In today’s post, I want to discuss the Relief for Cause OER. Let me preface by telling you that I hope you never receive this type of evaluation report, or have to write one for one of your subordinates. But, if you plan on making a career out of the Army, there’s a good chance that one of these two situations might happen to you at some time or another. If either of these two events happen, it is in your best interest to EDUCATE yourself about the regulations and procedures concerning a Relief for Cause.
What is Relief for Cause?
According to AR 623-3, a “Relief for Cause” is defined as an early release of an officer from a specific duty or assignment directed by superior authority and based on a decision that the officer has failed in his or her performance of duty.” In layman’s terms, it’s the process of formally getting fired from your job.
Please note that this isn’t very common in the Army. Normally, you get a few “chances” to correct your behavior or performance. Or, you get a “less than stellar” evaluation report. During my 15 years, I only knew one person that actually received a “Relief for Cause” OER. And I met plenty of people who weren’t very good at their job or they got “informally” fired.
Reasons for a Relief for Cause OER
In most cases, a Relief for Cause happens when a rater loses confidence in a subordinate’s ability to successfully perform her job due to misconduct, poor judgment, the subordinate’s inability to complete assigned duties, or for similar reasons. When this happens, the rater has the authority to relieve the subordinate officer.
Some examples might include:
- A death in a unit that could/should have been prevented
- Losing weapons or sensitive items
- You can also be relieved if your rated officer finds out about something you did in the past
Typically, the reason is determined by the rater or senior rater. After reading the official regulations, I could not find any specific examples.
Before you initiate a Relief for Cause for one of your subordinates, here are a few things you should consider:
1) Wait 2-3 days until your emotions die down so you can make a logical decision about the issue
2) Explore other courses of action to see if there is another viable solution with less “long-term” impact on the officer
3) Consult with your Legal Team to find out your role, responsibility and obligation
4) Sit down with the Soldier to hear their side of the story
5) Initiate a 15-6 Investigation, if required, to look into the matter (talk with JAG first)
6) Read AR 623-3 and DA PAM 623-3 to educate yourself on the process and regulations
Once you take these steps, you will be educated about the process and your courses of action. At this point, trust your gut decision.
You have the right to appeal the Relief for Cause OER, but the odds of winning are against you. The best thing you can do is schedule a consultation with your S1 or local JAG Office. Find out what your rights are and educate yourself on the regulations covering the appeals process (see below). There are lots of different rules for the process, depending upon the rank of the officer.
You might also want to consider the time involved to appeal it, the evidence you have to back-up your opinion of the matter, how much longer you have in your career or obligation and the advice you get from JAG or a civilian attorney.
I’d like to close by saying the Relief for Cause OER is typically a “career ending” evaluation report for the rated officer. While it may be necessary at times, the rated officer should always do their due diligence and determine if there is another course of action that would remedy the situation. If nothing else, consult with JAG and put some serious thought into the matter before you choose this course of action.
If you have any questions I may be able to help you with on this complicated subject, just post them below and I will do my best to provide an answer.
References You Should Read
- AR 623-3
- DA PAM 623-3