Whistleblower Protections Policy

Hartwick College endeavors to operate in an ethical and lawful manner and accordingly all of its Trustees, officers, employees, third party contractors, independent contractors, and volunteers (“Covered Persons”) must act in accordance with applicable federal, state and local statutes, including New York State Labor Law Section 740, ordinances, executive orders, rules, regulations, judicial or administrative decisions, rulings or orders, and must faithfully implement and adhere to the College’s internal control policies and procedures in conducting their duties and responsibilities. Covered Persons have a responsibility for the stewardship of Hartwick College resources and the private support that enables it to pursue its mission.

This policy provides an avenue for all Trustees, officers, current and former employees, independent contractors and volunteers to report any suspected or actual conduct contrary to these requirements and standards (“Covered Conduct”) without the fear of intimidation, harassment, discrimination or retaliation. The policy is intended to complement and supplement existing College policies and procedures and protect individuals from retaliation who reasonably or otherwise in good faith report suspected or actual Covered Conduct.

The College has a responsibility to investigate, and, as appropriate, report to law or other governmental authorities, actual or suspected Covered Conduct. Examples of Covered Conduct include, but are not limited to:

  • Authorizing or receiving payment for hours not worked
  • Billing fraud, expense account mishandling, forgery
  • Embezzlement, theft or misappropriation of funds or other College assets
  • Improprieties in the approval and management of contracts
  • Inappropriate use or distribution of College resources
  • Practices that present substantial and specific danger to the health and safety to others
  • Wrongful use, disclosure or appropriation of an individual’s personal/private information such as identity theft or disclosure of a student’s education records (violation of FERPA)
  • Other threats to the College’s assets, unethical behavior or violation of law

This policy is distributed to all employees upon hire. A current policy is published in the Employee Handbook and is available to all employees and applicants on the Human Resources publicly facing website and posted on the bulletin board in Human Resources. Notification regarding the rights provided under Section 740 of the New York State Labor Law, which is annexed hereto as Appendix “A”, shall be included with such posting. Such posting shall in all events be conspicuous and in easily accessible and well-lighted places customarily frequented by employees and applicants for employment at the College.

All members of the Hartwick College community have a responsibility to report actual or suspected Covered Conduct, except as provided in Labor Law Section 740. Such reports will be handled with discretion and confidentiality to the extent allowed by the specific circumstances and the law. Generally, this means that whistleblower reports will only be shared with others on a need-to-know basis so that the College can investigate the claims and take appropriate action, including legal action and disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment if allegations are founded. Individuals who make intentionally false or malicious reports will be subject to discipline, up to and including separation from the College.

The Chief Human Resource Officer is the designated administrator of the Whistleblower Protections Policy who will receive and investigate (or oversee) complaints involving Covered Conduct.

To report actual or suspected Covered Conduct involving an employee of the College including staff, faculty and vice presidents, please contact: Suzanne Janitz, Chief Human Resource Officer, 607-431-4319 or via email at jantizs@hartwick.edu. Reports may also be made by sending a sealed envelope addressed to the Chief Human Resource Officer, One Hartwick Drive, Oneonta, NY 13820. An individual submitting a report should include his or her name and contact information. However, reports may also be made anonymously. Anonymous reports will be preliminarily investigated, to the extent possible, however, anonymous reports can limit the College’s ability to investigate and respond to the suspected violations.

To make a report involving the Chief Human Resource Officer, please contact: Dr. Margaret Drugovich, President, 607-431-4990 or via email at drugovichm@hartwick.edu. Reports may also be made by sending a sealed envelope addressed to the Hartwick College President, One Hartwick Drive, Oneonta, NY 13820. An individual submitting a report should include their name and contact information. However, reports may also be made anonymously. Anonymous reports will be preliminarily investigated, to the extent possible, however, anonymous reports can limit the College’s ability to investigate and respond to the suspected violations.

**Emergencies that impact immediate safety of an individual can be reported to the Office of Campus Safety at 607-431-4111 or reported to local law enforcement by calling 911.

Reports should include, to the extent possible, a detailed description of the Covered Conduct, the name(s) of the individual(s) involved, relevant dates, the identity of any witnesses, and any documentation supporting the report. Any person receiving a report under this policy shall be referred to herein as a “Recipient.”

