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UC IRVINE ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES & PROCEDURES


BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS
General Administration
Sec. 700-06: Guidelines for Reporting Improper Activities and Guidelines for Filing Complaints of Retaliation for Reporting Improper Activities


Responsible Administrator: Associate Executive Vice Chancellor
Revised:
September 2010
 

References / Resources   UCI Report of Improper Governmental Activity Form   |  Procedure

  UCI Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint Form  |  Procedure

  How to Blow the Whistle on Suspected Improper Activities  |  (en Español)

Contact: UCOP Whistleblower Hotline at (800) 403-4744


A. Background

On December 18, 1989, the Office of the President issued the University of California Policy for Reporting Improper Governmental Activities and Protection Against Retaliation for Reporting Improper Activities.  The policy, which became effective January 1, 1990, enforces the University's responsibility to seek out and correct abuses regarding improper governmental activities ("IGA") by encouraging its employees and other persons to disclose IGA as defined in California Government Code § 8547, Reporting of Improper Governmental Activities, known as the "California Whistleblower Protection Act."  The policy also provides protection for those employees or applicants for employment who allege acts of reprisal or intimidation by University officials due to disclosure of IGA, provided there was no complicity on the part of those employees or applicants in the matters that are the subject of the allegations or an ensuing investigation.  This policy was revised October 4, 2002, to conform to changes in the law and was republished as two related policies:


B. Purpose

This procedure provides local implementing guidelines for the Whistleblower Policy ("WP") and Whistleblower Protection Policy ("WPP"), including procedures for reporting alleged IGA, and procedures for protection against alleged retaliation resulting from reporting of alleged IGA ("Retaliation").  Activities related to misappropriation of funds may be reported under this procedure but are investigated according to other relevant University policies.  Activities related to misconduct in research may be reported under this procedure but are investigated according to the Policy on Integrity in Research.  Activities related to discrimination or sexual harassment may be reported under this procedure, but are investigated according to Section 700-17, Guidelines for Sexual Harassment Complaint Resolution or Section 700-18, Guidelines for Discrimination Complaint Resolution.

The information or procedures described in this document provide local guidance for implementing the University’s Whistleblower Policy and Whistleblower Protection Policy on this campus. This document is intended to supplement the University’s systemwide Whistleblower Policy and Whistleblower Protection Policy.  If any provision contradicts the University’s systemwide Whistleblower Policy or the Whistleblower Protection Policy, the systemwide policy controls.


C. Responsibilities

  1. Locally Designated Official ("LDO")

    While the Chancellor is responsible for implementing the UC Whistleblower and Whistleblower Protection Policies at the local level, overall coordination and implementation of these policies on campus is delegated to the LDO.  The LDO manages all implementing procedures and ensures that UCI effectively responds to these issues.  UCI's LDO is the Associate Executive Vice Chancellor. 

    The LDO has the primary responsibility for receiving reports of allegations of IGA and administers local processes related to investigation and resolution of allegations of IGA.  The LDO also accepts and reviews all Retaliation complaints and administers local processes related to investigation and resolution of Retaliation complaints.  The LDO coordinates with appropriate campus grievance officers to ensure that the complainant is aware of any right he or she may have to file a complaint under the applicable grievance procedure.  The LDO may also refer a Retaliation complaint to a designated Retaliation Complaint Officer (“RCO”) for fact-finding (WPP § VI).  In such cases, the Chancellor receives and acts on fact-finding reports submitted by the RCO. 

    Consistent with applicable personnel policies or Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), the LDO, after appropriate consultation, considers whether an affected employee should be placed on an administrative leave or an investigatory leave.  Such a leave is not to be interpreted as discipline, an accusation, or a conclusion of guilt or innocence, of any individual, including the person on leave.  The appropriate Academic Personnel or Human Resources Office will be consulted before any employee is placed on such a leave.

