New whistleblower policy adopted Tuesday

By: Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger reporter
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Lincoln City Council unanimously adopted Tuesday night an administrative policy to prevent retaliation against whistleblowers. The policy is intended to prevent retaliation against any city employee who reports a problem. “The policy encourages all employees to report to their supervisor, the city manager, City Council, the city attorney or human resources any violations of the law they might witness such as embezzlement, theft or lower-level offenses,” Lincoln City Attorney Jon Hobbs said. “The policy provides that city staff is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who has filed a complaint or who is part of an investigation or testifying in court. Anyone who violates this policy would be subject to disciplinary action up to termination.” In a city report, city clerk Pat Avila said the city needed to address this issue because it was brought up in the auditors’ management letter to the city dated April 20. “One deficiency noted under ‘Fraud Reporting Procedures’ was the city is currently using the state’s whistleblower policy,” Avila said. “The auditors noted that the city should adopt its own Anti-Retaliation/Whistleblower policy, including fraud reporting procedures and add it to the personnel manual. The auditors’ report recommended these procedures should include a discussion of what types of activities constitute fraud or contracting improprieties, how an employee should report such suspected fraud or contracting improprieties and to whom or where an employee should report such activities, including reporting procedures if an employee’s supervisor or a member of senior management is suspected of these activities. Lincoln Councilman Paul Joiner said he “wants to make sure promotions are fair and based on merit later on” if an employee reports a violation. Councilman Tom Cosgrove said he wants city staff conducting performance reviews to make sure all information is accurate.