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Seneca County may adopt whistleblower protection policy

Seneca County employees who report concerns about improper governmental action as “whistleblowers” are protected from retaliation by federal and state laws.

Now the county may add more protection with its own whistleblower policy.

The Board of Supervisors Human Resources & Government Operations Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the new policy and move it to the full board for a final vote April 9. If approved then, it would be added to the county’s policy manual.

The policy is intended to support the reporting of illegal activities and to protect from retaliation employees who, in good faith, have reported a concern about improper governmental action. If the activities are not illegal but violate the county’s code of ethics, an employee may report the violation as set forth in the new policy.

Here are the key elements of the new policy:

DUTY TO REPORT: Any employee of the county who becomes aware of improper governmental action by an officer or employee of the county has a duty to report such conduct.

NO RETALIATION: No county officer or employee shall take retaliatory action against an employee because the employee makes a good faith report of information regarding fraud, waste, abuse, misconduct or any alleged prohibited or illegal activity in violation of any law, rule, policy or regulation governing officers and employees of the county.

Such retaliatory actions include, but are not limited to, discharge, discipline, personal attacks, harassment, intimidation or change in jobs, salary or responsibilities.

CONFIDENTIALITY: Reports of concerns will be kept confidential to the extent possible to allow a complete and fair investigation.

PROCEDURE: The employee with concerns should make the good faith effort to his or her immediate supervisor. If the employee is not comfortable addressing the concern with that person or the employee is not satisfied with the immediate supervisor’s response, the employee should report to the department head.

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