Chapter 3.68


3.68.010    Policy.

3.68.020    Definitions.

3.68.030    Procedures for reporting improper governmental action.

3.68.040    Protection against retaliatory action.

3.68.010 Policy.

It is the policy of Kitsap County to encourage reporting by its employees of improper governmental action by officials and employees of Kitsap County; and to protect Kitsap County employees who have reported improper governmental actions in accordance with Kitsap County policies and procedures. Elected officials, department heads and employees of Kitsap County are prohibited from taking retaliatory action against an employee because the employee has, in good faith, reported alleged improper governmental action in accordance with Kitsap County policies and procedures. A Kitsap County employee failing to follow this policy and procedure in reporting improper governmental action shall not be eligible for the protections outlined.

(Ord. 151 (1993) § 1, 1993)

3.68.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

(a)    “Emergency” means a circumstance that if not immediately changed may cause damage to persons or property.

(b)    “Improper governmental action” means any action by an official or employee of Kitsap County:

(1)    That is undertaken in the performance of the official’s or employee’s official duties, whether or not the action is within the scope of the employee’s employment; and

(2)    That is in violation of any federal, state or local law or rule; is an abuse of authority; is of substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety; or is a gross waste of public funds.

“Improper governmental action” does not include personnel actions, including employee grievances, complaints, appointments, promotions, transfers, assignments, reassignments, reinstatements, restorations, reemployments, performance evaluations, reductions in pay, dismissals, suspensions, demotions, violations of collective bargaining or civil service laws, alleged violations of labor agreements, reprimands or any action that may be taken under Chapter 41.08, 41.12, 41.14, 41.56, 41.59 or 53.18 RCW, or RCW 54.05.170 and 54.04.180.

(c)    “Retaliatory action” means (1) any adverse change in a local government employee’s employment status, or the terms and conditions of employment, including denial of adequate staff to perform duties, frequent staff changes, frequent and undesirable office changes, refusal to assign meaningful work, unwarranted and unsubstantiated letters of reprimand or unsatisfactory performance evaluations, demotion, transfer, reassignment, reduction in pay, denial of promotion, suspension, dismissal or any other disciplinary action; or (2) hostile actions by another employee towards a local government employee that were encouraged by a supervisor or senior manager or official.

(Ord. 151-A, 1995; Ord. 151 (1993) § 2, 1993)

3.68.030 Procedures for reporting improper governmental action.

(a)    Persons or officials to whom reports should be made:

(1)    Kitsap County employees who become aware of improper governmental actions should raise the issue first with their department head or elected official;

(2)    Where the employee reasonably believes the improper governmental action involves his/her department head or elected official, the employee may raise the issue directly with the county board of commissioners or the county prosecuting attorney.

(b)    The employee shall submit a written report to the department head or elected official and the board of commissioners stating in detail the basis for the employee’s belief that an improper governmental action has occurred.

(c)    In the case of an emergency, where the employee believes that damage to persons or property may result if action is not taken immediately, the employee may report the improper governmental action directly to the appropriate government agency with responsibility for investigating the improper action.

(d)    County employees may report information about improper governmental actions directly to the appropriate government agency provided that a written report has been submitted to the board of commissioners and the employee reasonably believes that the insufficient action of the county has not addressed the improper governmental action or that for other reasons it is likely to recur. All attempts to resolve the improper governmental action through the county procedures should be exhausted before reporting the improper governmental action to an outside agency. A list of appropriate government agencies is attached to the ordinance codified in this chapter and on file for inspection.

(e)    County employees who fail to make a good faith attempt to follow county procedures in reporting improper governmental actions shall not receive the protection provided by Kitsap County in these procedures.

(Ord. 151 (1993) § 3, 1993)

3.68.040 Protection against retaliatory action.

(a)    County officials and employees are prohibited from taking retaliatory actions against a county employee because he/she has in good faith reported an improper governmental action in accordance with these policies and guidelines.

(b)    Procedure for Reporting Retaliation:

(1)    Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for reporting an improper governmental action shall provide written notice of the charge to the board of county commissioners no later than thirty days after the occurrence of the alleged retaliatory action.

(2)    The written notice shall state:

(A)    The specific retaliatory action(s); and

(B)    The specific relief requested.

(3)    The county shall respond to the written notice no later than thirty days.

(c)    Request for Administrative Hearing.

(1)    Purpose of hearing:

(A)    Retaliatory action occurred; and

(B)    To obtain appropriate relief as provided by law.

(2)    Employee cannot request an administrative hearing until:

(A)    After receiving the response of the county; or

(B)    Thirty days after the delivery of the charge of retaliation to the county.

(3)    Employees seeking a hearing shall deliver the request for hearing to the county board of commissioners within:

(A)    Fifteen days of delivery of the county response to the charge of retaliation; or

(B)    Forty-five days of the delivery of the charge of retaliation to the county provided no response was issued.

(4)    Upon receipt of the request for a hearing, the county shall apply within five working days to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for an adjudicative proceeding before an administrative law judge to:

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 42488, 4224 Sixth SE

Rowe Six, Bldg. 1

Lacey, WA 98504-2488

(360) 664-8717

(5)    The employee must prove his/her claim by a preponderance of the evidence.

(6)    The final decision of the administrative law judge is subject to judicial review.

(7)    Relief ordered by the administrative law judge may be enforced by petition to superior court.

(Ord. 151 (1993) § 4, 1993)