Whenever a report has been received under this policy, the Recipient shall provide the reporter with timely acknowledgement of receipt of the report, whether submitted in person, electronically, or otherwise (unless the report has been received in such a manner that this is not possible). The report shall be reviewed by the Recipient with appropriate members of the College’s management, the Chief Human Resources Officer (if the Chief Human Resources is not the Recipient, as applicable and appropriate under the circumstances), and/or the Audit and Compliance Committee (the “Reviewing Authorities”) and legal counsel, as appropriate. Generally, the composition of the Reviewing Authorities shall be determined in light of the nature of the reported Covered Conduct and the individuals involved. The Reviewing Authorities shall undertake or cause to be undertaken such investigation as they deem appropriate, taking into consideration all relevant facts and circumstances.

The subject(s) of the report may be notified of the investigation, if the Reviewing Authorities deem it appropriate, unless prohibited by law.

The College expects full cooperation by all individuals in the investigation of a report. An employee’s failure to participate or otherwise cooperate in an investigation may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

When the investigation is concluded, the Reviewing Authorities will determine if any disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, and/or other corrective measures are required or otherwise warranted, which may include reporting the findings of the investigation to appropriate law or governmental authorities. Any person who is the subject of a report under this Policy shall not be present at or participate in any deliberation, voting or other decision-making on any matter relating to such report, provided that nothing shall prohibit the Reviewing Authorities from requesting that the person who is the subject of the report present information as background or answer questions prior to such decision-making.

If, when the investigation is concluded, it is not established that Covered Conduct has occurred, the investigation will be closed. Any reports of Covered Conduct that are made in bad faith may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment and/or other appropriate corrective measures.

If the identity of the person making the report is known, the Reviewing Authorities may inform him or her of the resolution, if the Reviewing Authorities determine that it is appropriate. If the Reviewing Authorities deem it appropriate and/or the circumstances so require, the subject(s) of the report may be notified of the resolution.

At the request of the Chairperson of the Audit and Compliance Committee, but not less than semi-annually, the Chief Human Resources Officer, shall inform the Committee of: (a) all new reports received and reports still open at the time of the Committee meeting, regardless of when made (including reports of minor matters or reports that are ultimately found to be without merit); (b) the results of all investigations of which the Committee has not been informed previously; and (c) the disposition of all reports of which the Committee has not been informed previously.

The Committee shall review, and have custody of, all reports, investigations, and resolutions. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the President (and any other Trustee who is an employee) may not participate in any board or committee deliberations or voting relating to administration of this Policy.

Individuals, including current and former employees and independent contractors, Trustees and volunteers, who in good faith or reasonably report or threaten to report actual or suspected Covered Conduct or who participate in any process to investigate actual or suspected Covered Conduct shall not be retaliated against in any manner. Retaliation under this policy includes but is not limited to:

• Adverse action taken by Hartwick or an agent of Hartwick to discharge, threaten, penalize, or in any other manner discriminate against any employee or former employee.

• Adverse employment actions or threats to take such adverse employment actions against an employee in the terms of conditions of employment including but not limited to discharge, suspension, or demotion.

• Actions or threats to take such actions that would adversely impact a former employee’s current or future employment.

• Threatening to contact or contacting United States immigration authorities or otherwise reporting or threatening to report an employee’s suspected citizenship or immigration status or the suspected citizenship or immigration status of an employee’s family or household member, to any federal, state, or local agency.

The Reviewing Authorities shall document any investigation or other action carried out under this policy, including the rationale for any recommended resolution and/or corrective action. All documentation relating to the investigation, including the initial report, and the resolution and/or corrective action taken shall remain in the College’s records in the Human Resources Department and/or Audit and Compliance Committee records for at least five years.

Appendix A

NOTICE OF WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS
under
NEW YORK STATE LABOR LAW SECTION 740

All “employees” (as defined below) have certain rights under New York State Labor Law Section 740, the complete text of which is set forth below:

For purposes of this section, unless the context specifically indicates otherwise:

(a) “Employee” means an individual who performs services for and under the control and direction of an employer for wages or other remuneration, including former employees, or natural persons employed as independent contractors to carry out work in furtherance of an employer’s business enterprise who are not themselves employers.

(b) “Employer” means any person, firm, partnership, institution, corporation, or association that employs one or more employees.

(c) “Law, rule or regulation” includes:

(i) any duly enacted federal, state or local statute or ordinance or executive order;

(ii) any rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to such statute or ordinance or executive order; or

(iii) any judicial or administrative decision, ruling or order.

