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California State University, Fullerton

Whistleblower Complaints and Retaliation

The California Whistleblower Protection Act authorizes whistleblowerthe California State Auditor to receive complaints from state employees and members of the public who wish to report an improper governmental activity. An "improper governmental activity" is defined as any action that violates the law, is economically wasteful, or involves gross misconduct, incompetency, or inefficiency.

The University President has appointed John Beisner, Director of University Risk Management, as the University's Whistleblower contact. Provided below is information on the CSU Executive Order 929 on Whistleblower Complaints and Whistleblower Retaliation Complaints.       

Whistleblower Complaints

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What is a Whistleblower Complaint?

A Whistleblower Complaint comes from a person who tells the public or someone in authority about alleged dishonest or illegal activities occurring in a government department, a public or private organization, or a company. Complaints may be made internally to the organization or externally to regulators or those higher in the organization. 

 

Types of reported activity

  • Improper acts by a state employee 
  • Theft, fraud, or conflicts of interest by state employees
  • Misuse or abuse, or anything that's wasteful of state property or employee time
  • Gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency by state employees

 

How do I file a Whistleblower Complaint?

An employee or applicant for employment may make a complaint to the Cal State Fullerton's Director of University Risk Manager or the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources(Chancellor's Office). The complaint must be in no later than thirty (30) days after the event giving rise to the complaint or no later than thirty (30) days after the employee or applicant for employment knew or reasonably should have known of the event.

 

CSU employees and qualified applicants for employment may file an EO 929 Form to the CSU's Vice Chancellor of Human Resources or to University Risk Management. You can contact John Beisner, Director of University Risk Management by phone (657) 278-4937 or email jbeisner@fullerton.edu  with any questions or concerns.

 

Any individual may also File a Complaint with the Bureau of State Audits by telephone at 1-800-952-5665 or by mail at Investigations, Bureau of State Audits, California State Auditor, 555 Capitol Mall, Suite 300, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Whistleblower Complaint Instructions

The Whistleblower Complaint shall be in writing. The complainant may use any format that conforms to the requirements of this section. The disclosure must include the following information:

  1. The name and mailing address of the complainant, the complainant's working title, or position applied for if the complainant was an applicant for employment.
  2. A detailed description of the specific actions that constituted the alleged improper governmental activity or condition that may significantly threaten the health and safety of employees or the public, including the names(s) and title(s) of the CSU employee(s) or official(s) allegedly engaged in the improper governmental activity or responsible for the health and safety condition.
  3. The date(s) the alleged improper activities occurred or the condition developed.
  4. Other potential witnesses to the alleged improper activities or condition.
  5. Any documentation that supports the allegations of improper activities or of a threatening condition.
  6. Descriptions of documents that support the allegations of improper activities or of a threatening condition, if the actual documents are not in the possession of the complainant.
  7. The protected disclosure must be signed, dated, and contain a sworn statement under penalty of perjury that its contents are believed to be true.

 

Your Legal Protection from Retaliation

State Law:

Protects your identity (except from law enforcement)

Helps guard against intimidation, threats, or coercion by state employees that could interfere with your right to disclose improper government activities

Helps keep you safe from reprisal, retaliation, threats, or coercion for reporting such information

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a "protected disclosure?"

CSU Executive Order 929, which sets forth procedures CSU employees or applicants for employment in the CSU may use to make a protected disclosure, defines a "protected disclosure" as "any good faith communication that discloses information that may evidence (1) an improper governmental activity or (2) any 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." California Government Code Section 8547.2(d) includes in its definition any good faith communication that "demonstrates an intention to disclose" an improper governmental activity or a significant health or safety condition.

What is an "improper governmental activity?"

CSU Executive Order 929 defines an "improper governmental activity" as "any activity by a CSU department or employee that is undertaken in the performance of the employee's official duties, whether or not that action 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, fraudulent claims, fraud, coercion, conversion, malicious prosecution, misuse of government property, or willful omission to perform duty, or (2) is economically wasteful, or involves gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency. This definition mirrors the definition found in California Government Code Section 8547.2(b).

What is a "whistleblower?"

