Frequently Asked Questions

Public Records

Whistleblower

What kinds of short-term actions is Berkeley taking to address its financial challenges?

UC Berkeley's leadership is committeed to strengthening the campus' financial position, as the strategic planning and analysis process continues. The Budget Call letter is a letter that the Chancellor sends every year to each of the Vice Chancellors, Vice Provosts and Deans to provide instructions around preparing the next year’s budget. Dated Feb. 2, 2016, the Budget Call Letter for Fiscal Year 2016-17 is provided here.  

Each division has a Divisional Finance Leader who develops and implements their division's annual budget process, advises their local leadership team on key budgetary decisions, and serves as an advocate for the needs and priorities of their division. To learn more about how the budget call letter instructions take shape in your unit, please contact your Divisional Finance Leader.

Who should I contact if I have a process server at my door, or if I know nothing about process service on campus?

          If a process server is “at your door” and you know nothing about service of process, and the document does not look familiar to you even if it may look legal, you are not obligated to accept it.  Refer the individual serving the document to Office of Legal Affairs (OLA).  Further, if you receive a phone call from an attorney’s office or a company handling service of process of subpoenas and summons and complaints, refer them to OLA at (510) 642-7122.

CLICK HERE for a list of campus records custodians

What is service of process?

          Service of process involves delivery of a special type of court order to an individual or company (“entity”).  Service of process can involve either a “Summons and Complaint” initiating a lawsuit, or a “Subpoena” requesting that business records be turned over and/or that personal testimony be given, or a personal appearance be made.  These are the types of service most likely encountered at UC Berkeley.  

What is required for service of process?

          Formal personal delivery of documents for both types of service (Summons and Complaint, Subpoenas) is required and important because these documents impose legal obligations on the person or entity they are delivered to.   Failure to comply with these court orders can result in penalties

What is service of a Summons and Complaint?

          Service of a Summons and Complaint is a process to compel someone to appear in court to defend him/her/itself against a lawsuit.  It involves presenting to the person or entity sued (the ‘defendant’) a Complaint in which the person suing (the ‘plaintiff’) describes its legal claims and should always be accompanied by a Summons, requiring a defendant to respond in court.  There are very specific requirements for serving a lawsuit on a defendant.  Plaintiffs frequently hire a professional process server to comply with these requirements.  

How should I respond to a Summons and Complaint delivered to my Campus office?

          If a process server attempts service of a Summons and Complaint on any University entity (The Regents, UCOP, UC Berkeley, or any campus department, academic or otherwise), s/he should be directed to Office of the General Counsel (OGC), 1111 Franklin Street, 8th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607-5200.   OGC is the only entity authorized to accept service of a Summons and Complaint on behalf of The Regents or a UC entity.

          If an individual is named and being served, the law requires that the Summons and Complaint be delivered directly to that person.  Colleagues or managers may not accept personal service of process on behalf of a fellow employee.  

         If any doubt about personal delivery of a Summons and Complaint, contact OLA (510-642-7122) immediately.    

What is a Subpoena?

          A subpoena is a legal document that commands a person or entity to testify as a witness at a specified time and place (at a deposition, trial, or other hearing), and/or to produce documents or other tangible objects in a legal proceeding.  Subpoenas are time-sensitive with court-imposed deadlines

Who can issue a Subpoena?

          It can be issued by any attorney, a self-represented individual, or a service hired by an attorney, using court-supplied forms. Subpoenas can be issued in criminal cases, in private (“civil”) lawsuits; they may also be issued by government agencies conducting their own investigations and proceedings, administrative or criminal (e.g., IRS, SEC, FBI, even issued by the President of the United States on behalf of the military).

If a Subpoena is issued, does it mean the University is being sued?

          Not necessarily—subpoenas are generally issued to persons or entities who are not parties to the lawsuit, known as “third parties.”  The University typically is served with “third party” subpoenas.   

Who may accept service of a Subpoena?

