Protection from Retaliation for Suspected Misconduct Reporting (Whistleblower)

Handbook of Operating Procedures 3-1022

Protection from Retaliation for Suspected Misconduct Reporting (Whistleblower)

University of Texas SealEffective September 30, 2015
Executive Sponsor: Vice President for Diversity and Community EngagementPolicy Owner: Associate Vice President, Diversity and Community Engagement
I. Policy Statement 

The University of Texas at Austin (“University”) is committed to the ethical stewardship of University resources in compliance with laws and the rules, policies, and procedures of The University of Texas System ("UT System") and the University. To this end, it is the policy of the University to:

  • foster a University environment that promotes employees, students, and other University community members to report suspected misconduct of a material nature taking place at the University.
  • prohibit retribution or retaliation against any individual who, in good faith, reports such concerns or participates in an investigation pertaining to these reports.

Links to University policies related to misconduct in research and academic misconduct may be found in Sec. X below.

II. Reason for Policy 

To set forth responsibilities and steps for good faith reporting of material violations of law or University policies in the employment setting and to aid in the protection of individuals from retaliation for such reporting.

III. Scope & Audience 

This policy applies to reports of misconduct in the employment setting and applies to University employees, students, affiliates, and visitors.

IV. Definitions (specific to this policy) 
Misconduct:

An individual’s action that is unlawful or unethical including but not limited to: illegal or fraudulent activity; financial misstatements, accounting or auditing irregularities; conflicts of interest or commitment; violation of laws, regulations, rules, or policies. Examples of misconduct may be found in the Office for Inclusion and Equity's Procedure and Practice Guide.

Retaliation:

Any action that adversely affects the employment or institutional status of an individual who, in good faith, advances a report of misconduct to University officials or participates in an investigation of such report.

University Community Member:

Refers to any University employee, student, affiliate, or an individual external to the University who conducts business with the University.

University Policy:

This collectively refers to The University of Texas System ("UT System")  Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations, UT System policies, as well as the University’s own policies.

Whistleblower:

An individual who raises a concern about suspected violation of law or University policy.

V. Website (for policy) 
https://policies.utexas.edu/policies/hop/3-1022
VI. Contacts 
Contact Details Web
Office for Inclusion and EquityPhone:512-471-1849Website:Email:equity@austin.utexas.edu
University Compliance Services Hotline Phone:1-877-507-7321Website:Email:hotline@compliance.utexas.edu
VII. Responsibilities & Procedures 
  1. General Overview
  1. The University expects its employees to perform their duties and responsibilities in accordance with applicable laws and to follow University policies and procedures.
  1. The University provides mechanisms to assist individuals in coming forward to report misconduct without fear of reprisal or retaliation.
  1. Any individual who retaliates against a University employee or student because of a good faith report of actual or suspected misconduct is subject to disciplinary action by the University, up to and including dismissal.
  1. The Procedure and Practice Guide provides information regarding reporting avenues, individual and supervisory responsibilities, and other details clarifying the implementation of this policy.
  1. Whistleblower Reporting
  1. A University community member who in good faith suspects or has knowledge of a material violation of law or University policy has a professional obligation and is expected to report suspected violations. A University community member who reports in good faith actual or suspected violations of law or University policy will be protected from retaliation.
  1. Reports may cover suspected or actual misconduct, regardless of whether the individual is personally involved in the matter.
  1. The individual should make such report as soon as reasonably possible, preferably within ninety (90) days from the time he or she becomes aware of the suspected misconduct.
  1. An individual may amend his or her report upon learning of new information relevant to the report.
  1. Reporting guidelines specific to a particular issue may be found in the Procedure and Practice Guide. Reports to the University, however, may be directed through any of these channels:
  1. employee’s supervisor/manager, dean/director, or Human Resources contact
  1. the Office for Inclusion and Equity via
    • (512) 471-1849
  1. University Compliance Services Hotline (available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year) via
    • 1-877-507-7321 or

The supervisor/manager, dean, director, or other University official receiving such report must assure the report is further brought to the attention of the University designee handling such reports. Refer to the Procedure and Practice Guide.

 

  1. Reports made through the University Compliance Services Hotline may be submitted anonymously and will be routed to appropriate University officials for investigation.
  1. Reports made in accordance with this policy may not be construed as having made a report to a law enforcement authority.
  1. Processing of such report will follow procedural steps outlined in the Procedure and Practice Guide.
  1. An individual who has a question about the propriety of any practice under University policies should seek guidance from his or her supervisor/manager or the University official who has responsibility for overseeing compliance with the particular policy. 
  1. Examples of violations of University policies and illegal behavior may be found in the Procedure and Practice Guide.
  1. The individual who suspects a violation has occurred should not accuse or confront the individual directly or attempt to investigate the matter personally.
  1. Retaliation Reporting
  1. An employee who comes forward in good faith to report actual or suspected misconduct in violation of federal or state law or regulations or University policy will not be subject to retaliation, reprisal, or disciplinary action by the University. This protection does not extend to self-reported violations.
  1. An employee or other University community member must not take any disciplinary or retaliatory action against any individual for good faith reporting, or causing to be reported suspected misconduct, or for assisting in an authorized investigation associated with the report.
  1. Any employee or other University community member who believes he or she is experiencing retaliatory action by another individual as a result of any of the following activities is strongly encouraged to report this to the Office for Inclusion and Equity at http://www.utexas.edu/equity or by calling 512-471-1849:
  • Good faith reporting of misconduct of another individual reported to a person designated by the University to receive such disclosure.
  • Participation in an investigation involving misconduct of another person.
  • Filing a complaint alleging prohibited discrimination or harassment with the Office for Inclusion and Equity.
  1. Procedures for filing a complaint may be found in the Practice and Procedure Guide.
  1. Further resources and information for addressing concerns of retaliation in the workplace or academic environment may be obtained by contacting the Office for Inclusion and Equity or visiting its website.
  1. False Information

Related to this policy, an employee will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, for any of these actions:

  • making a false report of retaliation, actual misconduct, or suspected misconduct.
  • knowingly providing false answers or information in response to an ongoing investigation.
XI. History 

Last review date: September 30, 2015

    Editorial changes made February 18, 2016


Next scheduled review date: October 2017