Chapter 2.28 - WHISTLEBLOWER RETALIATION PREVENTION PROGRAM

2.28.010 Purpose.

It is the policy of the district (1) to encourage reporting by its employees of improper governmental action taken by the district officers or employees and (2) to protect the district's employees who have reported improper governmental actions in accordance with the district policies and procedure(s). (Res. 511 §1 (part), 1992)

2.28.020 Definitions.

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

“District” means Birch Bay Water and Sewer District.

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

“Improper governmental action” means any action by a district officer or employee:

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

“Improper governmental action” does not include any personnel actions, such as 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 or reprimands.

“Retaliatory action” means any adverse change in the terms and conditions of a district employee's employment. (Res. 511 §1 (part), 1992)

2.28.030 Procedures for reporting.

  • A. District 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 district manager, or if the district manager is the employee's direct supervisor, then with the president of the board of commissioners of the district.
  • B. In the case of an emergency, where the employee reasonably 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.
  • C. The supervisor, or the president of the board of commissioners, as the case may be, shall take prompt action to assist the district in properly investigating the report of improper governmental action. District 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. District employees may report information about improper governmental action directly to the appropriate government agency with responsibility for investigating the improper action if such district employee reasonably believes that an adequate investigation was not undertaken by the district to determine whether an improper governmental action occurred, or that insufficient action has been taken by the district to address the improper governmental action or that for other reasons the improper governmental action is likely to recur.
  • E. District employees who fail to make a good-faith attempt to follow district procedures in reporting improper governmental action shall not receive the protections provided by the district in these procedures.

(Res. 511 §1 (part), 1992)

2.28.040 Protection against retaliatory actions.

  • A. District officials and employees are prohibited from taking retaliatory action against a district 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 the district manager or the president of the board of commissioners of the district. District officials and supervisors shall take appropriate action to investigate and address complaints of retaliation.
  • C. If the district manager or the president of the board of commissioners, as the case may be, do not satisfactorily resolve the employee's complaint that he or she has been retaliated against in violation of this chapter, the district employee may obtain protection under this chapter and pursuant to state law by providing a written notice to the District Board of Commissioners council that:
    • 1. Specifies the alleged retaliatory action; and
    • 2. Specifies the relief requested.
  • D. District employees shall provide a copy of their written charge to the district manager no later that thirty days after the occurrence of the alleged retaliatory action. The district shall respond within thirty days to the charge of retaliatory action.
  • E. After receiving either the response of the district or thirty days after the delivery of the charge to the district, whichever first occurs, the 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 district manager within the earlier of either fifteen days of delivery of the district's response to the charge of retaliatory action or forty-five days of delivery of the charge of retaliation to the district manager for response.
  • F. Upon receipt of request for hearing, the District shall apply within five working days of 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. Lacey, WA 98504-2488 (206) 459-6353

  • G. The district will consider any recommendation provided by the administrative law judge that the retaliator be suspended with or without pay, or dismissed.

(Res. 511 §1 (part), 1992)

2.28.050 Responsibilities of district officials.

The district manager is responsible for implementing the district's policies and procedures, (1) for reporting improper governmental action; and (2) for protecting employees against retaliatory actions. This includes ensuring that this policy and these procedures (1) are permanently posted where all employees will have reasonable access to them; (2) are made available to any employee upon request; and (3) 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 chapter may result in appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Copies of the resolution codified in this chapter may be obtained by any district employee from the district manager upon request. (Res. 511 §1 (part), 1992)

2.28.060 List of agencies.

Following is a list of agencies responsible for enforcing federal, state and local laws and investigating other issues involving improper governmental action. Employees having questions about these agencies or the procedures for reporting improper governmental action are encouraged to contact the district manager.

