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Viewing: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Whistleblower Policy

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Current Status: Active PolicyStat ID: 5092510

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Whistleblower Policy

 

Introduction

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to encourage individuals to report possible Wrongful Conduct to an appropriate authority so that prompt, corrective action can be taken by the University and to protect reporting individuals from any Retaliation for reporting Wrongful Conduct.

Scope of Applicability

This policy applies to all members of our community, including students, employees, applicants for employment or admission, visiting scholars, contractors, vendors, affiliates, volunteers, and campus visitors (together referred to as the “Carolina Community”).

Definitions

Wrongful Conduct is any known or suspected action, whether willful or inadvertent, related to the University or to the conduct of members of the Carolina Community that: 

  • Violates a federal, State, or local law;
  • Violates University policy and/or procedure;
  • Violates ethical and/or professional standards;
  • Constitutes fraud, gross mismanagement, gross waste of monies, or misuse of University property, resources, or authority; and/or
  • Poses a substantial and specific danger to the health or safety of the public or any member of the Carolina Community.

Protected Activity for purposes of this policy is (1) an individual’s good faith participation in the reporting or investigation of possible Wrongful Conduct or (2) an individual’s reasonable refusal to engage in Wrongful Conduct.

Retaliation is any action taken against an individual because of the individual’s participation in Protected Activity that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in Protected Activity.

Policy

Reporting Possible Wrongful Conduct

A. Reporting to University Authorities

Any member of the Carolina Community who suspects possible Wrongful Conduct should promptly share these concerns with their supervisor (or someone else in their management chain, if applicable), the Dean, Director or Department Chair of the area in which the Wrongful Conduct occurred, or other appropriate authority. Also, additional reporting avenues can be identified by clicking “Report a Concern or Student Complaint” on the University’s ethics and integrity website at ethicsandintegrity.unc.edu.

Certain Wrongful Conduct must be reported to appropriate authorities under the law. 

  • All employees must report any information they receive about the misuse of state property to their immediate supervisors or the University’s Internal Audit Department.
  • Everyone has a duty to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect by a parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker. Additionally, everyone must report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a disabled or elder adult by their caretaker.
  • Physicians and hospitals must also report to law enforcement certain kinds of wounds or illnesses, including certain injuries caused by weapons, poisoning, and grave bodily harm or illness due to suspected criminal violence.
  • Photo processors and computer technicians who, within the scope of their employment, come across images of a minor engaging in sexual activity must report to law enforcement.
  • Responsible employees have an obligation to report to an EOC professional staff member any information they learn about incidents of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on any protected status, sexual assault or sexual violence, sexual exploitation, interpersonal violence, or stalking. Campus Security Authorities also should report to the Clery coordinator.
  • Reporting of Wrongful Conduct may also be required under the terms of specific contracts, agreements or grants.

Individuals are encouraged to utilize the reporting option with which they feel most comfortable. While it is understandable that some parties may wish to remain anonymous, open reporting more often allows for the University to investigate and adjudicate matters fully, and individuals should be reminded that all reporting parties are protected from retaliation. The UNC Office of Ethics Education and Policy Management and the University Ombuds Office can provide assistance with identifying the appropriate University authority regarding specific types of possible Wrongful Conduct.

Individuals may report a possible violation of the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct (such as discrimination, harassment, sexual violence, interpersonal violence, stalking, or retaliation) to the EOC Office. 

B. Anonymous Reporting

Reports of possible Wrongful Conduct can be submitted anonymously through the University’s Carolina Ethics Line, unc.ethicspoint.com. The Carolina Ethics Line is maintained by a third party vendor, EthicsPoint, Inc., to allow individuals to make anonymous reports regarding possible Wrongful Conduct. 

Individuals may report a possible violation of the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct (such as discrimination, harassment, sexual violence, interpersonal violence, stalking, or retaliation) anonymously by completing an online report form at eoc.unc.edu/report-an-incident.

Although individuals may feel most comfortable submitting reports anonymously, doing so limits the University’s ability to provide reporting individuals with interim protective measures and may also impair the University’s ability to investigate or take disciplinary or other corrective action. Persons making anonymous reports should also be aware that their identity may be discerned from the information they disclose when making the report, though the University strives to respect privacy and protect the identity of reporting individuals when possible.

C. Important Information about Reports

Certain student and employee information is confidential under applicable law. Therefore, in some cases, the University may be unable to disclose to individuals who report possible Wrongful Conduct any or all actions taken in response to such reports.

