Questions about protection from retaliation for being a whistleblower

  1. What if word gets out that I am a whistleblower and people are making it difficult for me to work here?
  2. What is considered to be "retaliation"?
  3. What are the basic requirements for a retaliation complaint?
  4. What information should I include in my retaliation complaint?
  5. What happens after I file the retaliation complaint?
  6. Who will investigate my complaint?
  7. How long will an investigation take?
  8. Who makes the decision on whether or not retaliation occurred?
  9. What if I don't agree with the decision?
  10. If retaliation was found, will I be informed of the action taken?
  11. The Whistleblower Protection Policy is long and detailed and I want to properly file a whistleblower retaliation complaint. Where do I go for help?

1. What if word gets out that I am a whistleblower and people are making it difficult for me to work here?

The university has a Whistleblower Protection Policy (pdf). If you feel you are being retaliated against for being a whistleblower, you can file a written retaliation complaint with the following:

  • the Academic Personnel or Human Resources Office under the applicable grievance or complaint resolution procedure (such as APM - 140 for academic personnel or PPSM 70 staff personnel) or under the applicable collective bargaining agreement;
  • the Locally Designated Official (the official at your location who is designated to receive retaliation complaints); or 
  • your supervisor, who will refer it to the Locally Designated Official.

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2. What is considered to be "retaliation?"

Examples of retaliation are management actions that violate the personnel policies applicable to you, or that adversely affect your terms and conditions of employment.

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3. What are the basic requirements for a retaliation complaint?

In order for a retaliation complaint to be accepted pursuant to any of the above processes, you must previously have:

  • filed a report or made a "protected disclosure" alleging improper governmental activities; or
  • alleged that you were threatened, coerced, commanded, or prevented by intimidation from filing a whistleblower report; or
  • refused to obey an illegal order.

A retaliation complaint filed with the Academic Personnel or Human Resources Office pursuant to an applicable personnel policy or collective bargaining agreement complaint resolution procedure must follow the specific prescribed thresholds, format, and process for these procedures. For example, the PPSM 70 complaint resolution procedure for staff employees requires that complaints be within the scope of the complaint resolution policy and be filed within 30 days of the alleged management action. A retaliation complaint filed with the Locally Designated Official must be in writing and submitted with a sworn statement that the contents of the complaint are true or believed to be true by the complainant under penalty of perjury, and must be filed within 12 months of the alleged act or threat of interference or retaliation.

A protected disclosure is any good faith communication that discloses or demonstrates an intention to disclose information that may evidence (a) an improper governmental activity or (b) any condition that may significantly threaten the health or safety of employees or the public if the disclosure or intention to disclose was made for the purpose of remedying that condition.

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4. What information should I include in my retaliation complaint?

The complaint must set forth in enough detail the necessary facts, including dates and names of relevant persons. It must contain facts supporting the filing thresholds set forth in the previous answer, the alleged retaliatory acts, and the effects on you of the alleged retaliatory acts.

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5. What happens after I file the retaliation complaint?

If you file your retaliation complaint with the Locally Designated Official, you may also have the opportunity to file a grievance under an applicable personnel policy or collective bargaining agreement complaint resolution procedure.

  • If your retaliation complaint is eligible for filing under an applicable personnel policy or collective bargaining agreement complaint resolution procedure, your retaliation complaint will be held until the end of the grievance filing period while you decide whether you also want to file a grievance.
    • If you elect to file a grievance, the retaliation complaint will be held in abeyance until all steps preceding hearing, arbitration or fact-finding have been completed and the case is ready to go to a hearing or arbitration or fact-finding. At that point, the retaliation complaint and the grievance are joined and the two will be handled together from then on by the Retaliation Complaint Officer (RCO).
    • If you elect not to file a grievance, at the end of the grievance filing period your retaliation complaint will be referred to the RCO who will oversee the investigation.
  • If your retaliation complaint is ineligible for filing under an applicable personnel policy or collective bargaining agreement complaint resolution procedure, your retaliation complaint will be referred to the RCO who will oversee the investigation. If you file a grievance about what you believe to be a retaliatory action, the LDO will receive a copy of the grievance.

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6. Who will investigate my complaint?

Depending upon the process, an arbitrator, a university or non-university hearing officer, a university committee, a fact-finder, or a Retaliation Complaint Officer may investigate your complaint allegations.

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7. How long will an investigation take?

Every attempt will be made to investigate and reach a decision as quickly as possible. However, it depends upon the process. For example, an RCO must present findings of fact for the Chancellor's decision within 120 days from the date on which the complaint was assigned to the RCO, unless an extension was granted.

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8. Who makes the decision on whether or not retaliation occurred?

It depends upon the process. An arbitrator, university or non-university hearing officer, university committee, or the Chancellor may make a decision.

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9. What if I don't agree with the decision?

A decision based on the substance of the complaint is final. However, a decision that the complaint was not filed on a timely basis or that the complaint does not qualify for review under the scope of the Whistleblower Protection Policy can be appealed to the Office of the President.

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10. If retaliation was found, will I be informed of the action taken?

You will be informed of any appropriate relief for yourself, but you will not necessarily be informed of any corrective action taken against the person who retaliated against you.

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11. The Whistleblower Protection Policy is long and detailed and I want to properly file a whistleblower retaliation complaint. Where do I go for help?

Consult your supervisor or other appropriate supervisor or administrator, the Locally Designated Official, or the Academic Personnel or Human Resources Office.

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