Making a Report

Whistleblowering

All City employees have the right to report Improper Government Action in good faith and, after reporting, to be free from retaliation. Employees can report in several different ways. 

Making A Report

Making a report in good faith means you have a reasonable basis in fact for reporting a concern. 

Improper governmental action is any action taken by a City employee that:

  • Results in a gross waste of public funds or resources or failure to collect a debt owed the City;
  • Creates a substantial risk to health or safety, or creates a specific risk of injury, illness or loss of property;
  • Violates a City, County, State or Federal law or rule; or,
  • Alters scientific or technical findings or prevents distribution of a scientific report without valid justification.

Improper governmental action excludes personnel actions. Examples include:

  • Promotions, hiring decisions, performance evaluations, work assignments and salary decisions;
  • Disciplinary decisions, suspensions, reinstatement, dismissals;
  • Violations of negotiated labor contracts, such as denial of overtime or scope of work violations; and,
  • Violations of civil service laws.

Don't know if your concern is an improper governmental action? Contact Ethics.

Employees with concerns about personnel matters should contact their departmental HR or the City Human Resources Department.

As a City employee you have a choice. You can report to:

  • The Seattle Ethics and Election Commission;
  • A supervisor or someone in your chain of command; or,
  • An agency that specifically handles your concern; for example, 
    • The Seattle Office of Civil Rights - All forms of discrimination;
    • Any law enforcement agency - Criminal acts, such as stealing City property;
    • Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) - police misconduct.

You can always contact Ethics to discuss where to make a report.  

You can:

  • Call, email or visit Ethics
  • Report online by clicking "Report an Improper Governmental Action" on the right hand side of this page.
  • Report inside your department:

NOTE: the Code does not require your report to be in writing. It is strongly recommended that, if you report inside your department, you make a record. You may want to email the person who took your report to record what and when you reported.

You don't need to make the decision alone. Whether you choose to report or not, it is important you have accurate information.

  • Contact Ethics for an independent and objective discussion about your concern. Unless there is imminent danger to a person or a City facility, or a legal requirement, we do not begin an investigation until you decide to make a report.
  • You can also seek advice from another trusted person outside the City if you are doing so in good faith to discuss whether you will make a report.