UCLA Procedure 620.1 : Whistleblower Retaliation Complaints
I. PURPOSE & SCOPE
This Procedure sets out the process for submitting a whistleblower retaliation complaint and for determining whether a complaint that has been submitted qualifies to be investigated under the standards of the University’s Whistleblower Protection Policy (WPP). A whistleblower retaliation complaint may be filed by a UCLA employee, former employee, or applicant for employment as outlined in this Procedure. A complaint form with filing instructions is provided as Attachment A.
The following definitions from the Whistleblower Protection Policy are applicable to this Procedure:
Adverse Personnel Action is a management action that affects an individual’s existing terms and conditions of employment in a material and negative way, including, but not limited to, failure to hire, corrective action (including written warning, corrective salary decrease, demotion, suspension) and termination.
Illegal Order is a directive to violate or assist in violating a federal, State, or local law, rule, or regulation or an order to work or cause others to work in conditions outside of their line of duty that would unreasonably threaten the health or safety of employees or the public.
Improper Governmental Activity is any activity undertaken by the University or by a University employee that is undertaken in the performance of the employee’s duties, whether or not that activity is within the scope of his or her employment, and that (1) is in violation of any State or federal law or regulation, including, but not limited to, corruption, malfeasance, bribery, theft of government property (including University property and facilities), fraudulent claims, fraud, coercion, conversion, malicious prosecution, misuse of government property (including University property and facilities), or willful omission to perform duty, or (2) is economically wasteful or involves gross misconduct, gross incompetence, or gross inefficiency.
Locally Designated Official (LDO) is the UCLA-designated official responsible for receiving whistleblower retaliation complaints and determining whether a complaint is eligible for processing under the University’s Whistleblower Protection Policy.
Protected Disclosure is a good faith communication, including a communication based on, or when carrying out, job duties, that discloses or demonstrates an intention to disclose information that may evidence either (1) an Improper Governmental Activity or (2) a condition that may significantly threaten the health or safety of employees or the public if the disclosure or intention to disclose was made for the purpose of remedying that condition.
III. GENERAL POLICY
A UCLA employee, former employee, or applicant for employment who believes that he/she has been subjected to an Adverse Employment Action in retaliation for having made a Protected Disclosure or for having refused to obey an Illegal Order, may file a whistleblower retaliation complaint as outlined in this Procedure. Such a complaint must be filed with the Locally Designated Official (LDO) within twelve (12) months of the alleged retaliation. The Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint Form with instructions is provided as Attachment A.
Not all complaints of “retaliation” qualify as “whistleblower retaliation.” The LDO determines whether a complaint qualifies to be investigated under the standards set out in the WPP. A claim that does not qualify under the WPP may qualify under an applicable employee personnel policy or collective bargaining agreement grievance process. An employee should contact his/her employment representative for more information about the employee’s grievance or complaint options and the applicable filing deadlines.
IV. WHISTLEBLOWER RETALIATION COMPLAINT STANDARDS
For your claim to qualify as “whistleblower retaliation,” your complaint statement must set forth the facts that constitute your claim for each of the following:
1. Protected Activity. 1) Describe each Protected Disclosure you made, to whom each disclosure was made, the date or approximate date of each disclosure, and how each disclosure was communicated, for example written report, hotline call, etc. Or 2) Describe each Illegal Order you refused to obey, who ordered you to do what, the date or approximate date each order was given, your response to each order, and date or approximate date of your refusal to obey each order.
2. Adverse Personnel Action. Describe each Adverse Personnel Action that you believe was a result of your protected activity. Your statement must specify when you were given notice or otherwise became aware of each Adverse Personnel Action and must identify the person responsible for taking each action.
3. Contributing Factor Basis. Describe the facts that support your belief that your protected activity was a contributing factor in the decision to take each Adverse Personnel Action.
For additional guidance, refer to Attachment B, Standards for Accepting and Evaluating a Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint and Attachment C, Frequently Asked Questions.
V. FILING A WHISTLEBLOWER RETALIATION COMPLAINT
A. Submission Requirements
Your complaint must satisfy the following submission requirements:
1. Written. your complaint must be in writing. A complaint may not be phoned in or submitted through the University’s whistleblower hotline. The Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint instructions and complaint form are provided as Attachment A.
2. Required Elements. Your complaint statement must set forth the required elements in sufficient detail for the LDO to determine whether your complaint meets the WPP’s standards for acceptance, as outlined in Section IV. of this Procedure. You should use the complaint form appearing as Attachment A to this procedure and may attach such additional sheets as may be needed to complete your complaint statement. Alternatively, if you submit a separate narrative complaint statement, the statement must include all the information called for in the form, setting forth in separately labeled sections the Adverse Personnel Action(s) you experienced, the name of the Respondent(s) responsible for carrying out the Adverse Personnel Action, the Protected Activity in which you engaged, and the reason you believe your Protected Activity contributed to the Adverse Personnel Action(s).
You need not provide all the details of what transpired or any documentary evidence in support of your claim. If your complaint qualifies for review, then you will have an opportunity during the investigation process to identify potential witnesses and present additional information/evidence.
3. Sworn. Your complaint must conclude with the following declaration or substantially similar words and be signed and dated by you:
“I swear under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the facts set forth in my Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint and in any supporting documents I have submitted with the complaint are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.”
4. Timely. Your complaint must be filed within (12) twelve months of when you were notified or otherwise became aware of the Adverse Personnel Action you alleged to be retaliatory. If you allege an ongoing pattern of retaliation, your complaint must be filed within twelve (12) months of the most recent Adverse Personnel Action.