  2. Investigations Workgroup

    UCI has established an Investigations Workgroup to ensure coordination and proper reporting of investigations. The LDO will chair the Workgroup. Membership includes the Director, Internal Audit; Director, Internal Controls; Chief Campus Counsel; Campus Counsel; Chief Health Sciences Counsel; Associate Vice Chancellor, Research; Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources; Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Personnel; Medical Center Chief Operating Officer; Associate Corporate Compliance Officer, Health Affairs; Chief of Police; Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. In addition, specialized expertise may be required on an ad hoc basis for investigation of certain matters.

    The Workgroup is responsible for ensuring that:


  3. Retaliation Complaint Officers ("RCO's")

    Under the direction of the LDO, designated Retaliation Complaint Officers ensure that a competent investigation is conducted on any allegation of Retaliation.  The RCO copies the LDO on all correspondence received or sent by the RCO.

    The RCO works with the LDO to ensure that:

    The RCO presents findings of fact to the Chancellor within 120 days of receiving an assignment to investigate a claim of Retaliation, unless an extension is granted by the LDO. 

    UCI's Designated RCOs
    For
    Director of Labor Relations, Employee Relations and Compensation Campus staff employees
    Executive Director, Human Resources and Customer Service Medical Center staff employees
    Vice Provost for Academic Personnel Academic employees, including faculty
    Dean of Students Undergraduate students
    Dean, Graduate Division Graduate students

  4. Managers

    Managers shall report any allegations of IGA to the LDO in writing, whether reported as protected disclosures by their subordinates or discovered in the course of performing their duties. A manager should record his or her own allegations of IGA in writing and should accurately transcribe and deliver any oral allegation of IGA received by the manager, or deliver to the LDO any written allegations.  If managers are not certain that an issue reported or discovered is appropriate for referral or reporting, they should consult with the LDO to make that determination. 

  5. Employees

    All employees of the University have a duty to cooperate with investigations initiated under the Whistleblower Policy and the Whistleblower Protection Policy and to refrain from retaliation against or interference with a Whistleblower.   


Reporting Improper Governmental Activities

D. Reporting Improper Governmental Activities

Each individual has the obligations set forth below.

  1. Whistleblower

    Reports suspected IGA to his or her immediate supervisor, other appropriate administrator or supervisor, the LDO, the UCOP Whistleblower Hotline (anonymously or not) (800.403.4744) or to the State Auditor (800.942.5665). 

    Contacts any of the following offices for information on the policy and procedure for reporting suspected wrongdoing, or on how to complete the UCI Report of Improper Governmental Activity Form:

    Contact
    For
    LDO Faculty, staff, students, general public
    Internal Audit Faculty, staff, students, general public
    Academic Personnel Academic appointees, including non-Senate appointees
    Dean, Graduate Division Academic student employees
    Campus Human Resources Campus staff employees and students in the course and scope of their staff appointments
    Medical Center Human Resources Medical Center staff employees and students in the course and scope of their staff appointments
  2. Whistleblower's supervisor or other campus official receiving a UCI Report of Improper Governmental Activity
  3. Files a completed UCI Report of Improper Governmental Activity Form with the LDO.  If the Chancellor, LDO, or LDO's supervisor is alleged to have engaged in improper activity, the report is filed with the Systemwide LDO, with a copy to the Director of Investigations and the Senior Vice President/Chief Compliance and Audit Officer of the Regents, in the Office of the President.

    Internal communications regarding allegations of IGA should normally be in writing.

  4. LDO
    1. Consultation
    2. Within 60 calendar days from receipt of a Report of Improper Governmental Activity, the LDO consults with the Investigations Workgroup, as appropriate, to determine whether the charges, if true, constitute IGA and the Report therefore warrants an investigation.  The LDO may request additional information from the Whistleblower to make certain the Report:

      If the Report alleges misconduct in research, the LDO refers the Report to the Vice Chancellor, Research for processing in accordance with Policy on Integrity in Research.

      If an investigation is not warranted, and if the identity of the Whistleblower is known, the LDO informs the Whistleblower in writing that no investigation will be conducted.