          The typical subpoena issued and served on the University is a subpoena for records and may be addressed to the “Custodian of Records” or to a department with a physical location listed (e.g., Registrar's Office).  This type of subpoena should be personally served, and accepted by the appropriate custodian.  It may also be accepted by others in a campus department with authority over those records.     

 [CLICK HERE for a list of campus records custodians]

If the Subpoena is directed to me, personally, can someone else accept service on my behalf?

          A subpoena to a particular named person rather than the University can only be accepted by that person.  However, there are three important exceptions to this requirement:

    1. If the subpoenaed person is a peace officer, subpoenaed to testify about an event or transaction h/she witnessed or investigated as a peace officer, the subpoena may be served by delivering two (2) copies to the immediate superior or an agent designated to receive subpoenas, who must then deliver a copy to the peace officer (Gov. Code § 68097.1(a)).[1]  
    2. If the subpoenaed person is a state employee, subpoenaed to testify about something s/he has gained expertise in during the course of his/her duties, a subpoena may be served by delivering two (2) copies to the employee’s immediate superior or an agent designated to receive subpoenas.[2]  State employees who are being subpoenaed for their everyday, percipient knowledge must be personally served.  For example, if a campus employee in Human Resources is subpoenaed to testify about specialized procedures for reporting, investigating, and resolving employment disputes, that employee may be served through his/her superior.  However, if that same employee is subpoenaed to testify about a slip-and-fall accident that s/he witnessed on campus, s/he must be personally served.
    3. Not recommended, but a criminal subpoena may be served by mail if the person served is willing to acknowledge to the person who served the subpoena that s/he received the subpoena, and is willing to identify him/herself by date of birth, driver’s license number, or DMV identification card.[3]   Again, it is not recommended that a person supply his/her personally identifiable information to third parties.

          Aside from these exceptions, the law requires personal service of every subpoena.   Service in less formal ways, such as by fax or mail, should not be accepted, as the parties in litigation have the right to expect UC Berkeley to follow legal formalities. 

______________________________

[1] In criminal cases, the superior or agent may refuse to accept service if unable to deliver a copy to the peace officer in time to comply with the subpoena, or if service is made within five (5) days of the hearing and they are not reasonably certain they can deliver it to the peace officer.  Pen.Code § 1328(a)(3)(d) and (e).

[2] Gov. Code § 68097.1(b).

[3] Pen.Code § 1328d.

CLICK HERE  for a list of campus records custodians

Are there different types of Subpoenas?

Yes – there are three kinds of subpoenas.  

i.    A Witness Subpoena is a court order requiring a person to appear in court on a certain date and testify as a witness, usually in a trial.  

ii.   A Subpoena Duces Tecum (meaning ‘subpoena for production of evidence’) is a court order requiring the person subpoenaed to produce books, documents or other records under his or her control at a specified time/place in a court hearing or a deposition. Oftentimes, compliance can be achieved by mailing, or sending records via e-mail, or providing the records at a specified date without an in-person appearance if arranged in advance. 

iii.   A Deposition Subpoena is a court order requiring a person who is not a party to a lawsuit to provide copies of business records and/or appear at a deposition to answer questions asked by one party in a lawsuit.   A Deposition Subpoena differs from the Subpoena DucesTecum in that the documents and testimony requested are part of the “discovery process” before trial and may not be used in an actual court hearing. 

Are there special considerations when Student, Employee or Consumer records are subpoenaed?

          Yes.  There are special rules that apply when these kinds of records are subpoenaed which requires the party issuing the subpoena to notify the individual (or his/her/its attorney) whose records are sought before the records can be disclosed.  The University is also required to give reasonable notice to an individual whose records are requested before complying with the subpoena's request(s).  Certain campus departments are familiar with these special rules, e.g., the Registrar's Office, University Health Services/Tang Center, and have procedures in place to handle these types of subpoena requests, but if you have questions about these rules, contact OLA (510-642-7122).  

Do I always need to consult with OLA when preparing a response?

