United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Oct 23, 2020
If, not later than 10 days after a hearing officer submits the report on the preliminary review of a claim under section 1402a(c) of this title, a covered employee submits a request to the Executive Director for a hearing under this section, the Executive Director shall appoint an independent hearing officer pursuant to subsection (c) to consider the claim and render a decision, and a hearing shall be commenced in the Office.
A hearing officer may dismiss any claim that the hearing officer finds to be frivolous or that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Upon the filing of a request for a hearing under subsection (a), the Executive Director shall appoint an independent hearing officer to consider the request for a hearing under subsection (a) and render a decision. No Member of the House of Representatives, Senator, officer of either the House of Representatives or the Senate, head of an employing office, member of the Board, or covered employee may be appointed to be a hearing officer. The Executive Director shall select hearing officers on a rotational or random basis from the lists developed under paragraph (2). Nothing in this section shall prevent the appointment of hearing officers as full-time employees of the Office or the selection of hearing officers on the basis of specialized expertise needed for particular matters.
The Executive Director may not appoint a hearing officer to conduct a hearing under this section with respect to a claim if the hearing officer conducted the preliminary review with respect to the claim under section 1402a of this title.
Reasonable prehearing discovery may be permitted at the discretion of the hearing officer.
At the request of a party, a hearing officer may issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and for the production of correspondence, books, papers, documents, and other records. The attendance of witnesses and the production of records may be required from any place within the United States. Subpoenas shall be served in the manner provided under rule 45(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
If a person refuses, on the basis of relevance, privilege, or other objection, to testify in response to a question or to produce records in connection with a proceeding before a hearing officer, the hearing officer shall rule on the objection. At the request of the witness or any party, the hearing officer shall (or on the hearing officer’s own initiative, the hearing officer may) refer the ruling to the Board for review.
If a person fails to comply with a subpoena, the Board may authorize the General Counsel to apply, in the name of the Office, to an appropriate United States district court for an order requiring that person to appear before the hearing officer to give testimony or produce records. The application may be made within the judicial district where the hearing is conducted or where that person is found, resides, or transacts business. Any failure to obey a lawful order of the district court issued pursuant to this section may be held by such court to be a civil contempt thereof.
Process in an action or contempt proceeding pursuant to subparagraph (A) may be served in any judicial district in which the person refusing or failing to comply, or threatening to refuse or not to comply, resides, transacts business, or may be found, and subpoenas for witnesses who are required to attend such proceedings may run into any other district.
The hearing officer shall issue a written decision as expeditiously as possible, but in no case more than 90 days after the conclusion of the hearing. The written decision shall be transmitted by the Office to the parties. The decision shall state the issues raised in the claim, describe the evidence in the record, contain findings of fact and conclusions of law, contain a determination of whether a violation has occurred, and order such remedies as are appropriate pursuant to subchapter II. The decision shall be entered in the records of the Office. If a decision is not appealed under section 1406 of this title to the Board, the decision shall be considered the final decision of the Office.
A hearing officer who conducts a hearing under this section shall be guided by judicial decisions under the laws made applicable by section 1302 of this title and by Board decisions under this chapter.