Government officials and employees may make mistakes or engage in activities that are inconsistent with the requirements of their positions or that violate the public trust. It is to the jurisdiction's benefit, and to the public trust, to identify improper actions and take curative actions. Often, this may not be possible unless someone (such as an employee) reports the improper actions (referred to as "whistleblowing"). However, an employee may fear making a report adverse to an official or a superior because of a presumed risk that, in return, an adverse action will be taken against them. Whistleblowing laws and policies guard against this presumed risk by prohibiting adverse retaliatory actions against the whistleblower.
- Ch. 42.41 RCW – Local Government Whistleblower Protection
- Ch.42.40 RCW – State Employee Whistleblower Protection
- U.S. Department of Labor: Federal Whistleblower Statutes – The federal whistleblower act is administered by the federal Office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This page provides comprehensivie information on how to file complaints, what to expect from an investigation, tips for creating an anti-retaliation program, and additional fact sheets on the federal whistleblower act and regulations.
Examples of Ordinance Provisions and Policies
The following ordinances or policies set out procedures to follow when an officer or employee alleges improper action by another employee or officer.
- Bothell Whistleblower Policy (2021) - outlines the local procedure for employee reporting of improper governmental action and steps to take if realiation occurs
- Chewelah Reporting Improper Governmental Action and Protecting Employees Against Retaliation (2022)
- Ellensburg Reporting Improper Governmental Action (2015) - city council investigates employees' written complaints about retaliation because of whistleblowing
- Tumwater Employee Code of Ethics and Policy (Whistle Blower) (2011) - combines employee code of ethics with whistleblower reporting procedures in the same section
- Spokane Municipal Code Sec. 01.04A.180 - whistleblower panel investigates whistleblowing complaint and makes a final report to the HR director
Special Purpose Districts
- Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Reporting Improper Governmental Action (2019) - the General Manager investigates whistleblowing complaints and retaliation claims
- Port of Port Angeles Improper Governmental Action (2016)
- Skyway Water and Sewer District Retaliation and Whistleblower Protection (2016) - provides clear description of what constitutes improper actions
- Washington State Auditor's Office: State Employee Whistleblower Program – This page provides comprehensive information about the whistleblower program as it applies to state employees, including links to: Frequently Asked Questions, and the state Whistleblower Reporting Form.
- National Whistleblower Center – A nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting employees' lawful disclosure of waste, fraud, and abuse.