University System of Maryland
Policy On Employee and Applicant Disclosure of Misconduct
Approved by the Board of Regents, December 13, 1996
- Purpose and Applicability
The purpose of this policy is to set forth the University System of Maryland (USM) policy on employee and applicant disclosure of misconduct, and to protect employees and applicants from retaliation in the form of an adverse personnel action for disclosing what the employee or applicant believes evidences certain unlawful, wasteful or hazardous practices. This policy is applicable to all exempt, classified-exempt, and nonexempt employees of the USM and to applicants for USM jobs in these categories. For purposes of this policy, "applicant" is defined as any USM or other State of Maryland employee who is an applicant for a USM job.
- Statement of Policy
It is the policy of the University System of Maryland that any exempt, classified-exempt, or nonexempt employee or applicant shall be free without fear of retaliation to make known allegations of alleged misconduct existing within the USM that he/she reasonably believes evidences:
- An abuse of authority, gross misconduct, or gross waste of money; or
- A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety; or
- A violation of law.
A representative of the USM shall not take or refuse to take any personnel action as retaliation against an employee or applicant who discloses information regarding misconduct under this policy or who, following such disclosure, seeks a remedy provided under this policy or any law or other USM policy.
This policy does not apply to a disclosure that is specifically prohibited by law unless such disclosure is made in accordance with Section III.E of this policy.
Complaints of Retaliation as a Result of Disclosure
- Process for Disclosure
- An employee or applicant shall disclose all relevant information regarding evidenced misconduct to the Chief Executive Officer or designee of the applicable USM institution in a signed written document within one-year of the day on which he/she knew or reasonably should have known of the misconduct.
- In consultation with the Maryland Attorney General's Office, the Chief Executive Officer or designee shall consider the disclosure and take whatever action he/she determines to be appropriate under the law and circumstances of the disclosure.
- In the case of disclosure of misconduct involving the Chief Executive Officer of an USM institution, the disclosure shall be directed to the Chief Executive Officer of the University System of Maryland (Chancellor) or designee. In consultation with the Maryland Attorney General's Office and the Board of Regents, the Chancellor or designee shall consider the disclosure and take whatever action he/she determines to be appropriate under the law and circumstances of the disclosure.
- In the case of disclosure of misconduct involving the Chief Executive Officer of the USM (Chancellor), the disclosure shall be directed to the Chair of the USM Board of Regents. In consultation with the Maryland Attorney General's Office the Chair shall consider the disclosure and take whatever action he/she determines to be appropriate under the law and the circumstances of the disclosure.
- Information, the disclosure of which is otherwise prohibited by law, shall be disclosed to the Assistant Attorney General designated by the Maryland Attorney General to receive such information.
If an employee or applicant believes that he or she has been retaliated against in the form of an adverse personnel action for disclosing information regarding misconduct under this policy he/she may file a written complaint requesting an appropriate remedy.
For purposes of this policy an adverse personnel action shall be defined as actions such as: a disciplinary suspension; a decision not to promote; a decision not to grant a salary increase; a decision not to hire; a termination; an involuntary demotion; rejection during probation; a performance evaluation in which the employee's performance is generally evaluated as unsatisfactory; an involuntary resignation; an involuntary retirement; an involuntary reassignment to a position with demonstrably less responsibility or status as the one held prior to the reassignment; or an unfavorable change in the general terms and conditions of employment.
Process for Adjudication of Complaints Stemming from Disclosure
Appeal of Determination
- An employee may file a complaint with the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management within six months after he or she knew or should have known of the adverse personnel action in accordance with the Department of Budget and Management's regulations. However, employees shall make every effort to resolve complaints at the institutional or University System of Maryland level, as follows.
- A complaint shall be filed with the appropriate Chief Executive Officer or designee within thirty (30) calendar days from the effective date of the adverse personnel action or from the date on which the employee or applicant should reasonably have had knowledge of the adverse personnel action.