          No, but it depends on the complexity and sensitivity of the documents, the testimony which one is asked to provide (if any), and the nature of the proceedings.

          However, the Office of Legal Affairs must be consulted if:

A)   UC Berkeley, a campus department, and/or a campus employee in his/her official capacity are named as either a plaintiff or a defendant.  Under these circumstances, OLA will make arrangements with either Office of the General Counsel or outside counsel for representation, if appropriate.

B)   The subpoena seeks individual student, employee or customer/consumer records, medical or mental health information, or other information that appears highly sensitive or raises privacy concerns.  However, campus offices that regularly receive subpoenas for certain types of records and that have received guidance from campus counsel in the past may respond without consulting OLA if they are confident they are aware of the applicable rules and the subpoena appears valid (e.g., Registrar’s Office, UHS/Tang Center, Campus Shared Services-Employee Verification/Academic Personnel Records).

C)  The subpoena calls for deposition (in-person) testimony of staff or faculty.

          You are encouraged to contact OLA if you have any questions or concerns about responding to a subpoena, whether in regards to manner of service, or records being requested.  

What are the deadlines for responding to a Subpoena?

          An individual served with a subpoena duces tecum or deposition subpoena is normally given a reasonable time to respond.  A valid subpoena will provide, in accordance with the statute, a response date and location.  Any question about validity, contact OLA (510-642-7122).  

a.         For a subpoena duces tecum issued in a civil action, the records should be provided either within 15 days after the receipt of the subpoena, or within the time agreed upon by the party serving the subpoena and the custodian of records or witness.  (Evid. Code § 1560(b)(2) and (b)(3).)

b.         For a deposition subpoena issued in a civil action, the University has either 15 days after the service, or 20 days after issuance of the deposition subpoena, whichever date is later, in which to respond.  (Code Civ. Proc. § 2020.410(c).)

c.         For a subpoena duces tecum in a criminal action, the response must be provided five (5) days after receipt of the subpoena or within the time agreed upon by the party serving the subpoena and the custodian of records or witness.  (Evid. Code § 1560(b)(1) and (b)(3).) 

What if I have no records to produce as described in the Subpoena?

          A named individual (responder) is only obligated to produce documents which exist and are already under his/her custody and control.  You are not required to create documents that do not exist, or to procure documents not in your or your department’s possession or control.  If the documents called for do not exist or are not in the possession or control of the individual subpoenaed, the responder should notify the subpoenaing party of this fact in writing.  Subpoenas may attach an "Affidavit of No Records" that can be completed by the custodian if in fact no responsive records exist under the custodian's control.  If such an affidavit of no records is not attached to the subpoena and you need to submit it, contact OLA for a form of affidavit that can be signed and submitted to the requesting party or to the court declaring that no records exist that are not responsive to the subpoena's request.

Can I negotiate the scope of the documents requested in a Subpoena?

          It is possible to negotiate the scope of records to be released in response to a subpoena.  Oftentimes, a party issuing a subpoena (“requestor”) is on a “fishing expedition” with no idea what documents exist or how files are organized.  The requestor may have no interest in spending time reviewing extraneous documents, and may be satisfied, after a conversation, with something less than what is called for in the initial request.  However, be very careful not to negotiate production of anything beyond what is called for in the subpoena, unless you are certain that the additional documents are public records.  Consult OLA for guidance regarding the scope of a subpoena’s requests. 

What about documents that may be subject to non-disclosure?

          In most cases, the University is obligated to comply with a subpoena duces tecum or deposition subpoena served upon it.  However, in certain circumstances a particular document may be subject to a privilege which does not permit the University to disclose without first obtaining permission of the holder of the privilege, or if that privilege has somehow been waived.  The most common privileges to arise in a University setting are the physician-patient privilege, the psychotherapist-patient privilege, and the attorney-client privilege.  Failure to assert a privilege not to disclose confidential information could subject the University to liability for invasion of privacy or breach of a confidential relationship.  OLA should be consulted about what privilege might apply, and/or whether a privilege applies. 

