Friday, February 18, 2022

St. Johns County Warns About Retaliation Against Whistleblowers

Responding to incidents of discrimination, retaliation, conflict of interest and outside employment in the Utilities Department -- resulting in firing of supervisor Richard Nelson, our County government is notifying all employees of their duties under existing policies. 

Three cheers!

On February 14, 2022, the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners warned managers and others about the County's policies, including whistleblower retaliation: 


500 San Sebastian View

St. Augustine, Florida 32084 904.209.0635 PHONE 904.209.0636 FAX


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St. Johns County Employees


Lilian Hutchinson, Human Resources Director



Administrative Code / Policy Acknowledgement Form



February 14, 2022

St. Johns County has established an Administrative Code with policies that apply to the conduct, actions, and interactions of employees and the departments of County government in their dealings with each other, the Board of County Commissioners, the private sector, and the general public. The Administrative Code is accessible to employees on either the County Intranet or Employee Connection website. Published policies are subject to change and revised information may supersede or eliminate existing policies. All such revisions will be communicated to employees through official County notices. Employees should consult the Human Resource Department for any questions regarding County personnel policies.

The policy statements referred to in the attached policy acknowledgement form should be reviewed, acknowledged by signature, and returned to your department Administrative Coordinator or administrative liaison. Signed acknowledgements will be retained in personnel files by the Human Resources Department.


ST. JOHNS COUNTY POLICY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Review the policies listed below and sign the acknowledgement statement.


AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT St. Johns County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, As Amended (ADA, AA) and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. All persons shall be treated fairly and given opportunities equal to those provided to all others working or seeking to work for the County.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYMENT St. Johns County is an equal opportunity employer. All employment actions are taken without regard to race, religion, national origin, color, sex, marital status, age, disability, or genetics. The Board adopted an Equal Employment Opportunity Plan, which outlines goals and responsibilities, and may be reviewed by contacting the Director of Human Resources who serves as the County’s EEO Officer.

FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT St. Johns County complies with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that affords protection rights to employees who need family and medical leave. Eligible employees are entitled to take up to twelve (12) workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a defined twelve (12) month period for specified reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage. Employees must follow guidelines for requesting leave and provide enough information for the County to reasonably determine whether the FMLA may apply to a request.

FRAUD WASTE AND ABUSE St. Johns County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s (Clerk of Court) Fraud, Waste and Abuse (FWA) Policy was established to facilitate in the detection, prevention and reporting of fraud, waste and abuse directed against the County government. The intent of this policy is to promote awareness of the potential for fraud, waste, and abuse throughout the County and to ensure compliance with the principles of right and wrong which govern the conduct of County employees, vendors, consultants, contractors, and all other outside agencies/parties doing business with St. Johns County. (Fraud, Waste and Abuse Policy - (

MILITARY SERVICE LEAVE St. Johns County complies with all applicable laws that afford protection rights to employees serving duty with the military, the Reserve and National Guard, including the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Employees must notify their department and Human Resources of upcoming military duty by providing a copy of official orders or certification as soon as possible. Military service may include annual field training, coast defense exercise, or other active duty or training exercises or who is ordered by the Selective Service Board to appear for an examination for induction into the military service.

violation of F.S. §112.313 (5), and may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

PROHIBITION OF UNLAWFUL HARASSMENT St. Johns County is committed to maintaining a work environment free of harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, marital status, disability, and genetics. The County will not tolerate unlawful harassment of any employee by any supervisor, co-worker, vendor, client, or other parties while on the job. Workplace harassment may violate one or more of the following: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended or the Florida Civil Rights Act. All employees are responsible for maintaining a workplace that is free of unlawful harassment and intimidation. The County is committed to investigating all complaints of unlawful harassment. Violations may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

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MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION No St. Johns County public officer or employee shall corruptly use or attempt to use their official position or any property or resource which may be within their trust, or perform their official duties,

to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for themselves, or others. Misuse would be in



PUBLIC RECORDS The Florida Public Records Act (Chapter 119, F.S.) provides the public with a right to access the records of state and local governments. “Public Record” means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency (i.e., emails, contracts, log-in sheets, maps, books, etc.). Unless there is a statutory exemption to public disclosure, the County may not refuse to allow public records to be inspected or copied by a requestor. Readily available records should be provided to the requestor for inspection or copying. If it will take some time to locate and review the records for exempt information, let the requestor know and gather contact information for notification when the records are available and if there are any associated costs. *Florida has a two-party consent law, recording conversations where parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy is unlawful without consent from each party. F.S 934.03 Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited.—(1) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, any person who: 3. (d)It is lawful under this section and ss. 934.04-934.09 for a person to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication when all of the parties to the communication have given prior consent to such interception.


APPEARANCE AND GROOMING/DRESS CODE St. Johns County employees are expected to take pride in their personal appearance and meet appropriate grooming standards as enforced by each Department Director. Work attire shall reflect a customer oriented and professionally operated organization. Department policy may vary based on safety regulations, tasks performed, and the customers served.

