The University encourages employees who have good-faith concerns regarding wrongful conduct to report those concerns. Wrongful conduct can include violations of University policies, law, regulations, or rules. This policy protects any employee who engages in good faith reporting of alleged wrongful conduct.
Raising such concerns is a service to the University and will not jeopardize an individual’s employment. Please note, however, that employees who report wrongful conduct in which he or she is involved are not afforded protection by this policy.
This policy informs employees how allegations of wrongful conduct can be reported and protects employees from retaliation as a direct result of reporting a concern or participating in any investigation, hearing or inquiry into wrongful conduct. This policy also provides individuals who believe they have been subject to retaliation with a process to investigate and appropriately handle retaliatory acts. Nothing in this policy is intended to interfere with legitimate employment actions or decisions.
Wrongful Conduct is defined as:
- A serious violation of University policy
- A violation of applicable state and federal laws, regulations and rules
- Gross misuse of University property, resources, or authority.
Supervisor is defined as:
- Any supervisor, director, chair, dean, department head, or other employee who has the authority to make or materially influence significant personnel decisions.
Retaliation is defined as:
- Reprimand, discharge, suspension, demotion or denial of promotion or transfer, or change in the terms and conditions of employment that occurs in retaliation for an employee's good faith disclosure of wrongful conduct of another University employee.
Protected Disclosure is defined as:
- Communication about actual or suspected wrongful conduct based on a good faith and reasonable belief that the conduct is occurring, or has occurred, and is wrongful under applicable law, regulation, rule, or University policy. These reports also include communications protected under other applicable law. Individuals who are aware of or have reason to suspect wrongful conduct should report the conduct to their supervisor, the designated University official, or an appropriate public body.
Employee Responsibility Regarding Wrongful Conduct and Behavior
The University has developed numerous policies and procedures for enforcing standards of conduct and behavior. Additionally, University employees are expected to abide by applicable state and federal laws. Furthermore, an employee cannot be compelled by a supervisor or University official to violate a University policy, an applicable law, or public policy.
In the interest of the University, an employee who has particular knowledge of specific acts which he or she in good faith believes constitute wrongful conduct should disclose the conduct to the appropriate supervisor and/or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access as described in the next section.
Reporting and Investigation
Where the University has defined policies and procedures for maintaining standards of conduct and disclosure of wrongful conduct, the applicable University policies should be followed to disclose, investigate, and resolve such violations.
Following applicable University policy, the administrator primarily responsible for investigating a report will work with other administrators to implement corrective actions which may include discipline of University employees.
Typically, concerns should be raised first at the "local" level i.e. within a college or unit. However, sometimes, because of the subject matter involved or because of work or personal relationships, concerns may be best raised first through the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. In matters relating to wrongful conduct as defined above, mismanagement of University resources, or an abuse of authority which is not covered by specific University policy, the Office of University Ethics is designated to receive such reports and conduct or coordinate follow-up which may include an investigation of the reported information.
The Office of University Ethics maintains records of any reports. The Office University Ethics or a referring unit (for example, internal audit, university police, human resources) will follow-up on the matter which may include an investigation of the report, referral of the matter to another University department, or implementing corrective actions designed to prevent similar incidents.
Individuals who are subjects of a report will be treated fairly, respectfully, and consistent with all protections set out in University policy or law. Laws and University policies impose privacy and confidentiality restraints on reporting the results of such a review or investigation. Within the constraints of these laws and policies, the Office of University Ethics will notify the subject of the report of the nature of the allegations if it will not risk the integrity of the investigation, and, as appropriate and permissible by law and policy, provide confirmation of the status and outcome of the review.
In matters of disclosure, the University will make all reasonable efforts to respect the confidentiality of the employee making the disclosure as long as maintaining confidentiality does not interfere with conducting an investigation of the specific allegations, taking corrective action, or in circumstances when: 1) the person agrees to be identified; 2) identification is necessary to allow University or law enforcement officials to investigate or respond effectively to the report; 3) identification is required by law; or 4) the accused person(s) is entitled to the information in a disciplinary proceeding. Where findings are required to be reported to any outside agency or entity, findings will be timely reported.
Retaliation against whistleblowers is strictly prohibited and the Office of University Ethics will investigate all complaints of retaliation and report findings and recommendations concerning whether retaliation occurred, and if so, what the appropriate remedy or remedies might be. A protected disclosure report is not the same as a report of retaliation.
False Report or Allegation
Any employee who gives false information or makes a false report of wrongful conduct or a subsequent false report of retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Applicable legal basis: State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (Ethics Act), 5 ILCS 430/15-5 et. seq.