Whistleblower Policy

Last Updated Date

The Half Hollow Hills Community Library is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, honesty, and accountability. The Library's internal controls and operating procedures are intended to detect and prevent or deter improper activities.  However, even the best systems of control cannot provide absolute safeguards against irregularities. Intentional and unintentional violations of laws, regulations, policies, and procedures may occur and may constitute improper activities. This Whistleblower  Policy is intended to encourage and enable employees to raise serious concerns within the Library rather than overlooking a problem or seeking a  resolution of the problem outside the Library.

This policy provides a procedure for employees to report improper governmental action by Library officers or employees and protects employees who have reported improper governmental actions in accordance with Library policies and procedures.

Definitions - The following definitions shall apply to this Policy. To the extent that such definitions vary with the terms of NY Labor Law Section 740 and Civil Service Law Section 75-b, the definitions, applications, and interpretations of the following terms in such Sections shall prevail:

  • "Improper governmental action" means any action by a Library officer or employee that is undertaken in the performance of the officer's or employee's official duties as a Library employee, whether or not the action is within the scope of the employee's employment; and that is in violation of any federal, state or local law or written departmental policy, is an abuse of authority, is of substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety or is a gross waste of public funds.
  • "Improper governmental action" does not include personnel actions, including employee grievances, complaints, appointments, promotions, transfers, assignments, reassignments, reinstatements, restorations, reemployments, performance evaluations, reductions in pay, dismissals, suspensions, demotions, violations of collective bargaining or civil service law or alleged violations of labor agreements or reprimands unless such actions are in violation of the law.
  • "Retaliatory action" means any adverse change in the terms and conditions of a Library employee's employment.
  • "Emergency" means a circumstance that if not immediately changed may cause damage to persons or property.

Procedures for Reporting

The Library's open-door policy encourages employees to share their questions, concerns, suggestions, or complaints with someone who can address them properly. Employees who become aware of improper governmental action should first raise the issue with their supervisor. If requested, the employee shall submit a written report to the supervisor stating in detail the basis for the employee's belief that an improper governmental action has occurred. Where the employee reasonably believes the improper governmental action involves his/her supervisor or the employee is not comfortable speaking with his/her supervisor, the employee should raise the issue with the Library Director. If the suspected or actual violation concerns the Director, the staff member should report the matter directly to the President of the Board of Trustees.

Supervisors shall take prompt action to assist the Library in properly investigating a report of improper governmental action. Library officers and employees involved in the investigation shall keep the identity of reporting employees confidential to the extent possible under the law unless the employee authorizes the disclosure of his or her identity in writing.

If the employee is not satisfied with the supervisor's response, he/she is encouraged to speak to anyone in management whom they are comfortable approaching, including the Library Director. The Assistant Director, department heads, and supervisors are required to report suspected violations to the Director. The Director is required to look into all reported violations and submit a written report to the Board of Trustees with appropriate recommendations.

In the case of an emergency, where the employee believes that damage to persons or property may result if action is not taken immediately, the employee may report the improper governmental action directly to the President of the Board of Trustees.

After an investigation has been completed, the employee reporting the improper governmental action shall receive a written or oral summary of the results of the investigation, except that personnel actions taken as a result of the investigation shall be kept confidential.

Thereafter, Library employees may report information about the improper governmental action directly to the appropriate government agency which has responsibility for investigating the improper action if the Library employee has a reasonable belief that one of the following two conditions exists:

  • A thorough investigation was not undertaken by the Library to determine whether an improper governmental action occurred, or
  • Insufficient action has been taken by the Library to address the improper governmental action.

Anyone reporting a concern must act in good faith and have reasonable grounds for believing the information disclosed indicates an improper accounting or auditing practice, or a violation of ethical behavior. The act of making allegations that prove to be unsubstantiated, and that prove to have been made maliciously, recklessly, or with the foreknowledge that the allegations are false, will be viewed as a serious disciplinary offense and may result in discipline, up to and including dismissal from a volunteer position or termination of employment. Such conduct may also give rise to other actions, including civil lawsuits.

Protection against Retaliatory Actions

The Library adheres to the  NYS Civil Service Law 75-b and the NYS Labor Law 740 which outline employee rights regarding retaliation in the workplace.  No employee who in good faith reports a violation shall suffer harassment,  retaliation, or adverse employment consequences. An employee who retaliates against someone who has reported a violation in good faith is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment. A volunteer may be removed from an appointed or elected position.

Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for reporting an improper governmental action should advise the Library Director. If the retaliation involves the Library Director, the employee should advise the Board of Trustees. Library Trustees shall take appropriate action to investigate and address complaints of retaliation.

Approved by the Board of Trustees: 10/17/11

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