666 Prohibited Personnel Practices

666.1 Restrictions

666.11 Applicability of Restrictions

The following restrictions apply to any Postal Service employee who has authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action with respect to any employee, eligible, or applicant.

666.12 Prohibited Discrimination

The following provisions apply:

  1. Political Affiliation. No discrimination may be exercised, threatened, or promised by any person or in favor of any employee, eligible, or applicant because of political affiliation except as may be authorized or required by law.
  2. Individual Status. No person may be discriminated against because of race, color, religion, sex, age (40+), national origin, disability, reprisal based on protected activity, marital or parental status, or sexual orientation in connection with examination, appointment, reappointment, reinstatement, reemployment, promotion, transfer, demotion, removal, or retirement.
  3. Conduct That Does Not Adversely Impact Performance. No person may be discriminated for or against on the basis of conduct that does not adversely impact that person’s performance or the performance of others. In determining suitability or fitness of that person, any conviction for any crime under the laws of any state, the District of Columbia, or of the United States may be taken into account.
666.13 Nepotism

See provision applicable to nepotism in Handbook EL–312, Employment and Placement.

666.14 Improper Employment and Placement Practices

Deceitfully or willfully obstructing or improving the prospects of any person competing for a position by granting a preference or advantage not authorized by law, rule, or regulation (including defining the scope or manner of competition or the requirements for a position), or by influencing anyone to withdraw from competition for a position, is prohibited.

666.15 Improper Recommendations

Soliciting or considering any recommendation or statement, oral or written, with respect to any individual who requests or is under consideration for any personnel action is prohibited, unless such recommendation or statement is based on the personal knowledge or records of the person furnishing it and consists of:

  1. An evaluation of the work performance, ability, aptitude, or general qualification of such individual.
  2. An evaluation of the character, loyalty, or suitability of such individual.
666.16 Coercion of Political Activity

Coercion of the political activity of any person (including the providing of any political contribution or service), or the taking of any action as a reprisal for the refusal of any person to engage in such political activity, is prohibited.

666.17 Reprisal for Exercising Appeal Rights

Taking or failing to take any personnel action as a reprisal for the exercise of any appeal right granted by a law, rule, or regulation is prohibited.

666.18 Reprisal for Release of Information

No one may take or fail to take a personnel action, or threaten to do so, with respect to any employee or applicant for employment because the employee or applicant discloses information that he or she believes evidences:

  1. A violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or
  2. A gross waste of funds, gross mismanagement, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

Disclosure of information that is specifically prohibited by law does not carry the protection described above. However, no disclosure under a. and b. above is prohibited by law if made to the Inspector General of the Postal Service. There can be no reprisal for disclosures to the Inspector General unless the complaint was made or the information disclosed with the knowledge that it was false or with willful disregard for its truth or falsity.

666.2 Remedies

666.21 General

Depending on the status of the employee complaining and the action taken against him or her, complaints that one or more of the restrictions in 666.1 have been violated may be brought through the following appeal procedures.

666.22 Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Procedures

Any employee or applicant may file a complaint alleging discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age (40+), national origin, disability, or alleging reprisal based on protected EEO activity within 45 days of the event believed to be discriminatory. For details, see Publication 133, What You Need to Know About EEO.

666.23 Adverse Action Appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board

All employees eligible for veterans’ preference and certain other nonbargaining unit employees with one year of current continuous service in the same or similar position may appeal removals, reductions in grade or pay, suspensions of more than 14 days, or furloughs of 30 days or less. The appeal must be made to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) within 30 days of the effective date of the action. Preference eligible employees may also appeal reduction–in–force (RIF) actions to the MSPB.

666.24 Grievance Procedures

Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement may file grievances regarding wages, hours, and working conditions in accordance with the provisions of the applicable agreement. Nonbargaining unit employees at EAS–17 and below may use the procedure in ELM 652.4 to appeal matters other than suspensions or adverse actions. Nonbargaining unit employees at EAS–18 and above may use these procedures to appeal letters of warning and emergency placement in a nonduty status.

666.25 Nonbargaining Unit Appeals Procedures

Non–probationary employees not subject to the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement may appeal removals, reductions in grade or pay, and suspensions or furloughs of 30 days or less under the provisions of Part 652.2. Letters of warning in lieu of time–off suspensions may be appealed under the provisions contained in Part 652.3.

666.26 Other Appeal Procedures for Prohibited Personnel Practices

Allegations of violations of the provisions of 666 that cannot be brought through any other procedure may be sent to the following address:

VICE PRESIDENT LABOR RELATIONS
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE
475 L’ENFANT PLZ SW
WASHINGTON DC 20260–4100

Complaints filed with the vice president must be in writing and include as much specific information on the alleged violation as possible. The complaint is referred to the proper official. Allegations of violations of law are referred to the Inspection Service and⁄or the Office of Inspector General. The complainant will be informed in writing of the disposition of the complaint.

666.3 Whistleblower Protection

666.31 Allegations of reprisal for the release of information as set forth in ELM 666.18, raised by any Postal Service employee, should be addressed to:

UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE OFFICE OF
INSPECTOR GENERAL HOTLINE
1735 N LYNN ST
ARLINGTON VA 22209–2005

Allegations of reprisal received from Office of Inspector General employees will be referred to an outside organization or individual for investigation. In such instances, the outside organization or individual will act in place of the Office of Inspector General, and the Office of Inspector General will act in place of Postal Service management, regarding the application of the procedures set forth in this section.

