(b) To invoke the protections of this Section, an employee shall make a written report of improper governmental action to the appropriate auditing official. An employee who believes he or she has been retaliated against in violation of this Section must submit a written report to the auditing official within 60 days of gaining knowledge of the retaliatory action. If the auditing official is the individual doing the improper governmental action, then a report under this subsection may be submitted to any State's Attorney.
(c) Each auditing official shall establish written processes and procedures for managing complaints filed under this Section, and each auditing official shall investigate and dispose of reports of improper governmental action in accordance with these processes and procedures.
If an auditing official concludes that an improper governmental action has taken place or concludes that the relevant unit of local government, department, agency, or supervisory officials have hindered the auditing official's investigation into the report, the auditing official shall notify in writing the chief executive of the unit of local government and any other individual or entity the auditing official deems necessary in the circumstances.
(d) An auditing official may transfer a report of improper governmental action to another auditing official for investigation if an auditing official deems it appropriate, including, but not limited to, the appropriate State's Attorney.
(e) To the extent allowed by law, the identity of an employee reporting information about an improper governmental action shall be kept confidential unless the employee waives confidentiality in writing. Auditing officials may take reasonable measures to protect employees who reasonably believe they may be subject to bodily harm for reporting improper government action.
(f) The following remedies are available to employees subjected to adverse actions for reporting improper government action:
(1) Auditing officials may reinstate, reimburse for
(g) A person who engages in prohibited retaliatory action under subsection (a) is subject to the following penalties: a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $5,000, suspension without pay, demotion, discharge, civil or criminal prosecution, or any combination of these penalties, as appropriate.
(h) Every employee shall receive a written summary or a complete copy of this Section upon commencement of employment and at least once each year of employment. At the same time, the employee shall also receive a copy of the written processes and procedures for reporting improper governmental actions from the applicable auditing official.
(i) As used in this Section:
"Auditing official" means any elected, appointed, or hired individual, by whatever name, in a unit of local government whose duties are similar to, but not limited to, receiving, registering, and investigating complaints and information concerning misconduct, inefficiency, and waste within the unit of local government; investigating the performance of officers, employees, functions, and programs; and promoting economy, efficiency, effectiveness and integrity in the administration of the programs and operations of the municipality. If a unit of local government does not have an "auditing official", the "auditing official" shall be a State's Attorney of the county in which the unit of local government is located.
"Employee" means anyone employed by a unit of local government, whether in a permanent or temporary position, including full-time, part-time, and intermittent workers. "Employee" also includes members of appointed boards or commissions, whether or not paid. "Employee" also includes persons who have been terminated because of any report or complaint submitted under this Section.
"Improper governmental action" means any action by a unit of local government employee, an appointed member of a board, commission, or committee, or an elected official of the unit of local government that is undertaken in violation of a federal, State, or unit of local government law or rule; is an abuse of authority; violates the public's trust or expectation of his or her conduct; is of substantial and specific danger to the public's health or safety; or is a gross waste of public funds. The action need not be within the scope of the employee's, elected official's, board member's, commission member's, or committee member's official duties to be subject to a claim of "improper governmental action". "Improper governmental action" does not include a unit of local government personnel actions, including, but not limited to employee grievances, complaints, appointments, promotions, transfers, assignments, reassignments, reinstatements, restorations, reemployment, performance evaluations, reductions in pay, dismissals, suspensions, demotions, reprimands, or violations of collective bargaining agreements, except to the extent that the action amounts to retaliation.
"Retaliate", "retaliation", or "retaliatory action" means any adverse change in an employee's employment status or the terms and conditions of employment that results from an employee's protected activity under this Section. "Retaliatory action" includes, but is not limited to, denial of adequate staff to perform duties; frequent staff changes; frequent and undesirable office changes; refusal to assign meaningful work; unsubstantiated letters of reprimand or unsatisfactory performance evaluations; demotion; reduction in pay; denial of promotion; transfer or reassignment; suspension or dismissal; or other disciplinary action made because of an employee's protected activity under this Section.
(Source: P.A. 101-652, eff. 7-1-21; 102-813, eff. 5-13-22.)