Office of the Inspector General – Reprisal


Reprisal occurs when a responsible management official takes (or threatens to take) an adverse personnel action against an individual, or witholds a favorable personnel action, because that individual made or was thought to have made a protected communication.

To claim reprisal, all of the following conditions must be met in chronological order (e.g. the protected communication must occur before the adverse personnel action):

Did you make a communication which is protected?
A communication which is protected is made to someone designated by law, rule or regulation to receive the information.

For military members, this includes any lawful communication to a member of Congress, an Inspector General, a member of a Department of Defense audit, inspection, investigation, or law enforcement organization, and/or any government official (to include chain-of-command management officials) designated under Component regulations or other established administrative procedures to receive such complaints.

For appropriated fund civilians, protected communications additionally includes disclosures to the Office of Special Counsel, or other entities designated to receive such disclosures of information reasonably believed by the employee to evidence a violation of law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety (See 5 U.S.C. §2302).

For nonappropriated fund (NAF) employees, the protected communication further includes disclosures to any civilian employee or member of the Armed Forces designated by law or by the Secretary of Defense to receive such disclosures (See 10 U.S.C. §1587).

For an employee of a Defense contractor, the protected communication further includes disclosures to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a DoD employee responsible for contract oversight or management, an authorized official of an agency, or the Department of Justice (See 10 U.S.C. §2409). Note: Disclosures to contractor officials are not protected under the statute.

Did the responsible management official have knowledge of your protected communication OR did responsible management official(s) believe you made a protected communication even if you didn’t?

Be prepared to explain why and how any responsible official knew of the protected communication before taking any personnel actions against you? Was there an actual adverse or unfavorable personnel action taken or threatened, or was a positive personnel action withheld?

A personnel action is any action that affects or has the potential to affect the member’s current position or career. These include unfavorable personnel security decisions (e.g. security clearance suspension or revocation); withholding or denial of promotions; disciplinary or other corrective action; transfer or reassignment; unfavorable performance evaluation; decision on pay, benefits, awards, or training; referral for a mental health evaluation; or other significant change in duties, responsibilities, or working conditions. Have documentation for each personnel action available to submit, if available. You are encouraged to read the applicable definitions and filing requirements specific to your employee status for more details.

If your circumstances meet all three basic criteria, then click on the Request Assistance tab to view details on how to submit a reprisal complaint.