What to Do If You Are a Federal Employee Being Investigated for Misconduct

What Are Your Rights as a Federal Employee?

Federal employees have certain rights when it comes to being investigated for misconduct. This includes the right to legal counsel, which allows them to obtain advice and guidance on navigating the investigation process. Additionally, federal employees have the right to refuse to answer certain questions or provide information related to their investigation without counsel present.

Furthermore, they have the right to be aware of the details surrounding the investigation, such as what will be asked during any interviews or other questioning sessions. Other relevant rights also exist and should be discussed with an experienced federal employment lawyer who can provide further guidance on navigating the process of an investigation against a federal employee.

As a federal employee, you have some fundamental rights when under investigation for misconduct (depending on the type of investigation), including:

  • A right to refuse to answer questions about the investigation
  • A right to remain silent if your answers could disclose criminal acts
  • A right to legal counsel

It is crucial to understand that these rights do not necessarily apply to all investigations. In some cases, you may be legally required to answer questions pertaining to the investigation.

For more information regarding what constitutes misconduct, review our blog.

Steps to Take if You Have Received a Garrity or Kalkines Warning

If you are a federal employee who has received a Garrity or Kalkines warning, it is important to understand the implications. A Garrity or Kalkines warning is a notification given to federal employees prior to questioning during an investigation by an agency of the federal government.

A Garrity warning informs the federal employee of their right to remain silent when answers may incriminate them and notifies them that anything they do say may be used against them in an administrative or criminal proceeding. A Garrity warning also lets the employee under investigation know that their decision to remain silent will not lead to disciplinary action.

Kalkines warnings are issued in cases where the government will not be pursuing criminal charges, and instead, the investigation will be focused on administrative remedies and/or administrative discipline. A Kalkines warning informs the employee that they may be compelled to answer questions during the investigation, and failure or refusal to answer may result in disciplinary action. While federal employees have their 5th Amendment right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination, the Kalkines warning effectively removes the possibility of criminal prosecution, thereby rendering the 5th Amendment right moot.

It is highly recommended that if a federal employee receives such warnings, they seek legal counsel immediately so they can be best informed on how to respond and handle the investigation.

Potential Outcomes of a Federal Conduct Investigation

Investigations into misconduct by federal employees can have serious implications, and, as such, it is important to understand the potential consequences. Depending on the outcome of an investigation, consequences may include suspension or removal from a position with the federal government, referral for criminal prosecution, civil penalties, fines or restitution, revocation of licenses or certifications, disciplinary actions such as reprimands or demotions in rank/grade/pay level, and other potential penalties.

Why You Should Exercise Your Right to Legal Counsel

If a federal employee is under investigation for misconduct, they should strongly consider taking advantage of their right to legal counsel. Legal counsel can provide clarity and expertise regarding the process as well as act as an advocate for the employee and work to protect their rights throughout the investigation. Having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can also help guide the employee in responding to questions during interviews or interrogations and may help to minimize potential ramifications from the misconduct allegations.

Regardless of the type of investigation you are facing, criminal or noncriminal, working with an experienced federal employment attorney, like ours at the Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC, may make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Our team knows the ins and outs of federal employment law, and we have helped countless federal employees through all types of misconduct investigations. When you work with us, our primary goal is to aid you in preserving your career and avoiding disciplinary actions.

Review our website for more information on federal conduct investigations, or send us a message online to schedule a consultation with us.