State of Washington

Whatcom County Prosecutor Whatcom County Courthouse Bellingham, WA 98225 (206) 676-6784

State Auditor's Office Legislative Building P.O. Box 40021 Olympia, WA 98504-0021 (206) 753-5280

State Department of Ecology 3190 160th S.E. Bellevue, WA 98008-5852 (206) 649-7000

Human Rights Commission 402 Evergreen Plaza Bldg., FJ-41 711 South Capitol Way Olympia, WA 98504-2490

State Department of Health Health Consumer Assistance P.O. Box 4789 Olympia, WA 98504-7891 800-525-0127

Department of Labor & Industries 300 West Harrison, Room 201 Seattle, WA (206) 281-5400

State Liquor Control Board Enforcement Office 2101 Sixth Avenue Seattle, WA (206) 464-6094

Puget Sound Water Quality Authority P.O. Box 40900 Olympia, WA 98504 (206) 493-9300

Department of Social and Health Services Special Investigation Office 5200 Southcenter Blvd., Suite 23 Tukwila, WA (206) 764-4048

United States

Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General 915 Second Avenue Seattle, WA Supervisor Auditor (206) 553-8290 Supervisor Special Agent Investigation (206) 553-8286

Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms Criminal Enforcement 915 Second Avenue Seattle, WA (206) 553-4485

U.S. Attorney 800 Fifth Avenue Seattle, WA (206) 553-7970

Department of Natural Resources P.O. Box 68 Enumclaw, WA 98022 (206) 825-1631

Consumer Product Safety Commission Hotline 800-638-2772

U.S. Customs Service Office of Enforcement 909 First Avenue Seattle, WA (206) 553-7531

U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General 915 Second Avenue Seattle, WA Audits–(206) 553-0657 Investigations–(206) 553-1482

Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation 1200 Sixth Avenue Seattle, WA (206) 553-8306

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 2815 Second, Suite 500 Seattle, WA (206) 553-0968

Federal Emergency Management Agency 130 228th Street S.W. Bothell, WA (206) 487-4600

Federal Trade Commission 915 Second Avenue Seattle, WA (206) 553-4656

General Services Administration 915 Second Avenue Seattle, WA

Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General

Office of Audits 915 Second Avenue Seattle, WA (206) 553-0801

Government Accounting Office– Fraud Hotline 800-424-5454

Department of Health & Human Services Food & Drug Administration 22201 23rd Drive S.E. Bothell, WA; Trade Complaints–(206) 483-4949

Office of the Regional Secretary General Counsel's Officee Inspector General Audits–(206) 553-0452 Investigations–(206) 553-0229

Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Counsel 1321 Second Avenue Seattle, WA (206) 553-4976 Office of Inspector General Audits–(206) 553-0270 Investigations–(206) 553-0272

Interstate Commerce Commission 915 Second Avenue, Room 1894 Seattle, WA 98174 (206) 553-5421

Department of Interior U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services Division of Law Enforcement 121 107th N.E. Bellevue, WA (206) 553-5543

Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration 220 West Mercer, Suite 300 Seattle, WA (206) 553-5443

Office of Inspector General Audits–(206) 931-7650 Investigations–(206) 931-7654 Law Enforcement–(206) 553-0290

Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health (OSHA) 1111 Third Avenue, Suite 715 Seattle, WA 98101-3212 (206) 553-5930

Office of Inspector General Audits 1111 Third Avenue, Suite 780 Seattle, WA 98101-3212 (206) 553-4880 Investigations 1111 Third Avenue, Suite 785 Seattle, WA 98101-3212

Office of Women's Bureau 1111 Third Avenue, Suite 885 Seattle, WA 98101-3212

National Transportation Safety Board 19518 Pacific Highway South Seattle, WA (206) 764-3782

Securities and Exchange Commission 915 Second Avenue Seattle, WA 98174 (206) 553-7990

Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General 915 Second Avenue Seattle, WA 98178 (206) 553-5720

Department of Treasury Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Law Enforcement Division 915 Second Avenue, Room 806 Seattle, WA 98174

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#759 12-16-2019

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