OLYMPIA…Those who report illegal or unethical activities at state agencies earned further protections today under a bill sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, and signed into law by Gov. Inslee.
Substitute Senate Bill 5374 clarifies that the state auditor may review cases involving allegations of improper communication between an agency and an administrative law judge, providing additional oversight and review of whistleblower complaints.
“So many times we see unethical and illegal behavior allowed to continue in state agencies because employees feel exposed if they complain,” explained Becker. “If an employee is willing to speak up, the law should support them and provide all the help and protection it can. We can’t just leave them twisting in the wind.”
SSB 5374 was inspired by a situation that happened a few years ago in the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner where an administrative law judge used the whistleblower statute to complain to the state auditor about being disciplined and subsequently fired for refusing to decide cases in accordance with the agency head’s policies.
The state auditor refused to hear the claim because he said the auditor’s office did not have jurisdiction over the matter. SSB 5374 expressly grants the auditor’s office the ability to review such complaints, providing another layer of protection for employees who rightly report agency wrongdoings.