In response to a legislative directive, the Governing Board has adopted the following policy:
- Pursuant to ARS §38-532, no adverse personnel action will be taken against an employee of the Maricopa County Community College District in retaliation or reprisal for written disclosure of information of a public concern to a public body concerning an alleged violation of law, mismanagement, gross waste of monies or abuse of authority (collectively referred to herein as "alleged wrongful conduct").
- "Public Body" is defined as the Arizona Attorney General, the Arizona Legislature, the Governor of Arizona, the Maricopa County Attorney, a federal, state or local law enforcement agency, or the Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board.
- It is prohibited personnel practice for an employee who has control over personnel actions, to knowingly take an adverse personnel action against an employee in retaliation for disclosing alleged wrongful conduct to a public body. Any District employee found to have so retaliated is subject to dismissal subject to termination procedures as set forth in District policy and a civil penalty of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000).
- This policy may not be used as a defense by an employee who is being or has been disciplined for legitimate reasons or cause under District policy, and it shall not be a violation of this policy to take an adverse personnel action towards an employee whose conduct or performance warrants discipline.
- Any District employee who knowingly makes false allegations of alleged wrongful conduct to a public body shall be subject to discipline, up to and including termination of employment subject to termination procedures as set forth in District policy and a civil penalty of up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).
- An adverse personnel action under this policy is defined as one of the following if the reason for the action was prior disclosure of alleged wrongful conduct to a public body:
- Termination of employment
- Demotion with salary reduction
- Imposition of suspension without pay
- Receipt of written reprimand
- Failure to appoint, promote or reemploy
- Negative performance evaluation
- Withholding of appropriate salary adjustments
- Involuntary transfer or reassignment
- Elimination of the employee's position absent a reduction in force, reorganization or by reason of a decrease or lack of sufficient funding, monies or workload
- Significant changes in duties or responsibilities which is inconsistent with the employee's salary or grade level
- An employee or former employee (an employee who has been dismissed) who believes he or she has been subjected to an adverse personnel action based on prior disclosure of alleged wrongful conduct may protest the action by filing a claim of retaliation and having it considered in accordance with the following procedures:
- A written complaint setting forth the basis for the claim or retaliation must be filed with the Chancellor or designee within 10 days of the effective date of the action taken against him/her.
- The Chancellor or his/her designee shall name within five working days after receipt of a complaint described in paragraph (a), a Whistleblower Hearing Committee to hear the complaint.
- The committee shall be composed of three persons not associated with the incident or allegations. The make-up of the committee shall be as follows: one College President from a college not related to the alleged violation to be named by the Chancellor; one District employee named by the complainant; one District employee named by the individual who is accused of committing a prohibited personnel practice.
- The committee shall make an initial determination of jurisdiction over the subject matter within 10 working days after receipt of the complaint by the Chancellor. This means that, based upon the contents of the written complaint and any additional information the parties desire to submit, the committee will decide whether (1) the complainant did, in fact, disclose information to a public body as defined by the law and policy and (2) whether an adverse personnel action as set forth in Paragraph 6 took place. If the answer to either (1) or (2) is "no," no further action will take place.
- If the answers to (1) and (2) in Paragraph 7 (d) are yes, the committee will accept jurisdiction and set a hearing date no later than 30 calendar days after receipt of the complaint by the Chancellor.
- At the hearing, a determination of whether the adverse personnel action was retaliation for the disclosure or whether it was based upon other supportable reasons will be determined. Also, the issue of whether the complainant knowingly made false allegations to a public agency as described in Paragraph 5 will be decided if raised.
- All parties at the hearing may be represented by counsel.
- The hearing will be open to the public except where the complainant requests a confidential hearing. The hearing will not be subject to the technical rules of evidence except the rule of privilege recognized by the court. Each side will have the opportunity to call witnesses, present evidence, and cross-examine the other party's witnesses. The hearing will be recorded and transcribed upon the request of either party. The requesting party will bear the cost of transcription.
- The committee will issue findings of fact within 15 days after the conclusion of the hearing. The committee's findings are final. These findings will be forwarded to the Governing Board along with the committee's recommendation for appropriate discipline, if applicable. The Governing Board shall make the final decision with regard to imposition of discipline or fine.
- Complaints against the Governing Board or an appeal of the decisions made in accordance with this policy must be filed in Superior Court.
- The District shall have Ombudsperson Services that are available to the external (non-employees) community and internal employee community to address complaints and concerns relative to the operations of the Maricopa County Community College District. These services may be staffed by District employees or may be contracted or both. The District shall also maintain a 24-hour hotline for the submission of complaints and concerns (anonymous or otherwise). These services are not considered to be services of the "public body" as defined in section 2 of this policy; persons seeking whistleblower protection may avail the services of the public body as defined in section 2.
- Among the concerns or complaints that may be reviewed by the Ombudsperson are unsolicited, derogatory and anonymous complaints or concerns about employees. These shall not be reviewed separately by the Governing Board.
- Quarterly, the Chancellor shall submit to the Governing Board and District Audit and Finance Committee summary information on the number of Ombuds and 24-Hour Hotline complaints in the District. Such report shall protect the identity of Ombuds and 24-Hour Hotline reporters. Quarterly, the Chancellor also shall submit to the Governing Board and District Audit and Finance Committee summary information on complaints and concerns submitted to the external and internal Ombudsperson Services. Identities shall be protected.
AMENDED February 22, 2011, Motion No. 9781, 9782
AMENDED November 27, 2007, Motion No. 9455
AMENDED February 27, 2007, Motion No. 9409
AMENDED December 13, 2005, Motion No. 9349
AMENDED November 27, 2001 (for inclusion in Board Auxiliary Policy Type only)
ADOPTED October 23, 1990, Motion No. 7424