Questions for supervisors about protection from retaliation for employee whistleblowers

  1. What is the Whistleblower Protection Policy?
  2. What is a "protected disclosure" and an "illegal order?"
  3. What do I do when an employee complains to me that his supervisor is harassing him because he's blown the whistle?
  4. What happens if retaliation is found to have occurred?
  5. This policy is long and detailed and I want to properly handle situations that arise and whistleblower retaliation complaints that come to me. Where do I go for help?

1. What is the Whistleblower Protection Policy?

The Whistleblower Protection Policy (pdf) protects employees and applicants for employment from interference or retaliation by university officials for having made a "protected disclosure" or for having refused an "illegal order." The policy sets forth a procedure for filing and addressing complaints of retaliation for whistleblowing.

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2. What is a "protected disclosure" and an "illegal order"?

A "protected disclosure" is any good faith communication that discloses or demonstrates an intention to disclose information that may evidence: an improper governmental activity (i.e., an unlawful act such as corruption, bribery, theft or misuse of university property, fraudulent claims, fraud, coercion, willful omission to perform duty, or economic waste, or gross misconduct, gross incompetence or gross inefficiency); or * 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.

An "illegal order" means any directive to violate or assist in violating an applicable federal, state or local law, rule or regulation or any order to work or cause others to work in conditions outside of their line of duty that would unreasonably threaten the health or safety of employees or the public.

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3. What do I do when an employee complains to me that his supervisor is harassing him because he's blown the whistle?

Let the employee know that there is a policy that protects him or her from retaliation for whistleblowing. You can try to resolve the complaint informally and advise the alleged retaliator of the university's prohibition against retaliation. If the employee wants to pursue the matter formally, you should refer him or her to the Human Resources or Academic Personnel Office to file a complaint under the staff or academic personnel policies or collective bargaining agreement; or you can also refer the employee directly to the Locally Designated Official. If the employee has given you a written retaliation complaint, you must refer the complaint to the Locally Designated Official.

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4. What happens if retaliation is found to have occurred?

The Chancellor through the appropriate channel or, in the case of Academic Senate members, the appropriate Senate Committee, determines the corrective action, if any, which will be initiated against the university employee who is found to have retaliated. The corrective action will be in accordance with the applicable personnel policy or collective bargaining agreement. For a member of the Academic Senate, disciplinary proceedings will be in accordance with procedures established by the Academic Senate.

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5. This policy is long and detailed and I want to properly handle situations that arise and whistleblower retaliation complaints that come to me. Where do I go for help?

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

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