South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) promotes compliance with federal and state laws to combat fraud, waste and abuse in government programs. All employees, including management, must be aware of applicable legal requirements and whistleblower protections.
Applicable laws are summarized in Appendix A of Policy A.302. Protections granted under S.C. Code Title 8 Chapter 27: “Employment Protection for Reports of Violations of State or Federal Law or Regulation” are summarized below:
What constitutes wrongdoing?
- According to S.C. Code Section 8-27-10, "wrongdoing" means action by a public body and/or employee which results in substantial abuse, misuse, destruction, or loss of substantial public funds or public resources.
- "Wrongdoing" also includes an allegation that a public employee has intentionally violated federal or state statutory law or regulations or other political subdivision ordinances or regulations or a code of ethics, which violation is not merely technical or of a minimum nature.
How can I report suspected wrongdoing?
- Call the DHEC Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline at 803-896-0650 (toll-free at 1-866-206-5202); or
- Complete the “Fraud and Abuse Hotline Complaint/Allegation” form and submitting to Fraud_Hotline@dhec.sc.gov.
What benefits or protections are available to me if I report alleged wrongdoing?
- DHEC may discipline any direct line supervisory employee who retaliates against you for having filed a good faith report alleging wrongdoing.
- If your report results in a saving of any public money, you are eligible for a limited monetary reward up to 25% of the estimated net savings resulting from the first year of implementation of your report (not to exceed $2,000) as determined by the Director of the Department of Administration.
- if you are dismissed, suspended from employment, or demoted, or receive a decrease in compensation, within one year after having timely reported an alleged wrongdoing under S.C. Code Section 8-27-10, you may institute a nonjury civil action against the employing public body for:
- Reinstatement to his former position;
- Lost wages;
- Actual damages not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars;
- Reasonable attorney fees as determined by the court, but this award of attorney fees may not exceed ten thousand dollars for any trial and five thousand dollars for any appeal.
- The action must be brought in the court of common pleas of the county in which the employment action occurred. No action may be brought under this chapter unless:
- You have exhausted all available grievance or other administrative remedies; and
- Any previous proceedings have resulted in a finding that you would not have been disciplined but for the reporting of alleged wrongdoing.
NOTE: An action under this chapter must be commenced within one year after the accrual of the cause of action or exhaustion of all available grievance or other administrative and judicial remedies or is forever barred.
What else should I know about reporting wrongdoing?
- A public body may take disciplinary action against you if the report is unfounded or merely technical and made in bad faith, up to and including termination.
- Public bodies may take disciplinary action against you for other reasons unrelated to the report.