(d) “Public body” includes the following:

(i) the United States Congress, any state legislature, or any elected local governmental body, or any member or employee thereof;

(ii) any federal, state, or local court, or any member or employee thereof, or any grand or petit jury;

(iii) any federal, state, or local regulatory, administrative, or public agency or authority, or instrumentality thereof;

(iv) any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, prosecutorial office, or police or peace officer;

(v) any federal, state or local department of an executive branch of government; or

(vi) any division, board, bureau, office, committee, or commission of any of the public bodies described in subparagraphs (i) through (v) of this paragraph.

(e) “Retaliatory action” means an adverse action taken by an employer or his or her agent to discharge, threaten, penalize, or in any other manner discriminate against any employee or former employee exercising his or her rights under this section, including

(i) adverse employment actions or threats to take such adverse employment actions against an employee in the terms of conditions of employment including but not limited to discharge, suspension, or demotion;

(ii) actions or threats to take such actions that would adversely impact a former employee’s current or future employment; or

(iii) threatening to contact or contacting United States immigration authorities or otherwise reporting or threatening to report an employee’s suspected citizenship or immigration status or the suspected citizenship or immigration status of an employee’s family or household member, as defined in subdivision two of section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law, to a federal, state, or local agency.

(f) “Supervisor” means any individual within an employer’s organization who has the authority to direct and control the work performance of the affected employee; or who has managerial authority to take corrective action regarding the violation of the law, rule or regulation of which the employee complains.

An employer shall not take any retaliatory action against an employee, whether or not within the scope of the employee’s job duties, because such employee does any of the following:

(a) discloses, or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer that the employee reasonably believes is in violation of law, rule or regulation or that the employee reasonably believes poses a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety;

(b) provides information to, or testifies before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into any such activity, policy or practice by such employer; or

(c) objects to, or refuses to participate in any such activity, policy or practice.

The protection against retaliatory action provided by paragraph (a) of subdivision two of this section pertaining to disclosure to a public body shall not apply to an employee who makes such disclosure to a public body unless the employee has made a good faith effort to notify his or her employer by bringing the activity, policy or practice to the attention of a supervisor of the employer and has afforded such employer a reasonable opportunity to correct such activity, policy or practice. Such employer notification shall not be required where:

(a) there is an imminent and serious danger to the public health or safety;

(b) the employee reasonably believes that reporting to the supervisor would result in a destruction of evidence or other concealment of the activity, policy or practice;

(c) such activity, policy or practice could reasonably be expected to lead to endangering the welfare of a minor;

(d) the employee reasonably believes that reporting to the supervisor would result in physical harm to the employee or any other person; or

(e) the employee reasonably believes that the supervisor is already aware of the activity, policy or practice and will not correct such activity, policy or practice.

(a) An employee who has been the subject of a retaliatory action in violation of this section may institute a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction for relief as set forth in subdivision five of this section within two years after the alleged retaliatory action was taken.

(b) Any action authorized by this section may be brought in the county in which the alleged retaliatory action occurred, in the county in which the complainant resides, or in the county in which the employer has its principal place of business. In any such action, the parties shall be entitled to a jury trial.

(c) It shall be a defense to any action brought pursuant to this section that the retaliatory action was predicated upon grounds other than the employee’s exercise of any rights protected by this section.

In any action brought pursuant to subdivision four of this section, the court may order relief as follows:

(a) an injunction to restrain continued violation of this section;

(b) the reinstatement of the employee to the same position held before the retaliatory action, or to an equivalent position, or

front pay in lieu thereof;

(c) the reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights;

(d) the compensation for lost wages, benefits and other remuneration;

(e) the payment by the employer of reasonable costs, disbursements, and attorney’s fees;

(f) a civil penalty of an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars; and/or

(g) the payment by the employer of punitive damages, if the violation was willful, malicious or wanton.

A court, in its discretion, may also order that reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs and disbursements be awarded to an employer if the court determines that an action brought by an employee under this section was without basis in law or in fact.

Nothing in this section shall be deemed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of any employee under any other law or regulation or under any collective bargaining agreement or employment contract.

Every employer shall inform employees of their protections, rights and obligations under this section, by posting a notice thereof. Such notices shall be posted conspicuously in easily accessible and well-lighted places customarily frequented by employees and applicants for employment.

Human Resources

Shineman Chapel House
Phone: 607-431-4315
Fax: 607-431-4329
humres@hartwick.edu