APPROPRIATE CONDUCT St. Johns County employees are expected to adhere to accepted business principles in matters of professional and personal conduct and exhibit a high degree of personal integrity at all times. Employees must refrain from behaviors that may be harmful to self and others or that might be viewed unfavorably by employees or the public. St. Johns County is an "at will" employer as defined by Florida Statutes.

CONFIDENTIALITY St. Johns County employees shall not disclose confidential information gained through their employment with any person who does not have the need to know. Employees are also prohibited from using such privileged information for their personal gain or benefit.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST St. Johns County employees shall not have personal investments in any enterprise, which could create substantial conflict between their private interests and public interest. It is important that employees do not maintain such relationships with organizations, businesses or individuals with which they have official County business. Such behavior might be construed as evidence of favoritism, coercion, unfair advantage, or collusion.

COMPUTER USE St. Johns County employees may only use the County computer system for the purpose of conducting County business and may only be accessed by authorized users.

COUNTY AND PERSONAL TELEPHONE USE County provided telephones (land lines and cellular phones) are intended for the conduct of St. Johns County business and are a tool for carrying out the County’s day-to-day operations. All calls are to be handled in a professional manner. The use of personal cellular phones or other communication devices is restricted to non-duty time, such as breaks, lunch, etc.

DRIVERS LICENSE AND RECORD St. Johns County employees are required to have and maintain a valid Florida driver’s license, unless waived by the Human Resources Department. Employees must notify their supervisor and Human Resources as soon as their Florida driving privileges are cancelled, suspended, or revoked. Driver records are checked annually. Employees must also maintain insurance on any personal vehicle used to conduct County business in accordance with Florida Statutes. In the event of an accident the “at-fault” driver’s insurance is primary.

EMPLOYEE PERSONNEL FILES To maintain up-to-date files, the Human Resources Department must be notified of any changes to employee personal information including, but not limited to, the following: name, telephone number, home address, marital status, beneficiaries, and emergency contact.

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GIFTS St. Johns County employees shall not solicit or accept anything of value from any person or entity, including a gift, loan, reward, promise of future employment, favor or service, based upon any understanding that the official action, or judgment of the employee, would be influenced thereby except as allowed per Florida Statutes Ch. 112.

SECONDARY AND OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT St. Johns County employees who engage in secondary employment may not allow that employment interfere or conflict with County work and interest (military service is not considered outside employment). Outside employment must be approved by Department Director and Human Resources Department using the designated Secondary Employment form.


DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING To ensure a safe, drug-free workplace, the County’s testing policy is designated to provide all employees and job applicants with information to understand, recognize, and eliminate substance abuse. Employees are required to read and sign a “Drug Testing Policy – Certificate of Acknowledgement” form following new hire orientation. Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement must comply with the provisions of the Policy mandated by State or Federal law regardless of the collective bargaining relationship.

REPORTING ACCIDENTS OR INCIDENTS Employees who are involved in a work-related accident, damaged County property, or who experienced an on-the-job injury or illness must complete the St. Johns County Accident/Incident Report within twenty-four (24) hours. The report must be delivered to Risk Management with the supervisor’s report and other documentation attached (doctor notes, photos, police reports, citizen, witness written statements, etc.). Incomplete forms are accepted in order to meet the twenty-four (24) hour deadline, however complete forms must be submitted as soon as possible. All employees who are involved in a work related accident, damaged County property, or who experienced an on-the-job injury or illness shall be drug tested.

SAFE USE OF CELL PHONES AND ELECTRONIC DEVICES The use of cell phones, without a hands-free device, while a vehicle is in operation is restricted to calls placed or received that are deemed an emergency or absolutely vital to carry out business without further delay. The use of electronic devices while the vehicle or equipment is in operation is strictly prohibited. The use of a cell phone or electronic device for texting and emailing while the vehicle or equipment is in operation is strictly prohibited.

WORKERS COMPENSATION St. Johns County provides Workers’ Compensation insurance benefits to all employees and volunteers who are injured in the course and scope of their work for the Board of County Commissioners, Supervisor of Elections, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, and Clerk of Courts. Any injury arising out of the course of employment shall be immediately reported to trigger the Workers’ Compensation provisions per Florida Statutes.


I have read and reviewed the policies listed above. I am aware that it is my responsibility to review on at least an annual basis the full policy in the Administrative Code, which may be accessed from the County Intranet or Employee Connection website, or obtained from the Human Resources Department. I acknowledge that policies are subject to change, and I understand that revised information may supersede, modify, or eliminate existing policies. Furthermore, I understand it is my responsibility to comply with these policies and acknowledge this compliance as a condition of my employment with St. Johns County.

Employee Signature page4image45019904 page4image45020096Date Employee Name page4image45020288 page4image45020480Employee No.

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