3. Prior Reports.
Archie Mazmanian proceeds with his series on the Massachusetts Whistleblower Statute, discussing tactics an employee might use to ensure compliance.
A MA governmental employee who is not aware whether his/her MA governmental employer is in compliance with subsection (g) of the MA Whistleblower Statute could check: (1) bulletin/notice boards of the employer at its various facilities used to post notices required by federal/state laws for its employees; (2) the employer’s website that might include an employee/personnel handbook; (3) written materials periodically (annually) distributed to employees. (The Statute is available at http://www.mass.gov/legis/law/149-185 - download and print it out for reference. Also, refer to Parts I through III of this series.)
If such review/search does not reveal that the employer is in compliance, the employee might consider disclosing or threatening to disclose what appears to be a violation of law by the employer. The MA Whistleblower Statute would provide protection to the employee from retaliation by the employer affecting the employment relationship. But the employee might be concerned that any such retaliation might be so subtle and thus difficult to prove that this action might be too risky, sort of a Catch-22.
A less risky method might be by means of a public records request under the MA Public Records Law made by a concerned resident who is NOT a MA governmental employee. Such a request can be quite simple, focusing solely upon records of the MA governmental employer regarding its compliance with subsection (g) of the MA Whistleblower Statute. A response would be required within 10 days of the request. Any charges associated with the response should be quite minimal.
Compliance by the employer with subsection (g) is not complicated. See Part II of this series for suggestions. The employer could have notices contemplated by subsection (g) posted at appropriate bulletin/notices boards at its facilities, or at its website, or furnish copies directly to its employees with periodic distributions of other notices required by federal/state laws.
Transparency and accountability are required for good governance. In addition to the MA Public Records Law referenced above, there is the MA Open Meeting Law. While these laws serve the public well, certain conduct by public officials may not be readily subject thereto. Too often action by federal authorities is required to uncover alleged skullduggery by MA public officials rather than by MA public authorities.
Perhaps the MA Whistleblower Statute might serve to augment the MA Public Records and Open Meeting Laws. Combined they might be described as the “Political Trinity of Good Governance.” Sadly, the MA Whistleblower Statute does not seem to be in full force and effect in MA’s 350 municipalities and the many State and County offices/agencies included in the definition of “employer” in subsection (a)(3) of the Statute.
This Statute has been around since early 1994. Media in MA seem not to have paid much attention to the Statute. Why? One would think the Fourth Estate would be at the forefront with its investigative capabilities to explore the status of compliance with subsection (g) of the MA Whistleblower Statute by the many MA governmental employers. Isn’t it possible that if there had been timely compliance with the letter and spirit of the Statute by MA governmental employers, such might have served as a deterrent to some of the public scandals that have surfaced since 1994? It’s not too late for the media to follow up; letters to editors might serve to goose the media into journalistic action.
Maybe in due course whistling will be heard in the sunlight for all to hear.
[Part V of this series may serve as a wrap-up with potpourri commentary on the MA Whistleblower Statute.]
3. Prior Reports.
Prior reports may be founds as follows:
Report 1: http://charlesriverwhitegeeseblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/whistling-in-dark-part-i.html.
Report 2: http://charlesriverwhitegeeseblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/whistling-in-dark-part-ii.html.
Report 3: http://charlesriverwhitegeeseblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/whistling-in-dark-part-iii.html.