Will I get paid for giving testimony required by a subpoena?

          When a full-time employee in a career position is served with a subpoena which compels the employee's presence as a witness and the subpoena relates to the employee’s University employment, the employee shall be granted leave with pay for actual time spent at the proceeding and for related travel.

          A part-time employee in a career position shall be granted leave with pay for time spent at the proceeding and for related travel which occurs during the employee's regularly scheduled working hours. 

What if I am required to turn over original documents?

          In most cases, it is not required that original documents be turned over in response to a subpoena.  Technically, a subpoena requires production of original documents, but often the requestor will be satisfied with copies, and this can clearly be negotiated with the requestor.  If originals are required, a University employee usually goes with the originals to the place of production to ensure that documents are not lost or misplaced; or the requestor comes to the University office where the records reside and inspects/copies them on-site.  A University employee should be present at all times during the copying and inspection of original documents.

What about the cost of producing the records that comply with the Subpoena?

The subpoenaing party is responsible for costs incurred by the University in responding to a subpoena, as follows:  

Witness Fees In Civil Case

If the witness is required to personally accompany the documents requested in a subpoena duces tecum for a deposition or trial in a civil action, the witness is entitled to all normal allowable daily fees (currently $35.00) plus mileage actually traveled (currently $0.20 per mile), both ways, at the prevailing rate, and any additional costs incurred.  (Gov. Code § 68093.) 

Witness Fees In Criminal Cases

When a witness is required to personally accompany documents requested by a subpoena duces tecum in a criminal case, the witness is entitled to any fees normally paid by that court.

Fees For Production Of Business Records  

a.  The University is entitled to all reasonable costs incurred for producing business records in response to a subpoena duces tecum.  “Reasonable costs” include, but are not limited to:

i)     reasonable clerical costs incurred in locating and making records available to be billed at the rate of $24 per hour per person ($6 per quarter hour or fraction thereof); actual costs, if any, charged the witness by a “third person” for retrieval and return of records held by such third person (for the University, “third person” does not include another University office or department); 

ii)    ten cents ($0.10) per page for standard reproduction of documents of a size, 8-1/2 x 14 inches or less; 

iii)   twenty cents ($0.20) per page for copying documents from microfilm; 

iv)    actual costs for the reproduction of oversize documents or the reproduction of documents requiring special processing which are made in response to a subpoena;  

v)     actual costs, if any, charged to the University by a “third person” for the retrieval and return of records held by that “third person”; 

vi)   The custodian is not allowed to charge for computer costs of retrieving data; 

vii)  When personal appearance of the custodian is waived and the custodian elects to produce original records, rather than reproductions, the sole fee for such records “shall not exceed fifteen dollars ($15), plus actual costs, if any, charged to the witness by a third person and return of records held offsite by the third person."  For UC, “third person” does not include another UC office or department. 

 b.  The requestor is not required to pay production costs prior to delivery of the records; however, the University may demand payment of costs at the time subpoenaed records are delivered.  Until such payment is made, the University is under no obligation to deliver the records.  

c.  If the requesting party demands it, the University must furnish an itemized statement describing the actions taken to justify the costs.

d.  If the subpoena duces tecum is subsequently withdrawn, quashed, or modified by a party other than the University, the University is entitled to reimbursement for reproduction costs incurred up to the time the University is notified of such an action.

Contact OLA if you have any questions regarding fees/charges for producing records.  

What are the penalties if you ignore a subpoena, or don’t comply?

          Failure to respond to a subpoena is punishable as contempt by either the court or agency issuing the subpoena.  Punishment may include monetary sanctions (even imprisonment although extremely unlikely).  Generally, a hearing will be held where the party charged with noncompliance has an opportunity to explain its side of the story, and the court or agency has broad discretion to determine an appropriate punishment given the circumstances presented.  In most cases in a contempt proceeding, the court determines the appropriateness of withholding any documents under a claim of privilege.  In such cases, the outcome is more likely to be an order to produce, coupled with an award of attorneys’ fees to the party that had to initiate the contempt proceedings.