Addressing Possible Wrongful Conduct and Retaliation

After receipt of a report of possible Wrongful Conduct, the University will assess and resolve the matter as appropriate, consistent with applicable University policy. In response, the University may notify the individual suspected of Wrongful Conduct of the allegations to allow that individual to respond. The University may interview other people who may have information necessary to resolve the matter. The University will make reasonable efforts to conduct any investigations in a private manner understanding that, at times, providing identifying information to other parties may be required by law. Nevertheless, such individuals would still be protected under this policy including from retaliation.

Protection from Retaliation

A. Prohibited Retaliation

The University prohibits any form of Retaliation against a person who in good faith reports or participates in the review of suspected Wrongful Conduct, whether the report or review was made to the University or an external body. Anyone who engages in Retaliation against another for Protected Activity may be subject to disciplinary or other corrective action as described above.

Retaliation may occur even when an underlying report made in good faith was not substantiated. Retaliation may be committed by an individual or a group of individuals. During the review and resolution of alleged Wrongful Conduct, reasonable steps will be taken to protect individuals from Retaliation while still affording those who have been accused of Wrongful Conduct with adequate notice of the report made against them. 

Reporting Wrongful Conduct does not protect individuals from academic, employment, or other reasonable actions taken for legitimate non-retaliatory reasons.

B. Exceptions

An individual is not protected by this policy if their report of alleged Wrongful Conduct proves to have been made with malice or with knowledge that the report is false; in fact, in such cases, the reporting individual could be subject to disciplinary or other corrective action as described above.

Individuals who self-report their own Wrongful Conduct are not afforded protection by this policy; however, the University may take self-reporting into account as a mitigating factor in determining an appropriate response.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

Consequences for Wrongful Conduct will be determined based on applicable University policy or law and the facts of each case. Members of the Carolina Community who violate this policy may face disciplinary or other corrective action including, but not limited to, suspension, expulsion, disciplinary warning, termination of employment, restriction from University property, or termination of a formal relationship or agreement with the University.

Consequences for Retaliation in violation of this policy will also be based on the facts of each case and relevant laws and regulations. 

The following is a non-exhaustive list of relevant state and federal laws and regulations:

North Carolina State Law

  • Commerce and Business, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 66, Article 13
  • Department Heads to Report Possible Violations of Criminal Statutes Involving Misuse of State Property to State Bureau of Investigation, North Carolina General Statutes 143B-920
  • North Carolina False Claims Act, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 1, Article 51
  • North Carolina Human Resources Act, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 126
  • Physician and Hospital Reports, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 90, Article 1C
  • Protection for Reporting Improper Government Activities (“North Carolina Whistleblower Act”), North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 126, Article 14
  • Protection of the Abused, Neglected or Exploited Disabled Adult Act, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 108A, Article 6
  • Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (“REDA”), North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 95, Article 21
  • Screening of Abuse and Neglect Complaints, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 7B, Article 3

Federal Law

  • Age Discrimination Act of 1975
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Equal Pay Act
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Federal Acquisition Regulation, Contractor Employee Whistleblower Rights and Requirement to Inform Employees of Whistleblower Rights, 48 C.F.R. 52.203-17
  • Federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-32
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
  • Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security and Campus Crime Statistics Act
  • Pilot Program for Enhancement of Contractor Protection from Reprisal for Disclosure of Certain Information, 41 U.S.C. 4712
  • Section 501 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Title VI and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
  • Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act
  • Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Pub. L. No. 101-12
  • Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-199
  • Whistleblower Protections for Contractor Employees, 48 C.F.R. Part 3, Subpart 3.9

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contact

The UNC Office of Ethics Education and Policy Management can provide assistance with connecting individuals to appropriate University officials for questions regarding specific types of Wrongful Conduct, as well as protections against Retaliation.

Kim Strom-Gottfried, PhD, LISW

Director, Office of Ethics Education and Policy Management

919-445-8362

ksg@unc.edu

All revision dates: 7/31/2018
Attachments:

Approval Signatures

Step Description Approver Date
Director Approval Kimberly Strom-Gottfried: Smith P. Theimann Distinguished Prof 7/31/2018
University Policy Review Committee Jennifer DeNeal: Administrative Director 7/31/2018
Internal Office Review Jennifer DeNeal: Administrative Director 7/12/2018
Step Description Approver Date
Director Approval Kimberly Strom-Gottfried: Smith P. Theimann Distinguished Prof 7/31/2018
University Policy Review Committee Jennifer DeNeal: Administrative Director 7/31/2018
Internal Office Review Jennifer DeNeal: Administrative Director 7/12/2018
Older Version Approval Signatures