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Whistle Blower Protection

The Ethics Act, as well as University policy, protects employees who, in good faith, report or threaten to report an act or omission they believe to be a violation of law, policy, or procedure.

RETALIATORY ACTION

The University cannot retaliate or threaten retaliation against you for engaging in any of the following protected activities:

  • Disclosing or threatening to disclose any practice or action you reasonably believe is in violation of the law.
  • Providing information or testifying about any violation of the law, including but not limited to violations of the Freedom of Information Act, by any officer, member, University employee, state agency, or the University.
  • Assisting or participating in a proceeding to enforce the Ethics Act.

Retaliatory action is defined as reprimand, discharge, suspension, demotion, denial of promotion or transfer, or change in the terms or conditions of employment of any State employee, which is taken in retaliation for involvement in protected activity. It is not a violation if the employer can demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, the same personnel action would have been taken even in the absence of the protected activity. Employees may bring a civil action to seek reinstatement and/or damages for illegal retaliation.

REVOLVING DOOR PROHIBITION

The revolving door prohibition applies to identified officers, board members, state employees, or immediate family members living with such persons who, within a period of one year immediately after termination of State employment or appointment, knowingly accept employment or receive compensation or fees for services from a person or entity if the State employee/appointee, during the year immediately preceding termination of State employment:

  1. Participated substantially in awarding the vendor a contract for services or issuance of change orders with a cumulative value of $25,000 or more.
  2. Was involved with a regulatory or licensure decision that directly applied to the person or entity. For individuals in positions identified as being subject to the revolving door prohibitions, there is a determination process through the Inspector General's Office that may allow the otherwise prohibited employment or compensation. Please note there is no exception or determination process for the President, Chief Procurement Officer, and appointed members of the Board of Trustees due to the nature of their State positions; they are strictly prohibited from revolving door employment. If you have any questions regarding the revolving door prohibition, you should contact your University Ethics Officer or see the Executive Inspector General's website at: www.inspectorgeneral.illinois.gov.

If an Employee is found to be in violation of the revolving door prohibitions, a fine of up to three times the total compensation that would have been obtained may be levied.

EXECUTIVE ETHICS COMMISSION, EXECUTIVE INSPECTOR GENERAL

The Illinois Executive Ethics Commission (Ethics Commission) is comprised of nine appointed commissioners, each serving a four-year term. The Commission's duties include: conducting administrative hearings on allege violations of the Ethics Act, providing guidance to the Ethics Officers, and overseeing ethics training for all employees of the executive branch of state government. For additional information about the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission, visit its web site at: www.eec.illinois.gov.

For University employees, the Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor (OEIG) serves as the Executive Inspector General. This position is appointed by the Governor of the State of Illinois for a term of five years.

Established in 2003, the OEIG acts as an independent state agency, whose primary function is to investigate fraud, abuse and violations of laws, rules and policies in state government. It investigates reported allegations of misconduct by the employees, appointees, elected officials, and state vendors under its jurisdiction. The OEIG may also initiate investigations without receipt of a specific complaint.

The OEIG's jurisdiction includes State Public Universities, the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, and all state agencies and departments of the executive branch of state government, except for those agencies under the jurisdiction of the Offices of the Attorney General, the Comptroller, the Treasurer, and Secretary of State.

Additionally, the OEIG has responsibility for investigating reported misconduct by those (such as contractors or vendors) who conduct business with state employees or entities under the OEIG's jurisdiction.

For additional information about the Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor, visit its web site at: www.inspectorgeneral.illinois.gov.

 

COOPERATING WITH INVESTIGATIONS

If you are asked by an individual from the Inspector General's Office to participate in an investigation, the law requires that you cooperate. In order to conduct their business in a confidential manner, the investigators may ask that you not share any details of your discussion. You are expected to respond to the questions of the investigator fully and factually, without inference or presumption.

Upon being contacted, you will have an opportunity, if you wish, to ask whether you are the subject of an investigation or a witness and whether you can have another person attend the meeting with you (e.g., union representative, personal attorney, friend, or co-worker). Though your Ethics Officer is unable to discuss the details of your interview, he or she can assist in regard to further explaining the law and the related process.

You may also reference the Executive Ethics Commission's related brochure at:
www.eec.illinois.gov/documents/EMPLOYEE RIGHTS-BRO.pdf.

Additionally, your Ethics Officer is a resource to assist in the collection and delivery of documents requested by the Inspector General investigator to ensure compliance with state and federal privacy requirements such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Failure to cooperate in an OEIG investigation is grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Effective July 1, 2008, requests for documents and materials from University employees by an Inspector General investigator must be made in writing (Illinois Executive Ethics Commission rule Section 1620.300).

REPORTING POSSIBLE OR ALLEGED MISCONDUCT

As a state employee, it is your ethical duty to report violations of laws, rules, or regulations by another State (including University) officer, employee or vendor relating to State/University business including prohibited offers or promises. To report a non-emergency violation of law, rule or regulation, you should contact the Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor (OEIG) via its toll-free Hotline at 866-814-1113. For those who require it, the OEIG may also be contacted toll-free via a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at 888-261-2734.

In the event of an emergency situation requiring an immediate police response, you should contact the Illinois State Police or the county, municipal or campus police agency that can provide the fastest response (for example, by dialing 911). Examples of emergency situations include those that involve the illegal use or possession of a weapon, bodily injury or threat of bodily injury, or criminal sexual assault.

All spoken or written statements to the OEIG, whether in reporting an incident or participating in an investigation, must be truthful and believed to be factual by the communicating employee.

PENALTIES WITHIN THE LAW

There are several penalties for noncompliance within the Ethics Act, including misdemeanor criminal charges, personal fines, and discipline or discharge. It is important that you not only understand the requirements of the law, but that you comply with its various aspects. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always contact your Ethics Officer.