    3. Investigation
    4. If the LDO determines that an investigation is warranted, the LDO assigns the investigation to (an) appropriate University official(s) to investigate the Report and forwards all information, including the Report of Improper Governmental Activity, to the investigator(s).

      Investigators may include, but are not limited to, the following officials or their designees:

      The LDO maintains a panel of qualified investigators by regularly holding training sessions and encouraging appropriate employees to attend.

    5. Conclusion and Recordkeeping

      If the investigator's report concludes that no improper governmental activity occurred, the LDO:

      1. Closes the investigation.

      2. Informs the Whistleblower, if the Whistleblower’s identity or contact information is known.

      3. Retains the records of the investigation in conformance with UC Business and Finance Bulletins RMP-1 (University Records Management Program) and RMP-2 (Records Retention and Disposition). The records of the investigation include at least: the Whistleblower’s report, the LDO’s Intake Form, and the Investigation Report.

      If the investigator's report concludes that improper governmental activity by an employee occurred, the LDO:

      1. Sends the report to the employee's department head with a request that appropriate action be taken in accordance with relevant personnel policies or collective bargaining agreements.

      2. Sends a copy of the investigator’s report to the appropriate campus officials:
      3. Send report to
        For
        Executive Vice Chancellor Academic employees
        Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources Campus staff employees
        Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Medical Center staff employees
        Dean, Graduate Division Academic student employees

      4. If the identity of the Whistleblower is known, the LDO informs the Whistleblower of the completion and result of the investigation, unless there exists an overriding legal or public interest reason not to do so.

  5. Investigator (WP § VI.D.)
  6. Attends training session(s) to learn how to conduct investigations and prepare reports.

    When authorized by the LDO, conducts an investigation in accordance with applicable procedures.

    At the conclusion of an investigation, provides a written report of findings to the LDO.  The report will include the following:


  7. Investigation Subjects (WP § VI.C.)
  8. An investigation subject is any person who is the focus of investigative fact finding.

    Subjects must cooperate with the investigator.

    Subjects may consult with a person, or persons, of their choice and may retain their own counsel to represent them with regard to the investigation.  As provided in the UC Whistleblower Policy, subjects may consult with the Office of General Counsel; requests should be directed to that office.

    Subjects also may request that the University pay or reimburse their attorney fees.  Such requests must be submitted in writing to the LDO.  The UC Whistleblower Policy does not create an entitlement to such payments or reimbursements.


Reporting Retaliation

E. Reporting Retaliation
  1. Retaliation reports may be made in one of three ways:

    1. By submitting a complaint of Retaliation to the LDO (see F);
    2. By filing a grievance or other formal dispute resolution process and including a written statement, signed under penalty of perjury, of Retaliation (see G); or
    3. By submitting a complaint of Retaliation to the LDO and separately filing a grievance or other formal dispute resolution process (see H).

  2. In order for a complaint to be considered a Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint within the meaning of the California Whistleblower Protection Act and the UC Whistleblower Protection Policy, any claim of Retaliation must, among other things, be made in writing and must be accompanied by a sworn statement made under penalty of perjury.  The UCI Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint Form should be used in most instances.  The LDO will process all claims of Retaliation against a Whistleblower whether made under oath or not.
  3. If a claim of Retaliation names the Chancellor, the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost or LDO as the Respondent, the LDO will transfer the matter to the Executive Vice President – Business Operations or the Provost and Executive Vice President – Academic Affairs, in accordance with WPP § § VI.F and VIII.D.

F. Submitting  a Complaint of Retaliation to the LDO

A complainant may submit a Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint provided the complaint is filed within 12 months of the alleged act of Retaliation, or within 12 months of the most recent alleged act or threat of Retaliation, if the complaint alleges a pattern of Retaliation, and concerns an act of Retaliation as defined by University policy.

Each individual has the obligations set forth below.

  1. Complainant
  2. Submits complaint to LDO on the UCI Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint Form or in writing, under penalty of perjury, substantially in the form of the UCI Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint Form.

