Yesterday, the Ohio House joined the Senate in unanimously passing a bill to set up a fraud tracking system for fraud reported to the Ohio Auditor and extend whistleblowing protections to those who report the fraud. State Representative Ross McGregor, the bill’s sponsor, has been pushing for a whistleblower protection law like this for several years.
The bill is expected to be signed by Governor Kasich. The measure is expected to reach the governor’s desk in the coming days.
The bill creates a toll-free hotline, website tool and a mailbox where people can anonymously report suspencted fraud by any public office or official. Public workers are also protected from retaliation or disciplinary action for reporting suspected misuse of public funds. The fraud hot line is (866)372-8264 and the website can be found at www.fraudohio.com
The House bill was amended in the Senate to add a requirement that the State Auditor keep a publicly viewable log of when complaints are received, a general description of the complaint, what agency the complaint is against and the status of the complaint. This additional measure was backed by various media groups and increases transparency.
Anti-retaliation laws are an important part of limiting fraud in government agencies and encourage whistleblowing. Absent existing protections, workers could face disciplinary action, including termination, for reporting wrong doing. In recent years, whistle blowing laws have expanded to include greater protections than ever before. Protections are expected to continue to expand. Employees should consult with an employment attorney prior to making a report of fraud or other wrongdoing to ensure the greatest protections available.
By: Justin A. Morocco