preparing to make a protected communication. In the example used, the NCO was threatened with a negative NCOER and had not actually been punished. This action would still be considered whistleblower reprisal because of the threat of negative recourse for making a protected communication.
When the IG office receives a case of Whistleblower Reprisal, the first action we take is to start the fact finding process. Our team gathers information from the complainant regarding the case, then verifies if this data could indeed be a reprisal.
We understand there is always more than one side of a story, so we will want to make sure there is merit to each situation.
If there is evidence to support the claim of reprisal, our office will refer the cases to the Department of the Army IG for approval to investigate. Once approval is received, the IG office will conduct an investigation into the alleged incident.
If at any time you or another Soldier have been reprised against, speak with your chain of command. If there is no resolution, contact your local IG at 442-3224.