B. Filing Instructions
The timeliness of complaints that are mailed is determined by the US Postal Service postmark date. For complaints that are personally delivered or sent via campus mail (Mail Code 136648), email, or fax (use fax number 310-794-8536), the timeliness is determined by the date the complaint is received in the office of the LDO. If you file your complaint with your supervisor, the supervisor will be responsible for forwarding it to the office of the LDO.
For US Postal Service delivery, complaints should be addressed to:
UCLA Administrative Policies & Compliance Office
Attn: Locally Designated Official
Box 951366, Wilshire Center 700
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1366
Alternatively, complaints should be addressed as follows and delivered during University business hours to:
UCLA Administrative Policies & Compliance Office
Attn: Locally Designated Official
Wilshire Center, Suite 700
10920 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
For an email submission, you must print, sign, and scan the three-page complaint form as a PDF, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
C. Optional Representative
You have the option to designate an individual to represent you in the complaint process. Your representative should be someone who understands or will learn about the complaint process. Your representative may be a union representative or an attorney but may not be someone who is involved in the complaint in any way or who may be a potential witness in the proceeding. For this reason you should avoid designating someone from your University department to function as your representative.
You may identify your representative on the complaint form or at a later time. You should indicate if you want further communications about your complaint directed to that individual instead of to you. If you ever decide to change your representation, you should promptly notify the LDO in writing.
VI. PRELIMINARY REVIEW
Once your complaint is filed, the LDO will review your complaint to determine whether it qualifies for investigation under the standards of the WPP. The LDO will notify you in writing if your whistleblower retaliation complaint is accepted, accepted in part, or not accepted at all.
The acceptance of your complaint means that the allegations are sufficiently clear and meet the WPP standards for acceptance. Acceptance of a complaint does not mean that any facts alleged in the complaint have been established as true. Reaching conclusions concerning the facts of a complaint is the responsibility of the designated factfinder.
If the allegations of your complaint are not sufficiently clear, the LDO may require that you clarify your complaint before the LDO decides whether or not the complaint can be accepted. If you are notified of the opportunity to clarify your complaint, you will have fifteen (15) calendar days from the LDO’s notification to clarify your complaint.
If the LDO notifies you that your complaint does not qualify to be considered under the Whistleblower Protection Policy complaint standards or that your complaint was not filed within the twelve (12) month deadline, you have the right to appeal that decision to the Systemwide LDO at the UC Office of the President within thirty (30) days of the notification.
VII. INVESTIGATION AND FINAL DECISION
If your complaint is accepted, a Retaliation Complaint Officer or other individual designated by the LDO to serve as factfinder will investigate your claim of whistleblower retaliation. Typically, the factfinder interviews you, the named respondent(s) to the complaint (the parties), and relevant witnesses identified by the parties. The factfinder requests that each of the parties submit documents containing information relevant to the complaint. The factfinder is responsible for determining the relevance of evidence offered by the parties and may choose to exclude certain witness testimony or documents. If at any time during the factfinding process you decide to withdraw your complaint, you are expected to notify the LDO of your decision in writing.
Once all the necessary evidence has been considered, the factfinder delivers his/her investigation report with findings and conclusions to the LDO. The LDO reviews the report to confirm that the factfinder properly applied the WPP evidentiary standards (see Attachment B). Assuming the standards have been properly applied, the LDO refers the report to the Chancellor or other official with the delegated authority to review the complaint matter and render a final decision on the complaint. If your claim of whistleblower retaliation is substantiated, it is the responsibility of the final decision-maker to determine an appropriate remedy for the complainant and the appropriate action(s) to be taken against any employee who engaged in retaliation.
Upon acceptance of your complaint by the LDO, copies of your complaint will be sent to the designated factfinder and to those accepted as the respondents to your complaint. Copies may also be sent to the human resources department and other University officials with a need to know.
Parties and witnesses involved in a complaint are expected to treat the pending investigation as a confidential matter. In particular, you and the other parties are expected to refrain from discussing the complaint with any potential witness in any way that may influence or be perceived as influencing the witness’ testimony. However, this admonition is not intended to prevent or discourage anyone from reporting suspected wrongdoing to a responsible University or other public official, or to prevent an employee from discussing bona fide workplace concerns with other employees or the employee’s representative.
A. A Supervisor who receives a written whistleblower retaliation complaint is responsible for documenting when the complaint was received and promptly forwarding it to the office of the LDO. Supervisors are encouraged to check with human resources officials about the retaliation complaint options available to employees.
B. The Locally Designated Official (LDO) is responsible for determining whether a retaliation complaint can be accepted under the standards set forth in the WPP. The LDO is responsible for designating a Retaliation Complaint Officer or other individual to serve as the factfinder to investigate a complaint that has been accepted. The LDO is responsible for ensuring that complaints are processed in a timely manner and in accordance with the WPP.
C. The Retaliation Complaint Officer (RCO)/Designated Factfinder is responsible for overseeing the investigation of an accepted whistleblower retaliation complaint. The RCO/factfinder is responsible for forwarding to the LDO within the appropriate time limit, a final report of his/her findings and conclusions, and for making a written request to the LDO for any time extension and reason for extension that may be needed.
D. The Final Decision-Maker is responsible for rendering a decision after reviewing the investigation report. When there is a finding of whistleblower retaliation, the final decision-maker determines remedy to the complainant and the appropriate action(s) to be taken against any employee who engaged in whistleblower retaliation. The Chancellor has authority to function as the final decision-maker and may delegate any of his/her duties to another UCLA official.
1. UC Whistleblower Protection Policy (5/1/2015).
/s/ Olsen, Steven
Acting Administrative Vice Chancellor