July 8, 2010
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sacramento, CA 95816
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) respectfully requests your signature of Senate Bill (SB) 650 – an important measure that will provide University of California (UC) employees the same whistleblower protections and legal standing currently provided to California State University (CSU) employees.
Unlike all other state employees, UC employees can only seek damages in court when the UC fails to reach a decision regarding the complaint within the time limits established by the Regents. This standard denies access to justice and fails to evaluate whether the decision made by UC was just. The UC is the judge and jury of its own defense. Under the current law, those who allege retaliation have no rights to be heard by an impartial third party.
Last year CUCFA supported SB 219. However, you chose to veto it. The concern raised in your veto message was regarding inconsistency between whistleblower protections for UC and CSU employees and how this would discourage UC employees from exhausting their administrative remedies before filing claims in the superior court. SB 650 addresses this concern by providing UC whistleblowers the exact same whistleblower protections in existing law granted to CSU employees (Government Code Section 8547.12).
This issue highlighted in a July 2008 California Supreme Court decision (Miklosy v. Regents of the University of California). The ruling uncovered an oversight made by the Legislature when the Act was amended in 2001 to provide more rights for whistleblowers to have their retaliation complaints heard by an impartial third party.
SB 650 corrects this oversight in statute, and thereby protects UC workers from unfair retaliation for rightfully reporting waste, fraud, or abuse. CUCFA urges you to sign this important bill into law.
Vice President for External Relations, Council of UC Faculty Associations
and Professor of Physics, UC Davis