CLICK HERE for a list of campus records custodians

Who can submit a PRA request?

Any person may submit a PRA request.

How do I make a records request?

There is no specific form that must be used to make a request. A request can be made orally or in writing, but written requests are strongly encouraged (preferable via e-mail) to help reduce confusion about the records requested. Requests should be submitted to the PRA Coordinator. Please provide a detailed description of the records you seek.

Please visit: Guidelines for Access to Public Records

Can I drop in to inspect the records that I want?

The volume of requests received by the University does not permit instant response to records requests. There is no service for on-demand, same day public records inspections; nor does the law require such a service. Identification and collection of potentially responsive records are only some of the steps involved in responding to requests. The collected records must be reviewed to ensure that they are in fact responsive to the request and to assess whether they are subject to redaction to protect the privacy rights of others and consistent with applicable legal privileges and exemptions. Each of the steps in the process takes time. When records requests are available for release, we will contact you.

Is the University required to create records that do not exist in order to comply with a public request?

No. In response to a public request, we are only responsible for providing existing documents and records that are maintained by the University.

I think UC should create a report that will have the information that I want. Can I request this under the Public Records Act?

The University releases non-exempt, existing records in response to requests. The Public Records Act does not require that the University answer questions or create new records.

What is the difference between a Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and a California Public Records Act (PRA) request?

FOIA generally does not apply to the University, but the PRA is modeled on FOIA. If someone makes a request to the University under FOIA, it is treated as a request under the PRA.

How do I request for a copy of the Statement of Economic Interest (Form 700)?

If you would like to obtain a copy of the Form 700 of a UC public official, you may e-mail your request to pra@ucop.edu. You may also obtain a Form 700 by dialing the Office of the General Counsel at 510-987-9800. Press "0" to speak with a receptionist, and ask to obtain a Form 700 from the Form 700 assistant. Finally, you may request a Form 700 if you enter UC Office of the President at 1111 Franklin Street in Oakland, CA during business hours by using the courtesy lobby phone to call the Office of the General Counsel. Appointments are not required to obtain copies of Form 700's, but emailing or calling in advance of coming to the building will expedite the response to your request.

It's been 10 days – where are my records?

The University has 10 days to "determine whether the request…seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and reasons therefore." (California Government Code Section 6253(c)) This means that agencies are supposed to notify the requester within 10 days if they have requested deliverable public records or exempt material or some combination of the two. The law, however, does not require production within 10 days. The University may extend period to make this determination for up to 24 days if there is a need to communicate with field offices, examine voluminous records, communicate with others who have an interest in the records, or construct computer reports. The law requires that production be made in a “reasonable” amount of time, based upon the volume of the records requested and the necessary review process.

What should our department do if we receive a PRA or IPA request?

Contact the PRA Coordinator immediately, as records requests must be acknowledged within prescribed legal timelines.

Please visit: Guidelines for Public Records Act Requests Received by Office of Record

What can our department charge for information copied and staff time involved in compiling any materials requested under a PRA request?

Unfortunately, the University can only charge the direct cost of duplication (scanned or paper copy). Staff time for research, retrieval, and review is not considered as part of the direct cost of duplication.

The University charges for computer programming time required to produce a record that requires data extraction or manipulation.

Should our department allow a member of the public to look through our files if they make a public records request?

No. As a general rule, members of the public should not be allowed to simply look into our files because there may be materials in the files that should not be disclosed. Suggest the requester to submit a request to the PRA Coordinator for further assistance.

Is it legal to discard documents or other evidence when a request is made for the information, or when you think a request is about to be made?

No, it is not legal. While you do have the right to dispose of documents in the ordinary course of business,  if it's consistent with your policies, you do not have the right to dispose of documents after a request is made  (even if it would otherwise be consistent with your disposition policies) as it would be in violation of the  California Public Records Act.

