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Whistleblower Protections

Guilford College encourages good faith reporting of suspected wrongful conduct by protecting individuals from retaliation when they report action or suspected action that they believe to be illegal, fraudulent, unethical or in violation of College policy.

Purpose/Reason for Policy:  This policy is designed to enable all members of the College community to report concerns about possible misconduct committed by an employee of the College with reassurance that, as a reporter, they will be protected from retaliation if they act in good faith.  

Scope/Covered Persons:  All members of the Guilford College community

Definitions:

Whistleblower - A member of the Guilford College community who reports an activity to one or more of the parties specified in this policy that the reporter believes to be illegal, dishonest, unethical, or otherwise improper.

Wrongful Conduct – A serious violation of College policies or ethical standards; a violation of applicable state and federal laws; or the use of College property, resources, or authority for personal gain or other non College-related purpose except as provided under Guilford policy.  Examples of conduct that is wrongful include, but are not limited to:

  • Billing fraud, expense account abuse, kickbacks, or forgery.
  • Improprieties in the approval, management, administration or assignment of contracts.
  • Embezzlement, theft or misappropriation of funds, securities, supplies, equipment, goods, inventory or any other asset.
  • Authorizing or making payment for goods not delivered or services not performed, or receiving payment or other consideration for goods not delivered or services not performed.
  • Authorizing or receiving payments for hours not worked.
  • Receiving tangible personal benefit from a third party as a direct consequence of performance of duties as an employee of the College.
  • Inappropriate use or distribution of College resources.
  • Pursuing or obtaining a benefit in violation of the College’s Conflict of Interest Policy.
  • Illegal activities involving the wrongful use, disclosure, or appropriation of an individual’s personal information, such as identity theft, disclosure of a student’s education records in violation of FERPA, or misuse of personal financial or other private information.
  • Other activities that violate the law or College policy.
  • Protected disclosure – Communication about actual or suspected wrongful conduct on the part of a Guilford College employee, student, volunteer, agent, or contractor based on a good faith and reasonable belief that the conduct has both occurred and is wrongful under applicable law and/or College policy. 

Retaliation – Adverse action against an individual because a protected disclosure was made by
that person or because the individual has participated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing involving a protected disclosure.  

The Policy:  

Members of the Guilford College community are expected to maintain ethical standards in the performance of their responsibilities. These standards are particularly critical in the business and financial operations of the College. To this end, the College conducts regular audits, and has established effective internal controls to detect and prevent or deter improper activity. 

It is also important that members of the community are aware of the ways in which they can report conduct or suspected conduct  that is illegal, fraudulent or in violation of College policies or procedures or ethical standards. Early identification and resolution of ethical issues that might arise is critical to maintaining sound business, including but not limited to sound financial practices.

Members of the College community are encouraged to come forward in good faith with reports or concerns about suspected violations of College policies, illegal practices, or unethical behavior.  An individual who makes a report in good faith will be protected from retaliation of any kind. Any individual with a question about the propriety of any practice under the College's policies and procedures should seek guidance from their supervisor or the College official who has responsibility for overseeing compliance with the particular policy or procedure.

This policy does not protect individuals who make unsubstantiated, malicious, or false allegations of wrongful conduct, and it cannot be used to avoid employment or academic consequences that would otherwise occur.

Roles and Responsibilities: 

Employees and students are encouraged to present facts and express concerns about suspected wrongdoing in a timely manner to allow the College to promptly investigate claims.

Immediately upon receipt of a report/concern of suspected improper activities, the College official who received the report should notify the Chief of Staff. 

Compliance: 

Anyone who intentionally retaliates against a whistleblower for reporting wrongful conduct in good faith is subject to sanctions, to be determined in accordance with established procedures for staff and faculty. Allegations that are not substantiated, yet are made in good faith, are not subject to corrective action.

Employees who knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth give false information or knowingly make a false report of wrongful conduct or a subsequent false report of retaliation will be subject to corrective action in accordance with established procedures for staff and faculty.  Whistleblowers will be presumed to be acting in good faith unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Students who knowingly make false allegations will be subject to student conduct procedures.

Other related Policies, Regulations, Statutes and Documents: 

Procedures: 

Employees should share their questions, concerns, suggestions, or complaints with a supervisor, a member of the President’s Cabinet, or the Director of Human Resources. Students should share their questions, concerns, suggestions, or complaints with a trusted College official. In many cases the individual’s supervisor or department head is in the best position to address an area of concern. If an individual is not comfortable speaking with the supervisor/department head, or is not satisfied with the supervisor’s/department head’s response, individuals should take their concerns to one of the College officials listed below who will investigate and/or address the concern as appropriate.

  • Director of Human Resources, King Hall 101D, 336-316-2135
  • Provost and Academic Dean, Founders Hall 201H, 336-316-2205
  • Chief of Staff, Alumni House, 336-316-2275
  • Director of Public Safety, Bauman L010C, 336-316-2907

Immediately upon receipt of a report/concern of suspected improper activities, the College official who received the report should notify the Chief of Staff.  The Chief of Staff will then conduct an investigation (or direct that an investigation be conducted), reach a conclusion on whether the improper activity occurred, and proceed to take whatever action, including whatever sanctions are deemed appropriate.  If the complaint involves the Chief of Staff, the official who received the report should notify the Director of Human Resources or a Cabinet member.

The Chief of Staff will ensure that a report is prepared summarizing the suspected improper activity, the investigation, the conclusion, and the actions taken, and the Chief of Staff will retain such record for the purpose of documenting resolution of reported alleged improper activity.

The College will make every effort to protect whistleblowers against any form of retaliation. It cannot guarantee confidentiality, however, and there is no such thing as "unofficial" or "off the record" reporting. The College will keep the whistleblower's identity confidential, unless (1) the person agrees to be identified; (2) identification is necessary to allow the College or law enforcement officials to investigate or respond effectively to the report; or (3) identification is required by law.

Approval Authority: The President of Guilford College 

Responsible Office: Erin Brownlee Dell, Chief Of Staff, Alumni House, 336-316-2275, edell@guilford.edu

Revision History: New policy, approved by President’s Cabinet  3-4-2020