Questions for employees who are the subject of a whistleblower investigation

  1. What is the university's Whistleblower Policy?
  2. Who is a "whistleblower?"
  3. Who can blow the whistle?
  4. Why did the university develop this policy?
  5. What are "improper governmental activities" that can be investigated?
  6. If I've been accused of committing an improper governmental activity and an investigation will take place, will I have the opportunity to explain my actions?
  7. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, can I consult a lawyer?
  8. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, can I consult the Office of the General Counsel for advice?
  9. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, will I be informed of the outcome of the investigation?
  10. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, what happens if the allegations are sustained-will disciplinary action be taken against me?
  11. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, what happens if the allegations are not sustained?
  12. Does anything happen to the whistleblower if the allegations are not sustained?

1. What is the university's Whistleblower Policy?

UC's Whistleblower Policy (pdf) encourages employees to use the guidance provided in the policy to "blow the whistle" on "improper governmental activities," and provides a procedure for filing and addressing whistleblower complaints.

Back to top

2. Who is a "whistleblower"?

A whistleblower is someone who discloses or tries to disclose information that may show a violation of law, economic waste, gross misconduct, gross incompetence, or gross inefficiency.

Back to top

3. Who can blow the whistle?

Employees (academic and staff), applicants for employment, students, patients, vendors, contractors, and the general public can blow the whistle.

Back to top

4. Why did the university develop this policy?

As a public institution, the university has a responsibility to the public, the legislature, students, faculty, staff and donors to conduct its affairs ethically and in compliance with laws and regulations. Part of how UC demonstrates accountability for its conduct is having in place a mechanism for people to let the university know if they become aware of concerns about how UC business is conducted.

Back to top

5. What are "improper governmental activities" that can be investigated?

Actions that can be investigated include 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. (An "improper governmental activity" has to directly involve the university as either the victim of the improper activity or the perpetrator of the improper activity via the action of an employee.)

Back to top

6. If I've been accused of committing an improper governmental activity and an investigation will take place, will I have the opportunity to explain my actions?

Yes, but keep in mind that the decision to conduct an investigation is not an accusation — it is a neutral fact-finding process. You will be given opportunities for input during the investigation, and you will be given an opportunity to respond to material points of evidence to be used in the investigation report unless there are compelling reasons not to do so.

Back to top

7. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, can I consult a lawyer?

You have a right to consult with anyone you choose, including a lawyer. If you are an investigation subject, you may retain counsel and request that the university pay or reimburse the attorney's fees; however, this does not create an entitlement to attorney's fees.

Back to top

8. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, can I consult the Office of the General Counsel for advice?

Yes, you may consult the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) concerning the investigation. OGC will provide legal advice on issues in the investigation, unless it determines that a divergence of interest prevents it from doing so, keeping in mind that at all times OGC represents the interests of the university. If legal services are provided to you by OGC, remember that OGC represents the university and you may not use the attorney-client privilege to prevent disclosure to the university of any information obtained from you by the OGC attorney. The OGC attorney will advise you when it appears that a divergence of interest may require OGC to withdraw from providing legal services to you.

Back to top

9. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, will I be informed of the outcome of the investigation?

Yes, you have a right to be informed of the outcome of the investigation.

Back to top

10. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, what happens if the allegations are sustained-will disciplinary action be taken against me?

Any disciplinary action will be determined by management and will be administered in accordance with the applicable academic or staff conduct and disciplinary procedures.

Back to top

11. If I am the subject of a whistleblower investigation, what happens if the allegations are not sustained?

If the allegations are not sustained, you may be consulted as to whether public disclosure of the investigation results would be in the university's and your best interests.

Back to top

12. Does anything happen to the whistleblower if the allegations are not sustained?

If the whistleblower had a reasonable belief that an improper governmental activity had occurred and made a good faith report that disclosed or demonstrated an intention to report the activity, it is a "protected disclosure" under the policy. While the motivation of the whistleblower is irrelevant to the consideration of the validity of the allegations, the intentional filing of a false report is itself considered an improper governmental activity which the university has the right to act upon.

Back to top