Chapter 2.32


2.32.010    Definitions.

2.32.020    Procedures for reporting.

2.32.030    Protection against retaliatory actions.

2.32.040    Responsibilities.

2.32.010 Definitions.

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

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

“Improper governmental action” means any action by a town officer or employee that is:

1. Undertaken in the performance of the officer’s or employee’s official duties, whether or not the action is within the scope of the employee’s employment; and

2. 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.

“Retaliatory action” means any adverse change in the terms and conditions of a town employee’s employment. (Ord. 403 § 1, 1993)

2.32.020 Procedures for reporting.

A. Town employees who become aware of improper governmental actions should raise the issue first with their supervisor. If requested by the supervisor, the employee shall submit a written report to the supervisor, or to some person designated by the supervisor, stating in detail the basis for the employee’s belief that an improper governmental action has occurred. Where the employee reasonably believes the improper governmental action involves his or her supervisor, the employee may raise the issue directly with the town mayor or such other person as may be designated by the town to receive reports of improper governmental action.

B. In the case of an emergency wherein 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 governmental agency with responsibility for investigating the improper action.

C. The supervisor, town mayor or the town mayor’s designee, as the case may be, shall take prompt action to assist the town in properly investigating the report of improper governmental action. Town officers and employees involved in the investigation shall keep the identity of reporting employees confidential to the extent possible under law, unless the employee authorizes the disclosure of his or her identity in writing. After an investigation has been completed, the employee reporting the improper governmental action shall be advised of a summary of the results of the investigation, except that personnel actions taken as a result of the investigation may be kept confidential.

D. Town employees may report information about improper governmental action directly to the Okanogan County prosecuting attorney for investigation of the improper action if the town employee reasonably believes that an adequate investigation was not undertaken by the town to determine whether an improper governmental action occurred, or that insufficient action has been taken by the town to address the improper governmental action or that for other reasons the improper governmental action is likely to recur.

E. Town employees who fail to make a good-faith attempt to follow the town’s procedures in reporting improper governmental action shall not receive the protection provided by the town in these procedures. (Ord. 403 § 2, 1993)

2.32.030 Protection against retaliatory actions.

A. Town officials and employees are prohibited from taking retaliatory action against a town employee because he or she has in good faith reported an improper governmental action in accordance with these policies and procedures.

B. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for reporting an improper governmental action should advise their supervisor, the town mayor or the town mayor’s designee. Town officials and supervisors shall take appropriate action to investigate and address complaints of retaliation.

C. If the employee’s supervisor, the town mayor, or the town mayor’s designee, as the case may be, does not satisfactorily resolve a town employee’s complaint that he or she has been retaliated against in violation of this policy, the town employee may obtain protection under this policy, and pursuant to state law by providing a written notice to the town council that:

1. Specifies the alleged retaliatory action; and

2. Specifies the relief requested.

D. Town employees shall provide a copy of their written charge to the town mayor no later than thirty (30) days after the occurrence of the alleged retaliatory action. The town shall respond within thirty (30) days to the charge of retaliatory action.

E. After receiving either the response of the town or thirty (30) days after the delivery of the charge to the town, the town employee may request a hearing before a state administrative law judge to establish that a retaliatory action occurred and to obtain appropriate relief provided by law. An employee seeking a hearing should deliver the request for hearing to the town mayor within the earlier of either fifteen (15) days of delivery of the town’s response to the charge of retaliatory action, or forty-five (45) days of delivery of the charge of retaliation to the town for response.

F. Upon receipt of request for hearing, the town shall apply within five working days to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for an adjudicative proceeding before an administrative law judge:

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 42488, 4224 Sixth S.E.

Row Six, Bldg. 1

Lacey, WA 98504-2488

(360) 459-6353

G. The town will consider any recommendation provided by the administrative law judge that the retaliator be suspended with or without pay, or dismissed. (Ord. 403 § 3, 1993)

2.32.040 Responsibilities.

The mayor is responsible for implementing the town’s policies and procedures for reporting improper governmental action and for protecting employees against retaliatory actions. This includes ensuring that this policy and these procedures are permanently posted where all employees will have reasonable access to them, are made available to any employee upon request and are provided to all newly hired employees. Officers, managers and supervisors are responsible for ensuring the procedures are fully implemented within their areas of responsibility. Violations of this policy and these procedures may result in appropriate disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. (Ord. 403 § 4, 1993)