666.32 Upon receipt of the allegations, the Office of Inspector General will conduct a preliminary review of the allegations. If the Office of Inspector General determines that the allegations warrant further review, a questionnaire may be sent to the complainant that must be completed and returned to the Office of Inspector General within 30 calendar days. The Office of Inspector General will review the completed questionnaire to determine whether it will investigate the allegations or decline further action.

If the Office of Inspector General declines to review allegations or terminates an investigation, it shall prepare and transmit to the complainant a written statement notifying the complainant of:

  1. Its decision not to review allegations or to terminate an investigation; and,
  2. The reasons for declining to review allegations or for terminating an investigation.

666.33 In addition to investigations of allegations submitted to the Office of Inspector General under ELM 666.31, the Office of Inspector General may, in the absence of an allegation, conduct an investigation for the purpose of determining whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that reprisal for disclosures protected by ELM 666.18 has occurred.

666.34 The Office of Inspector General may recommend to the Vice President, Labor Relations, for purposes of ELM 666.3, a stay of any pending personnel action until the conclusion of the investigation and the issuance of a report if the Office of Inspector General determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the personnel action was taken, as a result of a release of information as set forth in ELM 666.18. The Office of Inspector General shall provide to the Vice President, Labor Relations, an interim report explaining the nature of the allegations of reprisal and the reasons supporting the Office of Inspector General’s recommendation that a stay should be ordered.

666.341 The Vice President, Labor Relations, or designee, shall, within three business days of the request, order the stay unless he⁄she determines that, under the facts and circumstances involved, such a stay would be inappropriate.

666.342 A stay shall not be for a period in excess of 120 calendar days from the date granted and it may be terminated by the Vice President, Labor Relations at any time.

666.343 When the Vice President, Labor Relations, or designee, does not order the stay, he⁄she shall advise the Office of Inspector General of his⁄her decision within three business days of the receipt of the request for a stay.

666.344 Where the Vice President, Labor Relations does not order a stay, or where a stay has been ordered and it is subsequently terminated by the Vice President, Labor Relations, the Office of Inspector General may request that a Postal Service Administrative Law Judge order a stay of a personnel action for a period of 45 days from the date granted.

  1. A stay will be granted if the Administrative Law Judge finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a personnel action was taken, or is to be taken, as a result of a release of information.
  2. Unless denied, any stay under this subparagraph shall be granted within 3 calendar days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) after the date of the request for the stay by the Office of Inspector General.
  3. A stay may be terminated by the Administrative Law Judge at any time, except that the Administrative Law Judge may not terminate a stay on his or her own motion or on the motion of the Postal Service, unless notice and opportunity for oral or written comments are first provided to the Office of Inspector General.

666.345 When a stay has been ordered, the Office of Inspector General shall notify the Vice President, Labor Relations in writing immediately if the Office of Inspector General terminates an investigation.

666.35 Except when the Office of Inspector General declines to investigate or does not substantiate the complainant’s allegations under 666.32, no later than 120 days after the date of receiving complainant’s completed questionnaire under 666.32, the Office of Inspector General shall provide an investigative report to the Vice President, Labor Relations.

666.36 After receipt of the investigative report, the Vice President, Labor Relations, shall advise the Office of Inspector General in writing of the Postal Service’s decision.

666.37 Where the Postal Service determines that no action is to be taken or, where the Office of Inspector General determines that the action taken by the Postal Service is not corrective, the complainant may appeal and obtain a hearing before a Postal Service Administrative Law Judge under the following conditions:

  1. The complainant is a nonbargaining unit employee who does not have a right to appeal the matter to the Merit Systems Protection Board or through the hearing procedures set forth in ELM 652.2;
  2. The appeal is only available for personnel actions as defined in ELM 669k; and
  3. The Office of Inspector General has found a prima facie case of reprisal for whistleblowing.

666.371 If the Administrative Law Judge finds that the Postal Service has established that it would have taken the same personnel action in the absence of a disclosure under ELM 668.1, no corrective action will be ordered.

666.372 Where the Administrative Law Judge orders corrective action, such corrective action will place the complainant, as nearly as possible, in the position the individual would have been in had the improper personnel action not occurred.

666.38 Complainants who raise an affirmative defense of whistleblower reprisal during the appeals process for adverse actions set forth in ELM 652.23 and the claim of whistleblower reprisal is not sustained, may file a written request within 30 calendar days from the date of issuance of the Step 1 decision for review of the whistleblower reprisal determination by a Postal Service Administrative Law Judge under the following conditions:

  1. The complainant is a nonbargaining unit employee who does not have a right to appeal the matter to the Merit Systems Protection Board,
  2. The complainant has made the allegation of whistleblower reprisal to the Office of Inspector General and the Office of Inspector General has found a prima facie case of reprisal for whistleblowing, and,
  3. There will be no hearing. The Administrative Law Judge’s review will be limited to the record of the appeal.

The decision on the allegation of whistleblower reprisal of the Step 1 official must be affirmed unless the Administrative Law Judge finds that it is 1) arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law; 2) obtained without procedure required by laws, rule, or regulation having been followed; or 3) unsupported by substantial evidence.

When the Administrative Law Judge does not affirm the decision of the Step 1 official, the Administrative Law Judge shall remand the appeal to the Step 1 official for issuance of a new decision on the merits. The Step 1 official shall be bound by the Administrative Law Judge’s finding regarding the allegation of whistleblower reprisal.