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UNM Policy Office

MSC05 3357
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
Scholes Hall
114 A and B

Phone: (505) 277-6531

Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 2200: Reporting Suspected Misconduct and Whistleblower Protection from Retaliation

Date Originally Issued: 10-26-1994
Revised: 01-15-2007, 05-10-2017

Authorized by RPM 3.1 (“Responsibilities of the President”)

Process Owner: University President

1. General

The University of New Mexico is committed to the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct. To achieve this goal, the University relies on each member of the University community to comply with the laws, regulations, University policies, and ethical and professional standards that relate to them. The University also relies on members of the University community to conduct themselves with honesty, integrity, and good judgment.

Members of the University community are expected, and in some cases (such as child abuse) required, to report suspected misconduct that comes to their attention. Persons who report suspected misconduct, in good faith, are afforded whistleblower protection from retaliation by the University for such reporting. 

2. Definitions

For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  • “Members of the University community” is to be construed broadly and includes, but is not limited to, employees, students, board members acting in their UNM affiliation, independent contractors, visitors, service providers, and volunteers.
  • "Employee” means all faculty, staff, and student employees.
  • “Suspected misconduct” means conduct or actions that a reporter, in good faith, believes to be substantive violations of laws, regulations, University policies, ethical or professional standards, or believes to be an act of retaliation. This may include, for example:
    • fraud
    • theft or embezzlement
    • inappropriate supervisory directive
    • bullying
    • time abuse
    • inappropriate disclosure of confidential information.
    • For more information on types of misconduct and the responsible departments on campus, see the Compliance and Ethics Reporting Contacts on the Main Campus Compliance Office website.
  • “Whistleblowers” and “reporters” mean members of the University community who report suspected misconduct to one or more of the parties specified in this policy or to a regulatory or licensing agency.
  • “Retaliation” means threatening or taking a discriminatory or adverse action against a whistleblower for submitting reports of suspected misconduct or cooperating with or participating in an investigation (see Section 6).
  • “Good faith” means that a reasonable basis exists given the evidence available to the whistleblower.
  • “Investigation” means any formalized University procedure used to address suspected misconduct.  Not all matters result in investigative reports.

3. Ombuds/Dispute Resolution Services

Individuals are encouraged to consult with the staff, faculty, or graduate student Ombuds/Dispute Resolution Office, as appropriate, to discuss concerns or suspected misconduct, and to learn of official policies and procedures, where to go to file a formal complaint, and how to notify University officials of a problem. The Ombuds offices can also assist in facilitating constructive dialogue.

Speaking with an Ombuds office about a problem does not constitute formal notice to the University for the purpose of initiating mandatory reporting requirements, and the information reported will not be shared with any other office. 

4. Reporting Suspected Misconduct

The University encourages individuals to report suspected misconduct by one of the following methods: 

  • To a direct supervisor or the next level supervisor, unless there is knowledge or a belief that the supervisor is involved in the suspected misconduct. Supervisors should consult with responsible departments for guidance in handling allegations of misconduct.
  • To the appropriate department with jurisdiction over the issue (see the lists of responsible departments on the Main Campus Compliance Office and HSC Compliance Office websites).  
  • To the UNM Compliance Hotline, anonymously if preferred, at 1-888-899-6092 or on-line at: unm.ethicspoint.com.

The Main Campus and HSC Compliance Offices facilitate the compliance hotline and on-line reporting system. Suspected misconduct by one of the Compliance Offices should be reported to either the University President’s Office or the Chancellor for Health Sciences.

Various policies in the University Administrative Policy Manual, Faculty Handbook, and Pathfinder provide reporting and investigation processes that may be accessed by any member of the University community. This policy does not supersede those reporting and investigation mechanisms, but rather provides an additional reporting mechanism that may be accessed, if desired and appropriate.

The University may be required to forward certain reports of suspected misconduct to outside agencies.

4.1. Reporting to the Office of Equal Opportunity

The Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) is charged with ensuring compliance with civil rights laws, regulations, policies, and procedures, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  OEO is the home to UNM’s Title IX Coordinator and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator.  All civil rights complaints, reports of sexual misconduct, or civil rights retaliation matters should be reported to OEO at 505-277-5251 or by visiting OEO’s office at 609 Buena Vista NE on the Albuquerque campus.

4.2. Reporting Abuse or Neglect of a Minor

Every member of the University community has an obligation under New Mexico law to report any instances or suspected instances of the abuse or neglect of a minor. Anyone who knows, suspects, or receives information indicating that a minor has been abused or neglected, or who has other concerns about the safety of minors, should contact UNM Police or the State of New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department at 1-855-333-SAFE (7233).

5. Confidentiality and Anonymity

Reports of suspected misconduct will be kept confidential to the extent possible, consistent with the need to conduct an adequate investigation and the University’s legal obligations. Sometimes the reporter’s identity may become obvious to others due to the nature of the allegation.  In addition, the reporter’s identity may be disclosed on a need-to-know basis:

  • to University employees assigned to investigate the matter;
  • to University administrators and Regents conducting an investigation or effectuating remedies;
  • to any law enforcement agency investigating the matter;
  • if required pursuant to a subpoena or by law;
  • if necessary to defend a grievance;
  • if required by due process in connection with disciplinary action against the person accused; or
  • as required by law.