    The complainant may appeal a campus decision only when the complaint was determined ineligible because it was untimely filed and/or the complaint did not qualify for review under the scope of University policy.  Appeals may be filed with:

    1. Executive Vice President - Business Operations (complainant is a current employee in, or applicant for, a staff or management position); or
    2. Provost and Executive Vice President - Academic Affairs (complainant is a current appointee in, or applicant for, an academic position).

  3. LDO
  4. If a Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint is submitted other than in writing and under penalty of perjury, informs the complainant that his or her complaint should be submitted on the UCI Whistleblower Retaliation Form or in writing under penalty of perjury.

    Reviews the complaint to determine if it sufficiently meets the criteria to warrant an investigation as a Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint:

    May require the complainant to amend the complaint within 15 days to provide sufficient detail (WPP § IV.D).  If the complainant does not amend the complaint within 15 days, may dismiss the complaint (WPP §  IV.D.1).

    Informs the complainant that he or she may also have the right to file a grievance or other formal dispute resolution process.

    Once the complaint is accepted, assigns it to an RCO for handling and investigation to be completed within 120 days and so informs the complainant.

    May grant extensions of the 120 day deadline if the request is made in writing at least 7 days before the deadline and there is cause. The extension is granted in writing.

  5. RCO or Designated Independent Fact-Finder
  6. As warranted, conducts a fact-finding investigation, which may include but is not limited to:

    Before findings are reached, provides the Respondent (one accused of the Retaliation) with a copy of the complaint and with copies of all documents on which the findings rely.

    Gives the Respondent an opportunity to file a written response to the complaint within 15 calendar days, unless an extension of time had been granted by the LDO, and includes the response in the fact-finding record.

    Reports results of the fact-finding investigation to the Chancellor, with a copy to appropriate campus officials.

    The report includes sufficient findings of fact based on the evidence and factual conclusions for the Chancellor to determine whether Retaliation occurred, as well as factual findings concerning the burden of proof, as set forth in WPP §§ V.A-B and VII.

    The report is submitted within 120 days from the date on which the LDO assigned the complaint to the RCO or designated independent fact-finder, unless an extension of time has been granted by the LDO.

    If the complaint alleges that the Chancellor interfered with or took the retaliatory action, reports the findings to the President, who will take the actions described for the Chancellor below.

  7. Chancellor
  8. Decides whether Retaliation occurred based on findings and communicates the decision to the complainant, to the Respondent, and to relevant University administrators.

    As appropriate, the decision may include relief for the complainant. 

    Refers the initiation of any disciplinary action against a University employee to the department head or appropriate administrator.

  9. Department Head
  10. Determines the appropriate disciplinary action, if any, to be initiated against a University employee found to have interfered or retaliated against a complainant.

    For a member of the staff, disciplinary actions are taken after consultation with the Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources or the Medical Center Executive Director, Human Resources and Customer Service, and in accordance with personnel policies and collective bargaining agreements.

    For an academic employee, disciplinary proceedings are in accordance with procedures established in the Academic Personnel Manual.


G. Filing a Grievance or Other Formal Dispute Resolution Process and Including a Written Statement, Signed under Penalty of Perjury, of Retaliation

Certain claims of Retaliation by employees can be included in a grievance or other formal dispute resolution process. 

If an employee chooses to include his or her Retaliation claim in a grievance or other formal dispute resolution process, in order for the complaint to be considered a Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint within the meaning of the California Whistleblower Protection Act and the UC Whistleblower Protection Policy, it must be submitted in writing and under penalty of perjury.  The “Declaration” section of the UCI Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint Form provides acceptable language.

When a claim of Retaliation is being considered under either the Personnel Policies for UC Staff Members, the Academic Personnel Manual or an MOU, the Retaliation claim should be evaluated as part of the dispute resolution proceeding to the extent permitted by the personnel policy or MOU.

Each individual has the obligations set forth below.

