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Substitute House Bill No. 5487

Public Act No. 02-91

AN ACT CONCERNING STATE EMPLOYEE AND CONTRACTOR WHISTLEBLOWING COMPLAINTS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 4-61dd of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) Any person having knowledge of any matter involving corruption, unethical practices, violation of state laws or regulations, mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority or danger to the public safety occurring in any state department or agency or any quasi-public agency, as defined in section 1-120, as amended, or any person having knowledge of any matter involving corruption, violation of state or federal laws or regulations, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority or danger to the public safety occurring in any large state contract, may transmit all facts and information in his possession concerning such matter to the Auditors of Public Accounts. The Auditors of Public Accounts shall review such matter and report their findings and any recommendations to the Attorney General. Upon receiving such a report, the Attorney General shall make such investigation as he deems proper. At the request of the Attorney General or on their own initiative, the auditors shall assist in the investigation. The Attorney General shall have power to summon witnesses, require the production of any necessary books, papers or other documents and administer oaths to witnesses, where necessary, for the purpose of investigation. Upon the conclusion of his investigation, the Attorney General shall where necessary, report his findings to the Governor, or in matters involving criminal activity, to the Chief State's Attorney. The Auditors of Public Accounts and the Attorney General shall not, after receipt of any information from a person under the provisions of this section, disclose the identity of such person without his consent unless the Auditors of Public Accounts or the Attorney General determine that such disclosure is unavoidable during the course of the investigation.

(b) (1) No state officer or employee, as defined in section 4-141, no quasi-public agency officer or employee, no officer or employee of a large state contractor and no appointing authority shall take or threaten to take any personnel action against any state or quasi-public agency employee or any employee of a large state contractor in retaliation for such employee's disclosure of information to the Auditors of Public Accounts or the Attorney General under the provisions of subsection (a) of this section. [A state or quasi-public agency employee alleging that such action has been threatened or taken]

(2) If a state or quasi-public agency employee or an employee of a large state contractor alleges that a personnel action has been threatened or taken in retaliation for such employee's disclosure of information to the Auditors of Public Accounts or the Attorney General under the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the employee may notify the Attorney General, who shall investigate pursuant to subsection (a) of this section. After the conclusion of such investigation, the Attorney General, the employee or the employee's attorney may file a complaint concerning such personnel action with the Chief Human Rights Referee designated under section 46a-57, as amended. The Chief Human Rights Referee shall assign the complaint to a human rights referee appointed under said section 46a-57, who shall conduct a hearing and issue a decision concerning whether the officer or employee taking or threatening to take the personnel action violated any provision of this section. If the human rights referee finds such a violation, the referee may award the aggrieved employee reinstatement to the employee's former position, back pay and reestablishment of any employee benefits to which the employee would otherwise have been eligible if such violation had not occurred, reasonable attorneys' fees, and any other damages. For the purposes of this subsection, such human rights referee shall act as an independent hearing officer. The decision of a human rights referee under this subsection may be appealed by any person who was a party at such hearing, in accordance with the provisions of section 4-183.

(3) The Chief Human Rights Referee shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, establishing the procedure for filing complaints and noticing and conducting hearings under subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(4) As an alternative to the provisions of subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection (A) a state or quasi-public agency employee who alleges that a personnel action has been threatened or taken may file an appeal within thirty days of knowledge of the specific incident giving rise to such claim with the Employees' Review Board under section 5-202, or, in the case of a state or quasi-public agency employee covered by a collective bargaining contract, in accordance with the procedure provided by such contract, [. An] or (B) an employee of a large state contractor alleging that such action has been threatened or taken may, after exhausting all available administrative remedies, bring a civil action in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c) of section 31-51m.

(5) In any proceeding under subdivision (2), (3) or (4) of this subsection concerning a personnel action taken or threatened against any state or quasi-public agency employee or any employee of a large state contractor, which personnel action occurs within one year after the employee first transmits facts and information concerning a matter under subsection (a) of this section to the Auditors of Public Accounts or the Attorney General, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the personnel action is in retaliation for the action taken by the employee under subsection (a) of this section.

(c) Any employee of a state or quasi-public agency or large state contractor, who is found to have knowingly and maliciously made false charges under subsection (a) of this section shall be subject to disciplinary action by his appointing authority up to and including dismissal. In the case of a state or quasi-public agency employee, such action shall be subject to appeal to the Employees' Review Board in accordance with section 5-202, or in the case of state or quasi-public agency employees included in collective bargaining contracts, the procedure provided by such contracts.

(d) On or before September first, annually, the Auditors of Public Accounts shall submit to the clerk of each house of the General Assembly a report indicating the number of matters for which facts and information were transmitted to the auditors pursuant to this section during the preceding state fiscal year and the disposition of each such matter.

(e) Each contract between a state or quasi-public agency and a large state contractor shall provide that, if an officer, employee or appointing authority of a large state contractor takes or threatens to take any personnel action against any employee of the contractor in retaliation for such employee's disclosure of information to the Auditors of Public Accounts or the Attorney General under the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the contractor shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars for each offense, up to a maximum of twenty per cent of the value of the contract. Each violation shall be a separate and distinct offense and in the case of a continuing violation each calendar day's continuance of the violation shall be deemed to be a separate and distinct offense. The executive head of the state or quasi-public agency may request the Attorney General to bring a civil action in the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford to seek imposition and recovery of such civil penalty.

(f) Each large state contractor shall post a notice of the provisions of this section relating to large state contractors in a conspicuous place which is readily available for viewing by the employees of the contractor.

(g) As used in this section:

(1) "Large state contract" means a contract between an entity and a state or quasi-public agency, having a value of five million dollars or more, except for a contract for the construction, alteration or repair of any public building or public work; and

(2) "Large state contractor" means an entity that has entered into a large state contract with a state or quasi-public agency.

Approved June 3, 2002