1150 Complaint in the Navy

1150 Complaint in the Navy

May 4, 2020

An 1150 Complaint is unique to the Navy.

Sailors may hear about an 1150 complaint, as well as an Article 138 Complaint.  They are distinct, and it is important to understand the difference.

If a Sailor wishes to file a complaint against their commanding officer, they should file an Article 138 Complaint, explained at this link.  If a Sailor wishes to file a complaint against a military superior, who is not their commanding officer, an 1150 Complaint is the proper way to do so.  1150 complaints are explained in JAG instruction 5800.7F on page 3-3.

U.S. Navy Regulations state that "[i]f any person in the naval service considers him or herself wronged by an act, omission, decision or order of a person who is superior in rank or command, that person shall not fail in maintaining a respectful bearing toward such superior, but may report the wrong to the proper authority for redress in a manner provided in this article."

The "proper authority" depends on if the individual making the complaint (complainant) and the individual committing the wrong (subject) share a Commander.   Essentially, if they share a unit, the complaint should be made directly to their shared Commander.   That Commander will then resolve the complaint.  If the individual in question is not satisfied, then he/she should follow the Article 138 Complaint procedures.

If the subject and complainant do not share the same Commander, then the complaint should be made through the complainant's Commander and the subject.

What can be the subject of an 1150 complaint?  Basically, a complainant can bring an 1150 complaint for any final and discretionary decision made by a superior that caused some sort of harm to the complainant.  Recommendations are not considered final actions.  Furthermore, an 1150 complaint cannot be made for an action regulated under other Department of the Navy Regulations (i.e. a Board of Inquiry, Nonjudicial Punishment Proceedings).   The complaint has to be sure to make a valid request for fixing the wrong; it cannot request that punitive action be taken against someone else .  A complainant may request that military records be changed, as long as the complaint is made within a certain time period.

Complaints have to be made in a certain format, available in Appendix A-3-a of 5800.7F. Complainants should be sure to be very specific about the harm done as well as the action requested.  Attaching outside evidence (i.e. statements, text messages) is sometimes a good idea.  After the complaint is made, the subject of the complaint "shall respond." The complainant is entitled to review the subject's response that is submitted. Unless a shared Commander decides the complaint (see above), a General Officer investigates and makes a decision.   A complainant will be provided the complete inquiry and has a chance to submit a response, if desired. A complete report has to be sent to the Secretary of the Navy for review.

An 1150 Complaint can be a powerful tool; however, it is challenging to navigate how to make an effective one without the assistance of a military lawyer.

This article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry

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