A "whistleblower" is someone who makes a disclosure deemed to be "protected."

Who can be a "whistleblower?"

The procedures set forth in CSU Executive Order 929 to make a disclosure are available only to CSU employees or applicants for employment in the CSU who have completed the application process for a specific, available position. Any member of the general public may make a disclosure to the Bureau of State Audits.

Where can I make a protected disclosure?

You may make a disclosure to the: (1) CSU's Vice Chancellor of Human Resources,  ( 2) the University's Director of University Risk Management by telephone at (657) 278-4937 or by e-mail John Beisner jbeisner@fullerton.edu, or (3) Bureau of State Audits by telephone at 1-800-952-5665 or by mail at Investigations, Bureau of State Audits, 555 Capitol Mall, Suite 300, Sacramento, CA 95814

How do I choose where to make a protected disclosure?

You should report your disclosure to the office with whom you feel most comfortable. If you would like to make a disclosure without initially notifying anyone in the CSU, you must contact the Bureau of State Audits.

Will my disclosure be held in confidence?

If you make a disclosure either to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources or to the Director of University Risk Management under EO 929, care will be taken to keep your identity confidential in so far as is feasible and consistent with the law. The Bureau of State Audits may not disclose your identity without your written permission unless the disclosure is to a law enforcement agency conducting a criminal investigation.

May I make an anonymous disclosure?

Because EO 929 does not permit anonymous disclosures, you should contact the Bureau of State Audits if you wish to remain anonymous.

What are the required elements of a disclosure?

Under EO 929, the disclosure must contain:

  1. Your name and address, and position title or the position applied for.
  2. A detailed description of the specific actions that constituted the alleged improper governmental activity or condition that may significantly threaten the health or safety of employees or the public.
  3. The date(s) the alleged improper activities occurred or the condition developed.
  4. Names of any potential witnesses.
  5. Documentation, if available, to support the allegations of improper activities or threatening conditions.
  6. Descriptions of documents that may support the allegations.
  7. Your signature, the date you signed disclosure, and your sworn statement under penalty of perjury that the disclosure is true or believed to be true.

Any employee or applicant considering making a disclosure under EO 929 should review Section III of the Executive Order.

The requirements for filing a disclosure (called a "complaint") with the State Bureau of Audits may be found at: http://www.bsa.ca.gov/hotline/filecomp.php

Does my disclosure have to be in writing?

Under EO 929, disclosures to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources or to the University's Director of University Risk Management must be in writing. The Bureau of State Audits accepts verbal disclosures.

What is the deadline for making a disclosure?

Disclosures to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources or to the Director of University Risk Management under EO 929 must be made within thirty days after the event giving rise to the disclosure or within thirty days after the employee or the applicant for employment knew or reasonably should have known of the event. There is no specified time limit for making a disclosure to the Bureau of State Audits.

What happens after I make a disclosure?

Under EO 929, a preliminary review will likely be conducted to determine if the requirements for a protected disclosure have been met. In addition, you may be interviewed.

Who will investigate my disclosure?

If you make your disclosure to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, a representative from the Chancellor's Office or an individual hired by the Chancellor's Office will review your disclosure to determine if it is protected. If it is, and a determination is made that an investigation is warranted, a representative from the Chancellor's Office or an individual hired by the Chancellor's Office will investigate your allegations. If you make your disclosure to the Director of University Risk Management, a representative from the University or an individual hired by the University will review your disclosure to determine if it is protected. If it is, and a determination is made that an investigation is warranted, a representative from the University or an individual hired by the University will investigate your allegations.

Why might my disclosure not be considered protected?

Sometimes events are reported that on their face are not improper governmental activities or significant threats to health and safety, but are instead personnel, labor relations or management issues. Not all violations of CSU or University policies represent improper governmental activities. If a determination is made that your allegations do not qualify as a protected disclosure, those allegations may still be reviewed and/or investigated for compliance with other CSU or University policies and procedures.

How can I help the investigator?

Tell the truth. In addition, you can provide as much factual information and evidence as possible to allow the investigation to proceed. However, do not obtain any documents for which you do not have a right of access and do not conduct your own investigation. You should prepare yourself to be interviewed and to provide all information you know about the allegations you raised.