What Is the Purpose of the Whistleblower Policy?

The Whistleblower Policy is intended to encourage employees and others to make good faith reports of suspected fraud, corruption, or other improper governmental activity, or health and safety concerns within the university to appropriate university officials and to describe the process that will be followed by the university in evaluating and investigating such reports. The focus of the policy is on the reporting of "Improper Governmental Activity" the investigation of which is coordinated by the Administrative Policies & Compliance Office. Other matters that get reported to the compliance office, for example, suspected campus policy violations or various workplace concerns, are generally referred to the management of the responsible department.

What Is Improper Governmental Activity?

Improper Governmental Activity (IGA) is defined in the University's Whistleblower Policy as "Any activity by the University or by a University employee that is undertaken in the performance of the employee's official duties, whether or not that action is within the scope of his or her employment, and that (1) is in violation of any State or federal law or regulation, including, but not limited to, corruption, malfeasance, bribery, theft of government property, fraudulent claims, fraud, coercion, conversion, malicious prosecution, misuse of government property, or willful omission to perform duty, or (2) is economically wasteful, or involves gross misconduct, gross incompetence, or gross inefficiency." This broad definition is derived from State law. Not all instances of improper conduct will constitute IGA. For example, most violations of University policy will not amount to IGA unless the policy violation is also a violation of federal or State law.

How Can I Report Suspected Improper Governmental Activity?

Make a Report at universityofcalifornia.edu/hotline or Call the University Wide *Whistleblower Hotline: (800) 403-4744.

*The Whistleblower Hotline is Independently Operated to Ensure Confidentiality.

If you are an employee, you may also report the matter to your supervisor or other department official, or to one of the following offices:

  • Academic Personnel Office
  • Audit & Advisory Services
  • Campus Human Resources
  • Dean - Graduate Division
  • Environment, Health & Safety
  • Health System Office of Compliance & Privacy
  • Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
  • UCPD

However you choose to make your report, be prepared to provide sufficient factual information, including the names of individuals you suspect are engaged in wrongdoing, as well as when, where, how, and how long the wrongdoing occurred.

How Can I Report Threats to Health/Safety?

Any imminent threat to the health or safety of employees, students, or the public should be reported to UC Berkeley Police by dialing 911 from a campus phone or 2‑3333 from any other phone. If you are concerned that a workplace situation may escalate and result in violence, you can contact UC Berkeley Police or one of UC Berkeley’s human resources offices. Concerns you have about actual and potential environmental hazards can be reported to UC Berkeley Environment, Health & Safety by calling (510) 642-3073.

What Is a Whistleblower?

The term "Whistleblower" is used generally to refer to anyone who reports suspected Improper Governmental Activity, including those who make such reports as part of their job responsibilities, employees, students, or members of the general public. For the purposes of the California Whistleblower Protection Act and the UC Whistleblower Protection Policy, only those reporting suspected Improper Governmental Activity are entitled to the special protections afforded to whistleblowers. A whistleblower is not someone who wishes to file a complaint to seek redress for some adverse employment or academic action/condition who happens to assert some suspected impropriety by the person responsible for the adverse action/condition.

How Do I Contest an Improper Employment Action or Academic Decision

If you have been adversely affected by an employment action or academic decision that you believe violates State or federal law or is otherwise improper, you should contact your department's personnel office if you wish to seek a reversal or modification of the employment action or academic decision. Employees who seek to have such an action reversed/modified and wish to file a formal complaint or grievance can contact the appropriate human resources office (Campus Human Resources, Health System Human Resources, or the Academic Personnel Office) for more information; students can contact the Dean of Students Office. Such complaints cannot be filed anonymously and are not investigated as reports of Improper Governmental Activity under the Whistleblower Policy.

How Do I Report Other Types of Suspected Wrongdoing?

