New Law Designates Court Rule Violations as Improper Governmental Activity, Protects Court Employees From Retaliation
|California State Auditor |
The Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, superior courts and Administrative Office of the Courts are now included in the California Whistleblower Protection Act "state agency" definition. Among other ramifications, the revised definition ensures that the protections of the Act extend to court employees. Under the Act, state employees who make complaints about improper governmental activities are protected from retaliation. Retaliation includes intimidation, the denial of appointment or promotion, a threat of adverse action, a poor performance evaluation, involuntary transfer, or any form of disciplinary action.
Court employees can report improper governmental activities to the State Auditor using the Whistleblower Hotline, by mail, or using an electronic form at the State Auditor website. Under a variety of state statutes, rules, and regulations, state employees who fail to report misconduct may themselves be guilty of misconduct and subject to discipline, job termination, or criminal prosecution. Employee conduct standards include Article 20 of the California Constitution, California Rules of Court rules 10.16, 10.17, and 10.670 and the Court Employee Code of Ethics.
Court employees may be subject to criminal prosecution under several statutes, including Penal Code sections 470(c) and 470(d), which prohibit altering, corrupting, or falsifying documents. Failing to report a co-worker engaged in criminal conduct may expose a court employee to the same criminal prosecution as an accessory, for aiding and abetting, conspiracy, or under the natural and probable consequences doctrine.
For the complete California Whistleblower Protection Act, click here.