- Complaints shall be filed in writing and shall include:
- name and work address of the complainant;
- name and title of USM official(s) against whom the complaint is made;
- the specific type(s) of adverse personnel action(s) taken;
- the specific date(s) on which the adverse personnel action(s) were taken;
- a clear and concise statement of the facts that form the basis of the complaint;
- a clear and concise statement of the complainant's explanation of how his/her previous disclosure of misconduct is related to the adverse personnel action; and
- a clear and concise statement of the remedy sought by the complainant.
- Within sixty (60) calendar days of receipt of the complaint the Chief Executive Officer or designee shall consider the written complaint, shall conduct an investigation which, in his/her judgment, is consistent with the circumstances of the complaint and disclosure, and shall provide the complainant with a determination regarding the complaint.
- The determination shall be in writing and shall include the findings of fact, the conclusions of the investigation and, if applicable, a specific and timely remedy consistent with the findings.
- For purposes of this policy a remedy may include back pay, promotion, reinstatement, reassignment, removal of detrimental material from institutional files, a written correction of institutional records, appointment, a change in the terms and conditions of employment, or any other action considered by the Chief Executive Officer or designee to be consistent with the findings.
Irrespective of a complainant's appeal of the determination, if it is determined that an employee or applicant has been retaliated against for his/her prior disclosure of misconduct, in consultation with the Maryland Attorney General's Office, the Chief Executive Officer shall initiate appropriate and immediate disciplinary and/or legal action consistent with the circumstances of the complaint and the disclosure against the perpetrator(s) of the retaliation.
- In the event the complainant takes exception to the determination issued by the Chief Executive Officer or designee, or if the determination is not issued within sixty (60) days, then the complainant may request that the matter be considered at a hearing conducted by a hearing officer designated by the Chief Executive Officer or disignee.
- A request for a hearing shall be submitted in writing by the complainant to the Chief Executive Officer or designee within fifteen (15) calendar days from the date the determination was issued or should have been issued.
- The hearing officer shall not be a regular employee of the USM institution against which the complaint is filed.
- The appeal shall be heard within forty-five (45) calendar days of the Chief Executive Officer's receipt of the hearing request.
- Responsibilties of Hearing Officer
- The hearing officer shall issue and distribute a written decision to all parties within forty-five (45) calendar days from the hearing date.
- The hearing officer's decision shall include a finding of facts based upon the evidence and arguments presented at the hearing and upon any post-hearing briefs; a discussion of the facts; a conclusion(s); and a remedy consistent with the findings.
- The hearing officer shall have no power to alter, add to, detract from, or amend any USM or institutional policy and/or procedure.
- A remedy granted by the hearing officer shall be consistent with section V. D. 2. b. of this policy. The hearing officer shall have no power to grant a remedy that requires the commission of an act prohibited by law or that is inconsistent with existing USM or institutional policy and/or procedure.
- If applicable, the hearing officer may decide if a complainant who prevails at a hearing should be awarded reasonable attorney's fees.
- Decision of the Hearing Officer
Subject to any rights of the complainant under Section V.A of this policy, the decision of the hearing officer shall be final.
- A complaint will not be accepted from the same complainant which in whole or in part is substantially the same as one currently being considered or previously determined under this policy, one currently being considered or previously determined under another USM policy or procedure, or one currently being considered or previously determined by an eternal agency, or one which is the subject of current or past litigation.
- This policy does not prohibit a personnel action that would have been taken regardless of a disclosure of information.
Each Chief Executive Officer shall identify his/her designee(s), if appropriate, for this policy; shall develop procedures as necessary to implement this policy; and shall forward a copy of such procedures to the Chancellor.
UM BOR III - 20.00, June 25, 1985, Policy on Protection of Certain Classified Employee Disclosures.
UM Personnel Policies and Rules for Classified Employees, Section VIII, Conduct and Discipline, Page VIII-4.
Additionally, this policy supersedes, in whole, or in part, any policy (ies) and/or procedures(s) established by the Regents, Trustees, Presidents, or their designees, of the former institutions of the University of Maryland, and of the former State Universities and Colleges, and of the Regents of the University System of Maryland that are in conflict with this policy's purpose, applicability, or intent, that may have been overlooked and not included as a specific citation under "Replacement for."
History - Policy on Applicant Disclosure
BOR 12/13/96; ,MW12/16/96;MW2/13/97)
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