Policy violations and other types of wrongdoing that may not qualify as Improper Governmental Activity should also be reported. If you are an employee, you can report such suspected wrongdoing to a supervisor or manager, provided you do not suspect the supervisor or manager is involved in the wrongdoing. You can also report them directly to the human resources office within your department, or to one of the following offices:

  • Academic Personnel Office
  • Audit & Advisory Services
  • Campus Human Resources
  • Dean - Graduate Division
  • Environment, Health & Safety
  • Health System Office of Compliance & Privacy
  • Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
  • UCP
Can I Report Suspected Impropriety Anonymously?

Yes. Reports of Improper Governmental Activity can be made anonymously by calling the University Whistleblower Hotline. However, anonymous reports are often difficult to investigate if the caller has not provided enough information. Also, anonymous callers cannot purport to represent a larger group (e.g., all the employees in a department) when such representation cannot be verified.

Note that a confidential report is not the same thing as an anonymous one, and it is up to you to decide whether or not to make your report anonymously. Be aware that certain types of reports (e.g., those involving workplace conflicts) often cannot be thoroughly investigated unless the University has a way to contact or interview the involved parties. If the person making the report is a percipient witness to the wrongdoing (where independent verification of the allegations is not practical), the person accused may be provided the report of the wrongdoing, in order that he/she has an opportunity to respond.

What Other Options Do I Have for Reporting Improper Governmental Activity?

In addition to the Hotline, individuals may report suspected Improper Governmental Activity to the Bureau of the State Auditor (800-952-5665) or to the California Attorney General (800-952-5225).

What Happens After a Report of Suspected Improper Governmental Activity Is Made?

A report made to a supervisor or another department official may be investigated by that official if it is within his/her area of responsibility. A report may be referred to the Locally Designated Official or it may be referred to another office deemed appropriate to look into the matter. The office will determine whether the facts asserted amount to Improper Governmental Activity and whether they are sufficiently detailed and credible to warrant an inquiry. If the allegations of wrongdoing are confirmed, appropriate corrective action will be taken. If the report was made via the Whistleblower Hotline, UC Berkeley responds to the caller with a brief summary of the outcome of the inquiry, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. For personnel privacy reasons, UC Berkeley does not disclose what specific disciplinary actions may have been taken against an employee.

Will My Report of Improper Governmental Activity Be Kept Confidential?

The University's Whistleblower Policy states that "To the extent possible within the limitations of law and policy and the need to conduct a competent investigation, confidentiality of whistleblowers will be maintained. Whistleblowers should be cautioned that their identity may become known for reasons outside of the control of the investigators or University administrators."

How Am I Protected from Retaliation If I Report Suspected Improper Governmental Activity?

State law and the University's Whistleblower Protection Policy explicitly prohibits retaliation against employees who report suspected Improper Governmental Activity. In order to reduce the likelihood that retaliation will occur, UC Berkeley shares reports of wrongdoing only with those who need to see it as part of the inquiry into the matter. Ordinarily, the names of those reporting suspected Improper Governmental Activity are kept confidential.

What Can I Do If I Have Been Retaliated Against for Reporting Suspected Improper Governmental Activity?

An employee who believes he/she has been retaliated against may be eligible to file a grievance with the appropriate human resources office (Campus Human Resources, Health System Human Resources, or the Academic Personnel Office). Individuals interested in filing such a grievance should find out what the applicable filing deadline is (in many cases 30 days from when the employee learned of the retaliatory employment action). An employee or applicant for employment may also be eligible to file a Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint within 12 months of when the employee learned of the retaliation. An employee may file both a retaliation complaint and a grievance - in that event the complaint and the grievance are both considered in a single fact-finding process.

What Should a Supervisor Do upon Receiving a Report of Suspected Wrongdoing?

If you are in a supervisory role and receive a report of suspected Improper Governmental Activity, if the report was made orally, you should normally document it in writing. You should exercise appropriate judgment in deciding whether the matter can be reviewed under your authority or should be referred to a higher level of management or to the Locally Designated Official. Consulting with supervisors, the Locally Designated Official or other appropriate University management is encouraged and the exercise of judgment should err on the side of upward reporting.