How long will the investigation take?

Every investigation is unique. For those disclosures made under EO 929, the objective is to conduct investigations in a timely manner.

Who determines if my disclosure is protected?

If you make a disclosure to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, the Vice Chancellor will determine if your allegations are protected. If you make a disclosure to the Director of University Risk Management, the University President or designee will determine if your allegations are protected.

Will I be informed of the outcome?

If you make a disclosure either to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources or to the Director of University Risk Management, in most cases you will receive a response to your disclosure within ninety working days of receipt of your disclosure. Any employee or applicant for employment who makes a disclosure under EO 929 should review Section IV of the Executive Order. If you make a report to the Bureau of State Audits, the Bureau does not report back to individuals who make a complaint. However, if the Bureau investigates and substantiates the allegations, it in most instances issues a public report of its investigations.

Can I discuss this matter with friends and colleagues?

To protect your confidentiality and the confidentiality of the investigation, it is advisable not to discuss the matter with friends or colleagues.

Where can I go with questions?

Contact Pat Carroll, the University's Counsel, or John Beisner, the University's Director of Risk Management, with any questions you may have concerning EO 929. Contact the Bureau of State Audits at 1-800-952-5665 for questions concerning the California Whistleblower Protection Act.

Disclaimer

These responses are for informational purposes only. If there is a conflict between these responses and the text of Executive Order 929, then the text in the Executive Order is controlling and should be relied upon.

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Whistleblower Retaliation Complaints

CSU Executive Order 1058 and President's Directive 14 protects current and former University employees, from retaliation for reporting alleged incidents of improper governmental activities and/or significant threats to health and safety. 

If you feel you have been retaliated against, please contact John Beisner, Director of University Risk Management by phone (657) 278-4937 or email jbeisner@fullerton.edu with any questions or concerns.

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What is Whistleblower Retaliation

"Whistleblower Retaliation" is an intentional act of reprisal by a CSU employee on a current or former employee for filing a whistleblower complaint.  The reprisal could be a threat, act of intimidation, or attempt to intimidate, coerce, or other similar act that could adversely affect the complainant's terms and conditions of employment. 

What should I do if I believe that I have been threatened with retaliation? 

You can file a retaliation complaint within 12 months of the most recent alleged act of retaliation. You may use the Retaliation Complaint Form or any other written format that clearly indicates the intent to file a complaint of retaliation for a protected disclosure or specifically references this executive order. The complaint must contain the following:

  1. The complainant's name, work title or position applied for, and mailing address.
  2. A detailed description of the actions that constituted the alleged improper governmental activity or the condition that may significantly threaten health or safety of CSU employees or the public, including the name(s) and title(s) of the responsible CSU employee(s).
  3. The name(s) of the individual(s) to whom the improper governmental activity or health or safety condition was reported, and the date and manner of the disclosure.
  4. A description of the retaliatory actions, including the date(s), the name(s) and title(s) of the CSU employee(s) who retaliated, and an explanation of the reasons why those actions constituted retaliation.
  5. A list of witnesses, including the facts known by each.
  6. Copies of documentary evidence that supports the retaliation complaint.
  7. A dated and signed statement by the complainant under penalty of perjury that the complaint is true, or is believed by the complainant to be true.
  8. File the complaint with John Beisner, University Risk Manager, CP700, jbeisner@fullerton.edu . The complaint must be personally delivered, or sent by electronic or certified mail. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

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How will the CSU or the University address allegations of retaliation against whistleblowers?

The CSU’s procedure for addressing allegations of retaliation for making a protected disclosure under California’s Whistleblower Protection Act is set forth in Executive Order 1058. Certain reporting requirements mandated by Executive Order 1058 are set forth in President’s Directive No. 14.

What acts may be considered "retaliation? against a whistleblower?