The applicable administrator will notify the reporter, in advance to the extent possible, when the reporter’s identity will be disclosed under any of the above circumstances. 

Making an anonymous report may limit a reporter’s protection from retaliation and the University’s ability to conduct a full and thorough investigation.

6. Whistleblower Protection Against Retaliation

In accordance with the State Whistleblower Protection Act, the University is committed to protecting members of the University community who report suspected misconduct or who cooperate with or participate in an investigation. Anyone who, in good faith, reports suspected misconduct will be protected from retaliation as a result of such reporting, regardless of whether or not an investigation confirms the misconduct. No member of the University community shall discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, discriminate against, or otherwise sanction or discipline the whistleblower for reporting what the whistleblower sincerely believes to be suspected misconduct. This whistleblower protection extends to individuals who provide information in relation to an investigation (see Section 9).

No member of the University community may interfere with or try to interfere with the right of an individual to report suspected misconduct or cooperate with or participate in an investigation. Any member of the University community who interferes with or tries to interfere with the right of another individual reporting suspected misconduct or cooperating with or participating in an investigation may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination or expulsion. 

Reporting suspected misconduct does not exempt an employee from legitimate personnel action taken during the normal course of business, or exempt a student from legitimate academic action.

If whistleblowers believe that retaliation or interference was threatened, attempted, or occurred, they may file a complaint through channels identified in section 4 of this policy.

7. Investigation of Suspected Misconduct

When suspected misconduct is reported through the UNM Compliance Hotline, the allegations will be referred to the responsible department with jurisdiction over the alleged misconduct, which will acknowledge receipt of the allegation of suspected misconduct to the reporter and conduct a preliminary review to determine whether the issue warrants a more in-depth investigation. Some matters reported are solved quickly and informally, without an investigation.  If an in-depth investigation is warranted, the responsible department will conduct it in accordance with that department’s investigation guidelines, which must be posted publicly for transparency. For those departments without their own investigation guidelines, contact the UNM Main Campus or HSC Compliance Office.  A joint investigation may be conducted when more than one University department or office has jurisdiction over the issues raised in the report.

Individuals tasked with investigating suspected misconduct must do so fairly, objectively, and thoroughly. They should identify the exact issue and policies that are in question of being violated, interview key individuals and witnesses, emphasize the need for cooperation and discretion, and summarize the facts and findings in a report.

If a reporter believes in good faith that there is a conflict of interest between the investigating body and the issues being investigated or individuals involved or participating in the investigation, the Main Campus or HSC Compliance Office should be contacted for consultation. If the Main Campus or HSC Compliance Office determines that a bona fide conflict of interest exists, it will help coordinate an alternative investigative process.

8. Report of Investigation

Investigative reports are completed and distributed to the appropriate administrator who will effectuate remedies. Reporters and the appropriate Compliance Office will be notified when the investigation is completed, when applicable, and in some cases will receive a copy of the report.  Some investigation processes are legally mandated or otherwise prescribed and may not comply with such notification procedures.

If, after investigation, it is determined that illegal activity appears to have occurred, the findings will be reported to the applicable audit and law enforcement agencies, and, as appropriate, to regulatory agencies, in coordination with the University Counsel and, when needed, other University administrators. Certain departments that conduct investigations are required to report directly to outside agencies. Other departments are not required to do so (such as the Office of Equal Opportunity) and their investigation results will be deemed in compliance with this provision upon completion of the investigation.

9. Cooperation with Investigations

All members of the University community are expected to cooperate and not interfere with investigations. Individuals who hinder, obstruct, or otherwise interfere with an investigation may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination from employment or expulsion from the University.  See Section 6.

10. False Information or False Accusations

Any member of the University community who knowingly gives false or materially inaccurate information; knowingly makes a false report of suspected misconduct or a subsequent false report of retaliation; or who knowingly provides false answers or information in response to an ongoing investigation may be subject to administrative action by the University including disciplinary action, up to and including termination from employment or expulsion from the University.

11. Disciplinary Action

All disciplinary action taken against a member of the University community that is based on the findings of an investigation will be issued in accordance with applicable policies and standards, such as the University Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual, the Faculty Handbook, the Pathfinder, or collective bargaining agreements.

12. References

UNM Compliance Hotline (1-888-899-6092 or on-line at unm.ethicspoint.com)

UNM Main Campus Compliance Office

UNM HSC Compliance Office

List of Responsible Departments

Office of Equal Opportunity

Ombuds/Dispute Resolution Office – staff

Ombuds/Dispute Resolution Office – faculty

Ombuds/Dispute Resolution Office – graduate student

RPM 2.18 (“Guiding Principles”)

UAP 2205 (“Minors on Campus”)

UAP 2240 (“Respectful Campus”)

UAP 2500 (“Acceptable Computer Use”)

UAP 2720 (“Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, and Affirmative Action”)

UAP 2740 (“Sexual Violence and Sexual Misconduct”)

UAP 2745 (“Clery Act Compliance”)

UAP 4000 (“Allowable and Unallowable Expenditures”)

UAP 7205 (“Dishonest or Fraudulent Activities”)

Faculty Handbook Policy E40 (“Research Misconduct”)