Bryant University requires all employees to observe high standards of business and personal ethics in the conduct of their duties and responsibilities. The University is committed to compliance with the laws and regulations to which it is subject. The University’s internal controls and operating procedures are intended to detect and prevent or deter illegal or improper activities. However, even the best systems of controls cannot provide absolute safeguards against irregularity. The University has a responsibility to investigate and report to appropriate parties allegations of suspected illegal or improper activities, and to protect those employees who, in good faith report these activities to the appropriate authority.
The University provides various mechanisms to assist and encourage employees to come forward with reports or concerns about suspected compliance issues. The University encourages this reporting of suspected wrongdoing on a timely basis.
Although the University encourages employees to report concerns to their immediate supervisor, there are times when an employee may feel it is necessary to report a concern of financial wrongdoing outside of the traditional reporting mechanism. The University has adopted a whistleblower policy for these instances. The whistleblower policy allows allegations to be made outside of the immediate area that the suspected employee is associated with and allows for a degree of confidentiality for the reporting person, if necessary.
The whistleblower policy governs only the reporting and investigation of suspected violations of law, external regulations or University policy of a financial nature or misuse of University resources. Such violations may include, but are not limited to, misappropriation or misuse of University resources; bribery; forgery or alteration of documents; fraudulent financial reporting; and authorizing or receiving compensation for goods not received, services not performed, or hours not worked. The policy is not intended for, and may not be used for, personal or employment grievances, general compensation and benefits complaints, opinion on policy, etc.
Employees who have knowledge of or information about misconduct in University operations should report the misconduct to the Associate Vice President of Human Resources. If the reporting person desires anonymity, the report should be in writing and delivered via regular mail, campus mail, or by hand, rather than via e-mail. Every attempt will be made to keep the whistleblower’s identity confidential, unless
- the person agrees to be identified;
- identification is necessary to allow University or law enforcement officials to investigate or respond effectively to the report;
- identification is required by law;
- or the person accused of violations is entitled to the information as a matter of legal rights in disciplinary proceedings.
Persons reporting misconduct should not attempt to investigate the matter independently, as doing so may compromise the integrity of an official investigation and adversely impact both the reporting person and the University.
The Associate Vice President of Human Resources will promptly and discreetly investigate any report of misconduct in University operations, in consultation with the President and Vice
President(s). However, such consultation(s) may be limited if necessary to preserve the integrity of the investigation. In addition, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources may seek the assistance of other University officials as appropriate. The Associate Vice President will report the results of their investigation and any recommendations for appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action to the University President. The President will consult with the appropriate senior administrators in the affected division before implementing corrective or disciplinary action. The imposition of discipline, if any, will be made in accordance with the University’s Employee Handbook, any applicable collective bargaining agreement (if the misconduct involves a union employee), and any other applicable University policies.
If the Associate Vice President of Human Resources or the University President is the subject of a report of misconduct in University operations, Bob Calabro, the chair of the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees may be contacted at (617) 530-6493. He will appoint individuals to substitute for the Associate Vice President or President in his or her investigative or decision-making role.
A confidential report will be made to the chair of the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees at the conclusion of every investigation.
Employees should be aware that the filing of the statement acknowledges their understanding that an investigation may commence. Reports under this policy should be made as soon as possible, preferably within six months of the occurrence.
An employee who in good faith reports a suspected violation of law or University policy will be protected from retaliation under this policy. Good faith means that the person had reasonable grounds to believe that the reported allegations are substantially true. A person who intentionally makes a false report may be subject to disciplinary or other action. The failure of a report to result in a finding of misconduct is not alone evidence that the report was intentionally false.
In addition, employees are protected by The Rhode Island Whistleblower’s Protection Act – R.I. Gen Laws 28-50. Specifically:
28-50-3: Protection – An employer shall not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against an employee regarding the employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges of employment (1) because the employee, or a person acting on behalf of the employee, reports or is about to report to a public body, verbally or in writing, a violation which the employee knows or reasonably believes has occurred or is about to occur, of a law or regulation or rule promulgated under the law of this state, a political subdivision of this state, or the United States, unless the employee knows or has reason to know that the report is false, or (2) because an employee is requested by a public body to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry held by that public body, or a court action.
28-50-4: Relief and damages – (a) A person who alleges a violation of this chapter may bring a civil action for appropriate injunctive relief, or actual damages or both within (3) years after the occurrence of the alleged violation of this chapter. (b) An action commenced pursuant to subsection (a) of this section may be brought in the superior court for the county where the alleged violation occurred, the county where the complainant resides or the county where the person against whom the civil complaint is filed resides or has their principal place of business. (c) As used in subsection (a) “damages” means damages for injury or loss caused by each violation of this chapter. (d) An employee shall show by clear and convincing evidence that he or she or a person acting on his or her behalf was about to report to a public body, verbally or in writing, a violation which the employee knew or reasonably believed had occurred or was about to occur of a law of this state, a political subdivision, or the United States.
The act provides for relief and damages for any adverse impact that may result from violation of Chapter 28-50-3 as noted above.