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U.S. Office of Special Counsel

1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20036-4505


(202) 653-7984

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has agreed to both individual and systemic corrective action in a case involving clerical staff in its Nashville, Tennessee call site office. An IRS employee complained to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that she was hired as a Tax Examining Clerk (Screener) GS-4, but was immediately placed in a Group Secretary, GS-5, position with different duties than the position for which she was hired. She further asserted that notwithstanding that she was in the GS-5 Group Secretary position, she was paid as a GS-4 Tax Examining Clerk.

    The OSC investigated the complaint to determine whether the agency violated 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(12). This provision of law states that it is a prohibited personnel practice for an agency to violate a law, rule or regulation that implements or concerns one of the merit systems principles found at 5 U.S.C. § 2301. Here the alleged violated principle is the failure of the IRS to provide equal pay for equal work. 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(3). The law, rule or regulation implementing that principle is 5 U.S.C. § 5101.

    During the course of its investigation, OSC discovered that there were three other IRS employees in the same situation as the complainant. The IRS has now agreed to offer complete corrective action to each of these individuals by providing retroactive promotions upon eligibility and backpay where appropriate. In addition, the IRS agreed to reassign the affected individuals at their requests to the positions for which they were hired.

    Further, the agency will provide systemic corrective action in the form of training. The IRS will require that all of its managers at the Nashville call site attend a minimum of four hours of personnel management training.  Another matter came to light during OSC’s investigation; the possible misuse of seasonal appointments. The IRS has agreed to investigate the issue, and work with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to develop agency-wide uniform guidance for the appropriate use and to define the limitations of seasonal appointments.

    The U.S. Office of Special Counsel receives, investigates, and prosecutes before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board charges concerning the commission of prohibited personnel practices, including reprisal for whistleblowing. OSC’s investigations frequently result in the favorable settlement of complaints without litigation.