  1. Complainant
  2. Contacts any of the following offices for information regarding procedures and deadlines for filing complaints:

    Contact
    For
    Academic Personnel Office Academic appointees including non Senate appointees and applicants for academic positions
    Dean, Graduate Studies Academic student employees
    Medical Center Human Resources Office Medical Center staff employees and applicants
    Human Resources Campus staff employees, applicants, and students acting in the course and scope of their staff appointments

    Files written grievance, request for administrative review, or other statement of charges, including a claim of Retaliation made under penalty of perjury, with a Designated Campus Official appropriate to the complainant’s status:

    Designated Campus Official
    For
    Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources Campus staff employees
    Medical Center Executive Director, Human Resources and Customer Service Medical Center staff employees
    Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Personnel Academic personnel

  3. Designated Campus Official (also called “grievance liaison” in WPP § IV.A)
  4. Determines whether the complaint can be accepted under the applicable procedure and ensures that all applicable procedures and time limits are followed. 

    Provides a copy of the complaint alleging Retaliation to the LDO (WPP § IV.A).

    If the claim of Retaliation cannot be accepted, advises the complainant to contact the LDO about filing a separate Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint.

    If the complainant also has submitted a separate Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint, the Designated Campus Official will either:

    1. Send a copy of the original complaint and final decision in the matter (whether by staff officer, hearing officer or arbitrator) to the LDO and the designated RCO; or
    2. Inform the LDO and RCO of the reasons why the claim of Retaliation was not evaluated in the personnel proceedings.

  5. LDO
  6. After receiving a copy of a complaint that includes an allegation of Retaliation, informs the complainant of his or her right to file a separate Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint and the timeframe for doing so (WPP § IV.A).

  7. RCO
  8. Informs the arbitrator, hearing officer or committee hearing the grievance or other formal dispute resolution process of the applicable evidentiary standards and asks that they be applied (WPP § V).

    Obtains a copy of the decision in those cases in which the complaint was heard before an arbitrator, hearing officer or committee (WPP § VII.A).

    If the decision does not include findings regarding the alleged Retaliation, requests that the arbitrator, hearing officer or committee revise the decision within 15 days to do so.

    If the arbitrator, hearing officer or committee does not respond to the request, conducts (or designates someone to conduct) an investigation within 120 days.

    If the decision does include findings regarding the alleged Retaliation, forwards the decision to the Chancellor, with a copy to the LDO, within 15 days.

  9. Chancellor
  10. Reviews hearing decisions and communicates the decision to the complainant, to the Respondent and to relevant University administrators.

    As appropriate, the decision may include relief for the complainant. 

    Refers the initiation of any disciplinary action against a University employee to the department head or appropriate administrator.

  11. Department Head
  12. Determines the appropriate disciplinary action, if any, to be initiated against a University employee found to have interfered or retaliated against a complainant.

    For a member of the staff, disciplinary actions are taken after consultation with the Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources or the Medical Center Executive Director, Human Resources and Customer Service, and in accordance with personnel policies and collective bargaining agreements.

    For an academic employee, disciplinary proceedings are in accordance with procedures established in the Academic Personnel Manual.


H. Submitting a Complaint of Retaliation to the LDO and Separately Filing a Grievance or Other Formal Dispute Resolution Process

The complainant may file a grievance or other formal dispute resolution process that includes a claim of Retaliation and a separate Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint. 

When the complainant elects to file a grievance or other formal dispute resolution process and a separate Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint, the grievance or other formal dispute resolution process proceeds according to G.; the Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint proceeds according to F., following the completion of the grievance or other formal dispute resolution process; and each individual has the additional obligations set forth below.

  1. LDO
  2. Informs the complainant that the Retaliation complaint will be held in abeyance until all of the steps preceding a formal hearing, arbitration or fact finding have been completed  (WPP § IV.B.1).

    Informs the arbitrator or hearing officer hearing the grievance or other formal dispute resolution process of the applicable evidentiary standards and asks that they be applied  (WPP § V).

    Informs the complainant when the Retaliation complaint is removed from abeyance and forwarded to the RCO.

  3. RCO
  4. If the complaint is filed under a complaint resolution procedure containing fact finding as specified in University policies as part of the final available step (e.g. Staff Policies 70, 71 and II-70  for some issues), serves as the fact finder.



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