Ask The Lawyer

By Debra Roth

Q & A Session: Favoritism Suspected of Affecting Bonus Distribution

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Q:

Our supervisor has two family members working in our office, at least one of whom she helped to get a job here.  Last year, the three of them received nearly $5,000 in awards which is a very large percentage of our office’s award budget.  What should I do?

A:

It seems like your supervisor and her family members received a large portion of the available award money in your office.  This does not necessarily mean there is misconduct – I do not know how many employees are in your office, who decided how to distribute the award money, or whether those three employees were truly excellent performers, among other variables.  Even so, you are familiar with the circumstances surrounding the award money and seem to view the matter as suspicious.  If you do, you could report the fact to your agency’s Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) for review.  The OIG will decide whether or not to investigate, and if they do, they will issue a report of the factual findings and, if necessary, refer it to management for possible disciplinary action.  I would note that nepotism in the federal workplace is prohibited under 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(7).  You can report allegations of nepotism to the Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”), an independent agency, by completing Form OSC-11, which is available on the OSC website.

This response is written by Michael S. Causey, associate attorney of Shaw Bransford & Roth P.C., a federal employment law firm.

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