North Shore Community College (NSCC) has a responsibility for the stewardship of resources and the public and private support that enables it to pursue its educational mission. Laws, regulations, policies, and procedures strengthen and promote ethical practices and ethical treatment of the members of the College community and those who conduct business with the College. NSCC community members are protected against retaliation when they report violations of law. The two laws which protect whistleblowers within the NSCC community:

Massachusetts Whistleblower Act

Massachusetts False Claims Act

NSCC’s operating procedures and training are intended to detect and to prevent or deter improper activities. However, even the best systems of control cannot provide absolute safeguards against irregularities and fraud.  Intentional and unintentional violations of laws, regulations, policies, and procedures may occur and may constitute improper activities. The College has a responsibility to investigate and report allegations of suspected improper activities, and the actions taken by the College in regard to those activities.

What is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is a person who exposes suspected fraud, waste, abuse or other misconduct by an individual or organization. Often, a whistleblower is employed by, works with or has some other formal relationship with the alleged wrongdoer. However, that is not always the case. A whistleblower may be a vendor, subcontractor or a concerned member of the public. A person may be considered a whistleblower when they report the misconduct either internally or to an outside watchdog entity, such as the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Whistleblowers may be entitled to legal protections from retaliation under state or federal law, provided they follow certain procedures outlined in the whistleblower statutes.

What sort of issues would a Whistleblower report?

Individuals are encouraged to report suspected incidents of unlawful activities by employees while in their roles.

Massachusetts law prohibits public employers, including the state and all political subdivisions (such as cities, counties and public schools) from retaliating against employees for disclosing:

  • a violation of law or rule
  • mismanagement
  • a gross abuse of funds
  • an abuse of authority
  • a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety

to one of the following people or agencies:

  • a member or employee of the general assembly
  • the office of the ombudsman (for state employees only)
  • an official of the political subdivision or any state official (if not a state employee)
  • a person providing human resource management for the employer
  • any other public official or law enforcement agency.

How does the Massachusetts government define retaliation?

Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes, or threatens to punish, an employee for reporting fraud, waste or abuse, or for cooperating with an investigation of such misconduct. The misconduct may be perpetrated by the employer or another party with whom the employer has a business relationship. 

Retaliation may take the form of an adverse employment action by the employer, including demotion, suspension, denial of a promotion or raise, or firing. Employees may be entitled to legal protection from retaliation under state or federal law, provided they follow certain statutory procedures.

Retaliatory behavior in other contexts, such as an agency punishing a vendor or a contractor punishing a subcontractor, may be prohibited by state or federal law as well, depending on the circumstances.

State law protects whistleblowers from retaliation.

What is an adverse action?

The Department of Labor defines an adverse action as an action which would dissuade a reasonable employee from raising a concern about a possible violation or engaging in other related protected activity. Retaliation harms individual employees and can have a negative impact on overall employee morale. Because an adverse action can be subtle, such as excluding employees from important meetings, it may not always be easy to recognize.

Adverse actions may include actions such as:

  • Firing or laying off
  • Demoting
  • Denying overtime or promotion
  • Disciplining
  • Denying benefits
  • Failing to hire or rehire
  • Intimidation or harassment
  • Making threats
  • Reassignment to a less desirable position or actions affecting prospects for promotion (such as excluding an employee from training meetings)
  • Reducing or changing pay or hours
  • More subtle actions, such as isolating, ostracizing, mocking, or falsely accusing the employee of poor performance
  • Blacklisting (intentionally interfering with an employee’s ability to obtain future employment)
  • Constructive discharge (quitting when an employer makes working conditions intolerable due to the employee's protected activity)
  • Reporting or threatening to report an employee to the police or immigration authorities

How does the Massachusetts government define intimidation?

Intimidation is when someone makes a direct or indirect threat, harasses, or attempts to injure or harass a witness or potential witness. In Massachusetts, witness intimidation is a crime. Such behavior against a witness or potential witness in an OIG investigation is illegal. (M.G.L. c. 268, § 13B).

How to Report potential Whistleblower Retaliation

The role of the Whistleblower Protections Coordinator is to educate the NSCC community about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures, as well as employees’ rights and remedies if anyone retaliates against them for making a protected disclosure (i.e. Whistleblowing). The Coordinator is not a legal representative or advocate for employees or former employees; however, they can help explain the employee’s options.

NSCC's Whistleblower Protections Coordinator is:

Nick Royal
He, him, his
Title IX Coordinator, Affirmative Action and Compliance Officer

Reports to the Commonwealth can be made anonymously.  Please remember that they need enough information to investigate or take action. The more information you provide, the better able they are to take action. Giving them your name and contact information will enable them to reach you if they need to follow up with you about your complaint.

Massachusetts’ Public Fraud, Waste, and Abuse 24-hour Hotline - (800) 322-1323
Online reporting form


Whistleblowers must act in Good Faith

To be protected by the law, the employee must have a good faith, reasonable belief that the disclosure falls into one of the listed categories of information. Retaliating against an employee for making such a disclosure may expose the employer to civil liability for the employee’s lost wages and attorney’s fees. In addition, Massachusetts law makes it a crime for any person (such as a supervisor or human resources professional) to retaliate against an employee for making such a disclosure.

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