POLICY 22
WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION Revised 2/18

SECTION INDEX:    Whistleblower Protection

1    Purpose

2    Reference

3    Application

4    Guidance

4.1    Definitions

4.2    Reporting

4.3    Response

4.4    Retaliation

4.5    Administration

4.6    List of Agencies

1. PURPOSE

This Policy encourages employees to report improper governmental action and protects them from retaliation for properly reporting improper governmental action.

2. REFERENCE

Local Government Employee Whistleblower Protection Act, Chapter 44, Laws of 1992.

3. APPLICATION

This Policy applies to all individuals employed by the City of Olympia.

Failure to comply with this Policy may result in disciplinary action including termination from City service.

4. GUIDANCE

The City encourages employees to report improper governmental actions. City employees and officials are prohibited from taking retaliatory action against an employee in the event the employee has, in good faith, reported alleged improper governmental action in accordance with this policy and related policies.

4.1. DEFINITIONS

As used in this Policy, the following terms shall mean:

a.    Improper governmental action means any action by a City officer or employee that:

1.    Is undertaken in the performance of official duties, whether or not the action is within the scope of the employee’s job; and

2.    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.

b.    Retaliatory actions means any adverse change in employment status or in the terms and conditions of employment.

c.    Emergency means a circumstance that if not immediately changed may cause damage to persons or property.

“Improper governmental action” does not include personnel actions, including employee grievances, complaints, appointments, promotions, transfers, assignments, reassignments, reinstatements, restorations, re-employments, performance evaluations, reduction in pay, dismissals, suspensions, demotions, and violations of collective bargaining or civil service laws, alleged violations of labor agreements or reprimands.

Employees who seek to report unlawful harassment or discrimination shall follow the complaint reporting procedures set forth in the City’s Discrimination and Harassment Prohibited Policy.

4.2. REPORTING

Employees who become aware of actions they believe constitute improper governmental action should raise the issue first with their supervisor.

a.    Where the employee reasonably believes the improper governmental action involves the supervisor, the employee may raise the issue directly with the department director, the Human Resources Director, City Attorney or City Manager.

b.    As an alternative, the employee may report directly to the appropriate outside agency listed in this policy. Except in cases of emergency, before reporting improper governmental action to an outside agency or person, an employee must first advise the City Manager of the complaint.

c.    In case of emergency where the employee believes that damage to persons or property may result if action is not taken immediately, or where the employee has a legal obligation to report (for instance, where child abuse is suspected), the employee shall report the improper governmental action directly to the appropriate government agency with responsibility for investigating the improper action.

d.    City employees who fail to make a good-faith attempt to follow this policy in reporting governmental conduct shall not be eligible for the protection provided.

4.3. RESPONSE

a.    The individual receiving the report shall take prompt action to see that the allegation of improper governmental action is properly investigated.

b.    Persons involved in the investigation shall keep the identity of the reporting employee(s) confidential to the extent possible under law, unless the employee(s) authorizes the disclosure of their identity in writing.

c.    After an investigation has been completed, the reporting employee shall receive a summary of the investigation results, except that resulting personnel actions may be kept confidential.

4.4. RETALIATION

a.    Employees who believe they have been retaliated against for reporting an improper governmental action should file a written complaint alleging retaliation with the Human Resources Director. If the employee believes the Human Resources Director is involved in the retaliation, the employee should report the retaliation directly to the City Manager.

b.    The written complaint must be filed within thirty (30) days of the alleged retaliation. The City will respond to the complaint within thirty (30) days of receiving the written notice.

c.    If the employee alleging retaliation receives no response from the City or objects to the City’s response, the employee may request that the City apply for a hearing before a state administrative law judge. The request for a hearing must be delivered in writing to the City Manager either fifteen (15) days following the City’s response, or forty-five (45) days after the complaint was filed, if there was no response.

The City will apply for a hearing within five working days to:

Mailing Address

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 42488

Olympia, WA 98504-2488

Physical Address

2420 Bristol Court SW

Olympia, WA 98502

(360) 407-2700 or (800) 583-8271.

The City will consider any recommendation provided by the administrative law judge concerning retaliation.

4.5. ADMINISTRATION

A summary of this policy will be posted where all employees will have reasonable access. The policy will be available to any employee on the Intranet and the policy will be given to all new employees.

4.6. LIST OF AGENCIES

The following is a list of agencies responsible for enforcing federal, state and local laws and investigating issues involving potential improper governmental action. Employees having questions about these agencies or the Policies for reporting improper governmental action are encouraged to contact the Human Resources Director.

LOCAL

Olympia Police Department

P.O. Box 1967

Olympia, WA 98507

753-8300

City of Olympia

Human Resources Director

P.O. Box 1967

Olympia, WA 98507

753-8309

City of Olympia

City Manager’s Office

PO Box 1967

Olympia, WA 98507

753-8244

City of Olympia

City Attorney’s Office

PO Box 1967

Olympia, WA 98507

753-8449

COUNTY

Thurston Co. Sheriff’s Office

Olympia, WA

Thurston Co. Prosecutor’s Office

Olympia, WA

Thurston Co. Environmental Protection

Olympia, WA

Thurston Co. Health Department

Olympia, WA

FEDERAL

U.S. Department of Education

Office of the Inspector General

Seattle, WA 98178

Environmental Protection Agency

Criminal Investigations

Seattle, WA 98121

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Seattle, WA

Mine Safety and Health Administration

Bellevue, WA

Department of Labor

Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA)

Seattle, WA

General Services Administration

Seattle, WA

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration

Bothell, WA

 

Trade Complaints:

Office of the Regional Secretary

General Counsel’s Office

Interstate Commerce Commission

Seattle, WA

Securities and Exchange Commission

Seattle, WA

Department of Treasury

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

Seattle, WA

Department of Interior

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

Division of Law Enforcement

Bellevue, WA

Department of Agriculture

Office of Inspector General

Seattle, WA

Office of Women’s Bureau

Seattle, WA

Audits and Investigations

Seattle, WA

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Department of Justice

Drug Enforcement Administration

Seattle, WA

Department of Veteran’s Affairs

Office of Inspector General

Seattle WA

Alcohol Tobacco And Firearms

Criminal Enforcement

Seattle, WA

Fraud/Waste/Abuse Hot Line:

Supervisor Auditor

Department of Commerce

Office of Inspector General

Seattle, WA

Supervisor Special Agent

Investigation

Government Accounting Office

Federal Trade Commission

Seattle, WA

U.S. Attorney

Seattle, WA

Consumer Product Safety Commission

U.S. Customs Service

Office of Enforcement

Seattle, WA

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Bothell, WA

Department of Transportation

Office of Inspector General

Seattle, WA

Revision history: February 2018; February 2017; October 2013. Superseded: Administrative Guideline Whistleblower Protection”.