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Whistleblower Protection

What is the Whistleblower Protection Ordinance?

The purpose of this ordinance is to protect City government employees who act as whistleblowers from retaliation. If you feel an action has been taken, as a direct result of a complaint filed with the Whistleblower Hotline, please submit a retaliation complaint with the City Auditor.

How to Submit a Retaliation Complaint

  1. The alleged retaliation must have occurred within 180 days of your complaint.
  2. Mail or email ALL of the following information to the City Auditor:
    • Your name
    • Your address, phone, and email address
    • Name of the person directly responsible for the alleged retaliation
    • Date and place of the alleged retaliation
    • Nature of the alleged retaliation
    • A detailed description of what happened that made you feel it was retaliation
    • Copies of documents that support your claim
    • Name of any witnesses
    • What would you like done to correct the situation
    • Any other relevant information
    • Your signature
    • Date of your complaint

Send your complaint to:
City Auditor
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 4th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

The following communications do not constitute a retaliation complaint and will not be investigated:

  • Oral allegations
  • Anonymous communications
  • Courtesy copies of correspondence or a complaint filed with others
  • Inquiries that seek advice or information only
  • Pre-complaint consultations and informal resolution activities
  • Alleged retaliation events that occurred more than 180 days before the complaint

What happens next?

We will conduct a thorough analysis of each complaint and decide on the most appropriate action. Your confidentiality is important to us, and in order to protect it, we do not provide reports regarding retaliation complaints. If keeping your complaint confidential it important to you, please do not discuss it with others, including family, friends and coworkers, as it may jeopardize your confidentiality.

Learn more about the Whistleblower Protection Ordinance

Below is the entire Whistleblower Protection Ordinance as of May 2018.

Chapter 2.38 – Oakland Whistleblower Ordinance

2.38.010 – Title and purpose.

This Chapter shall be known as the Whistleblower Ordinance. The purpose of this Chapter is to protect all City government employees who act as whistleblowers from retaliation. (Ord. 12890 § 1, 2008)

2.38.020 – “Whistleblower” defined.

“Whistleblower” is defined as an officer or employee who reports or otherwise brings to the attention of the City Auditor any information which, if true, would constitute one of the following: a work-related violation by a City officer or employee of any law or regulation; fraud, waste or mismanagement of City assets or resources; gross abuse of authority; a specific and substantial danger to public health or safety due to an act or omission of a City official or employee; or use of a City office, position or resources for personal gain. (Ord. 12890 § 2, 2008)

2.38.030 – Whistleblower identity.

To the extent permitted by law, the identity of anyone reporting information to the City Auditor about an improper governmental action shall be treated as confidential unless the employee waives his or her confidentiality in writing. (Ord. 12890 § 3, 2008)

2.38.040 – Retaliation prohibited.

No officer or employee of the City of Oakland shall use or threaten to use any official authority or influence to restrain or prevent any other person who is acting in good faith and upon reasonable belief as a whistleblower.

No officer or employee of the City of Oakland shall use or threaten to use any official authority or influence to cause any adverse employment action as a reprisal against a City officer or employee who acts as a whistleblower in good faith and with reasonable belief that improper conduct has occurred. (Ord. 12890 § 4, 2008)

2.38.050 – Administrative complaint of retaliation.

Any officer or employee who believes that he or she has been subject to an adverse employment action as a result of being a whistleblower may file a complaint of retaliation with the City Auditor within one hundred and eighty (180) days of the alleged misconduct. The City Auditor shall thereupon investigate the complaint. If the Office of the City Auditor is named in the complaint, the complaint shall be directed to the City Attorney for investigation. The investigation of a retaliation complaint should be completed in eight (8) weeks or less, absent extraordinary circumstances. Any reports regarding retaliation are confidential and not subject to disclosure. (Ord. 12890 § 5, 2008)

2.38.060 – “Retaliation” defined.

“Retaliation” is defined as any adverse employment action, including discharge, discipline or demotion. (Ord. 12890 § 6, 2008)

2.38.070 – Adverse employment action defined.

An adverse employment action requires a showing that the retaliatory action had a detrimental and substantial effect on the terms, conditions, or privileges of a complainant’s employment or required the complainant to work in a discriminatorily hostile or abusive work environment. A change that is merely contrary to a complainant’s interests or liking is insufficient. (Ord. 12890 § 7, 2008)

2.38.080 – “City” defined.

“City” is defined as the City of Oakland, its agencies, departments, boards and commissions. (Ord. 12890 § 8, 2008)

2.38.090 – Burden of establishing retaliation.

In order to establish retaliation, a complainant must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the complainant’s engagement in activity protected in Section 2.38.020 was a substantial motivating factor for the adverse employment action. The supervisor or manager may rebut this claim if he or she demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she would have taken the same employment action irrespective of the complainant’s participation in protected activity. (Ord. 12890 § 9, 2008)

2.38.100 – Discipline.

Any manager, supervisor or employee of the City of Oakland who knowingly engages in conduct prohibited by this Chapter shall be disciplined, up to and including discharge. (Ord. 12890 § 10, 2008)

2.38.110 – Civil penalties.

Any manager, supervisor or employee of the City of Oakland who believes that he or she has been the subject of retaliation in violation of this Chapter may bring a civil action against the City officer or employee who committed the violation. The civil penalty for such a violation shall not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000.00). Such action must be filed no later than one year after the date the manager, supervisor or employee files a complaint of retaliation with the City. (Ord. 12890 § 11, 2008)


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