“Retaliation” refers to the direct or indirect use or attempted use by an employee of his/her official authority or influence for the purpose of intimidating, threatening, coercing, commanding, or attempting to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or command any employee or applicant for employment for the purpose of interfering with that person’s rights under the California Whistleblower Protection Act and CSU Executive Order 929. If linked to making a protected disclosure, examples of retaliation may include:

  • Denial of adequate time or staff to perform duties
  • Frequent changes in staff
  • Frequent and undesirable changes in work location
  • Refusal to assign meaningful work
  • Unwarranted or unsubstantiated letters of reprimand or performance evaluations
  • Demotion
  • Transfer
  • Reductions in pay or other benefits
  • Denial of employment or promotion
  • Suspension
  • Termination

“Use of his/her official authority or influence” includes promising to confer, or conferring, any benefit; effecting, or threatening to effect, any reprisal; or taking, or directing others to take, or recommending, processing, or approving, any personnel action, including, but not limit to appointment, promotion, transfer, assignment, performance evaluation, suspension, or other disciplinary action.

What is "protected disclosure?"

A "protected disclosure" is a good faith communication, including any communication based on job duties, that discloses or demonstrates an intent to disclose information that may evidence (1) an improper governmental activity or (2) any condition that may significantly threaten the health or safety of employees or the public made for the purpose of remedying the condition.  The protected disclosure does not have to be made in writing.

Who can make a whistleblower retaliation complaint?

University employees, former University employees or applicants for employment who have made a protected disclosure and believe they have been retaliated against for making that disclosure may file a complaint for whistleblower retaliation under EO 1058.

Where can I file a complaint?

You may file a complaint with your manager or supervisor or the University's Director of University Risk Management. If you submit a complaint to your manager or supervisor, they are required to promptly forward that complaint to the Director of University Risk Management.

Will my complaint be held in confidence?

Your complaint and any investigation will be shared only with those individuals who have a legitimate business reason to know.

Does my complaint have to be in writing?

Yes

What are the required elements of a complaint?

Complaints must be in writing and be addressed or directed to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources. If the written complaint does not include all of the following information, it may be rejected as inadequate:

  1. The name and mailing address of the individual complaining of whistleblower retaliation, his/her working title, or position applied for if the individual was an applicant for employment.
  2. A detailed description of the specific actions that constituted the alleged improper governmental activity or significant threat to health or safety, including name(s) and title(s) of the University employee(s) or official(s) allegedly engaged in the improper governmental activity or responsible for the health or safety condition.
  3. The name(s) of the University official or other state employee(s) to whom the improper governmental activity was reported, and the date and manner of the disclosure.
  4. A description of the specific actions taken that constituted the alleged actual or attempted whistleblower retaliation, including the date or dates of such actions, and the names and titles of the University officials who allegedly took the retaliatory actions, and an explanation of the reasons why those actions were in retaliation for making a protected disclosure.
  5. A list of witnesses, including facts know by each.
  6. Copie of documentary evidence that supports the complaint.
  7. A signed and dated statement under penalty of perjury that the contents of the complaint are true or are believed to be true.

Is there a deadline for making a complaint?

Yes. Complaints must be filed within twelve months of the alleged act of or attempted whistleblower retaliation.

What happens after I make a complaint?

The Director of University Risk Management will notify you whether the University accepted the complaint.  If the complaint was not accepted, the Director of University Risk Management will state the reasons why.

How can I help the investigation?

Tell the truth. In addition, you can provide as much factual information and evidence as possible to allow the investigation to proceed. However, do not obtain any documents for which you do not have a right of access and do not conduct your own investigation. You should prepare yourself to be interviewed and to provide all information you know about the allegations you raised. You are required under Executive Order 1058 to fully cooperate with the investigation.

How long will the investigation take?

In most instance, the investigation will be completed within one year from the date when the complaint was filed.  Under some circumstances set forth in Executive Order 1058, the investigation may take as long as 18 months.

Who determines if my complaint is valid?

The Director of University Risk Management.

Will I be informed of the outcome?

Yes, you will be informed of the findings of the investigation.

Where can I go with questions?

Contact Monique Shay the University’s Counsel, or John Beisner, the University’s Director of Risk Management, with any questions you may have.

Disclaimer

These responses are for informational purposes only. If there is a conflict between these responses and the text of EO 1058, then the text in the Executive Order is controlling and should be relied upon.

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