What Must a Supervisor Report to the Locally Designated Official?

All employees in supervisory roles who receive a report of suspected Improper Governmental Activity shall report the matter to the Locally Designated Official if it: is the result of a significant internal control or policy deficiency that is likely to exist at other units at UC Berkeley or across the University system; is likely to receive media or other public attention; involves the misuse of University resources or creates exposure to a liability in potentially significant amounts; involves allegations or events that have a significant possibility of being the result of a criminal act (e.g., disappearance of cash); involves a significant threat to the health and safety of employees and/or the public; or is judged to be significant or sensitive for other reasons.

 

What Are the Responsibilities of the Locally Designated Official (LDO)?

The University's Whistleblower Policy and Whistleblower Protection Policy state that the Chancellor of each campus shall appoint a Locally Designated Official who is responsible for responding to reports of suspected Improper Governmental Activity and for evaluating formal complaints made by individuals asserting that employment actions were taken against them in retaliation for having reported suspected Improper Governmental Activity

What Are the Responsibilities of the Retaliation Complaint Officer (RCO)?

The University's Whistleblower Protection Policy provides that the LDO may appoint one or more individuals or a standing body to serve as Retaliation Complaint Officer(s) (RCOs) to oversee the investigation of retaliation complaints. An RCO may delegate conduct of the investigation, including any fact finding, to another person. The Campus Investigations Coordinator currently functions as an RCO and may appoint other RCOs as necessary. 

What Is the Investigations Work Group?

The University's Whistleblower Policy designates that each campus have an Investigations Work Group, chaired by the Locally Designated Official, to coordinate investigations into allegations of Improper Governmental Activity. It includes the LDO, The Director of Audit and Advisory Services, the Office of Campus Counsel and  the Campus Investigations Coordinator.

How Are Employees Notified About the Ways to Report Suspected Improper Governmental Activity?

State law requires that every year, on or about July 1st, the University must send an e-mail notice to all employees with a UC BERKELEY e-mail address, informing them of how to report suspected Improper Governmental Activity. The sending of this annual message is coordinated by the Locally Designated Official which also publishes a poster containing the same information entitled "How to Blow the Whistle on Suspected Improper Activities" that departments can post on bulletin boards.

Who Manages the UC BERKELEY Compliance Hotline and How Does It Work?

The hotline is a toll free number (800-403-4744), that anyone can call to report suspected Improper Governmental Activity at UC BERKELEY. It is staffed 24 hours/day, 365 days/year by an independent company which takes down the information provided by callers and forwards that information to the University. Callers have the option of providing their names or remaining anonymous. A caller is given a report identification number by the hotline operator. With that number he/she can call the hotline back at a later date to be read any response the University may have posted. A response may notify the caller of the outcome of the inquiry or may ask the caller to provide additional information/clarification as needed.

The Locally Designated Official coordinates inquiries into suspected wrongdoing reported to the hotline and posts the responses to callers.

The poster entitled "How to Blow the Whistle on Suspected Improper Activities" can be printed and posted on departmental bulletin boards to inform employees about the hotline.

What Are the Main Laws, Policies, and Entities Relevant to Improper Governmental Activity?

California Government Code Section 8547- 8547.12 (also known as the "California Whistleblower Protection Act") defines Improper Governmental Activity and prohibits retaliation against employees who report it. California Health & Safety Code Section 1278.5 relates to retaliation against healthcare workers who have reported issues relating to care, services, or conditions of a health facility.

The University's Whistleblower Policy and Whistleblower Protection Policy implement the State laws for the University of California's campuses and laboratories.

The Fair Employment & Housing Act prohibits discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. It requires employers to provide certain accommodations for employees and job applicants with disabilities, medical conditions, and family medical leave needs. It also requires employers to provide leaves of up to four months to employees disabled because of pregnancy or childbirth. See the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing for additional information.

The Office of Civil Rights enforces provision against retaliation in the context of federally sponsored research.