1.8.12 Whistleblower Policy

Purpose:

Jackson State University is committed to the highest standards of conduct and compliance with all applicable laws. This policy encourages all members of the Jackson State University community to report, without fear of reprisal, any suspicion or knowledge of wrongdoing relating to the University’s financial matters, or any violations of law or University policy.  Jackson State University is appreciative and protective of any employee choosing to report suspected wrongdoing and any information reported will be investigated and resolved in a timely manner.

The general purpose of this policy is to protect any Jackson State University (JSU) employee or other member of the JSU community (hereinafter "Individuals") who makes a good faith disclosure of suspected Wrongful Conduct. More specifically it:

  • Encourages Individuals to disclose violations of law and serious breaches of conduct covered by University policies;
  • Informs Individuals how allegations of Wrongful Conduct may be disclosed;
  • Protects Individuals from reprisal by adverse academic or employment action taken within the University as a result of having disclosed Wrongful Conduct;
  • Provides individuals who believe they have been subject to reprisal a process (as outlined in section 3 under the heading “Complaints of Reprisal”) to seek relief from retaliatory acts that fall within the authority of the University.

 

Policy:

Individuals are expected to abide by state and federal laws and regulations as well as University policies. Furthermore, a JSU employee cannot be compelled by a supervisor or University official to violate a law or University policy. In the interest of the University and its faculty, staff, and students, Individuals who have knowledge of specific acts which they reasonably believe violate the law or University policy are strongly encouraged to disclose those acts to an appropriate University official.Deans, directors, department/unit heads, other administrators who have knowledge of specific acts which they reasonably believe violate the law or University policy must disclose those acts to an appropriate University official.

This policy supplements the existing Mississippi Code Ann. §§ 25-9-171 through 25-9-177 and Section 1553 of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 (Public Law 11 1-5) and protects reporting Individuals who make a good faith report from retaliatory academic or employment action including reprisal in annual reviews or tenure and promotion decisions, discharge, reassignment, demotion, suspension, harassment, or other discrimination.

Procedure:

The University shall devise procedures for handling a Good Faith Report of Wrongful Conduct and for responding to complaints of reprisal or retaliation against Individuals making such reports. Such procedures shall conform to the guidelines detailed below. These procedures should be published on applicable University websites.

Wrongful Conduct/Good Faith Report

  • "Wrongful Conduct" is defined in this policy to be:
  • a violation of applicable state and/or federal laws and regulations;
  • a serious violation of University policy;
  • the use of University property, resources, or authority for personal gain or other non-University-related purpose except as provided under University policy; or
  • the following if in relation to ARRA funds:

    • gross mismanagement of an agency contract or grant relating to recovery funds;
    • a gross waste of recovery funds;
    • a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety related to the implementation or use of recovery funds;
    • an abuse of authority related to the implementation or use of recovery funds; or
    • a violation of law, rule, or regulation related to an agency contract or grant awarded or issued relating to recovery funds.
  1. "Good Faith Report" is defined in this policy to be an allegation of Wrongful Conduct made by an individual who believes that Wrongful Conduct may have occurred.  However, an allegation is not in Good Faith if it is made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation.

 

2.  Making Disclosures

If the University has existing policies and procedures for maintaining standards of conduct and disclosing Wrongful Conduct, those policies should be followed to disclose such Wrongful Conduct.  University policies should be used to report any wrongful conduct covered by those policies. Unless the complainant believes the responsible office may be involved, other instances of Wrongful Conduct should be reported to the University or campus office responsible for the policy area (e.g., NCAA violations should be reported to the Athletics Compliance Office and sexual harassment should be reported to the Department of Human Resources).  If the complainant believes the responsible office may be involved in the Wrongful Conduct, the complainant shall make the report directly to the next higher level of management and/or the Office of Internal Audit. 

Concerns should be reported either verbally or in writing as soon as practicable to the following:

 

  • Provost or Vice President to whom the disclosing individual reports
  • Office of Internal Audit Fraud Hotline (601)979-3951 (http://www.jsums.edu/auditor/fraud-hotline/)
  • JSU Ethics Hotline (https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/31498/index.html ). 

 

Reports of improper governmental action can also be made under state law, Mississippi Code Ann. §§ 25-9-171 to 25-9-177, to the Mississippi Attorney General, State Auditor, Ethics Commission, Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review or any other standing committee of the legislature, or any district attorney of the State of Mississippi.

Reports related to ARRA of 2009 funds may be made to an inspector general, the Comptroller General, a member of Congress, a State or Federal regulatory or law enforcement agency, a person with supervisory authority over the employee (or such other person working for the employer who has the authority to investigate, discover, or terminate misconduct). Additional information regarding whistle blower protection related to ARRA funds may be found at http://m.recovery.pov.

 

3.  Complaints of Reprisal

It is a violation of this Policy to retaliate in any way against an individual who has reported misconduct or otherwise assisted in an investigation under this Policy. Whistleblowers who believe that they have been retaliated against may file a written complaint. Any complaint of retaliation will be promptly investigated and appropriate corrective measures taken if allegations of retaliation are substantiated. This protection from retaliation is not intended to prohibit supervisors from taking action, including disciplinary action, in the usual scope of their duties and based on valid performance-related factors.

 

Procedures:

  • Students who have been subjected to adverse academic actions, a written complaint may be filed with the Vice President/Provost for Academic Affairs. Adverse academic actions may include but are not limited to: denial of student services, unfair grading, inability to participate in campus activities, being subjected to a hostile environment by the University.
  • Employees who have been subjected to an adverse employment action may file a written complaint of reprisal with the Office of the General Counsel. Examples of adverse employment actions may include but are not limited to: demotion, termination, salary adjustment, and reprimands.
  • Upon receipt of the complaint, an investigation will be undertaken by the appropriate office. All investigations will be completed within 60 days. Extensions of time may be granted as deemed necessary by the investigating authority.
  • Upon the conclusion of the investigation, a formal letter detailing the findings will be provided to the complainant. A written summary of the investigation with findings and recommendations will be provided to the Office of the President.
  • If the formal investigation substantiates the alleged retaliation, the University will undertake appropriate remedies for the retaliation in accordance with the university's existing policies and procedures.

 

Nothing in this policy is intended to interfere with legitimate academic and employment decisions.

 

Review:

The Office of the President is responsible for the review of this policy every four years (or whenever circumstances require immediate review).