A whistleblower may be any person who has an opportunity to observe improper conduct at a company and includes employees, former employees, agents, consultants, vendors, outside counsel, customers or owners. As whistleblowers risk retaliation when making reports of illegal or fraudulent activity, numerous federal and state statutes provide various protections to whistleblowers. Specifically, under federal law workers in the consumer financial product and service industries are protected from retaliation for reporting violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (“CFPA”) or any other provision of law that is subject to the jurisdiction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”). This means that employers are prohibited from taking “adverse action” against their workers for reporting a violation of law. Adverse action may include, but is not limited to, firing, laying off, reducing pay or hours, denying a promotion or overtime hours, reassigning, denying benefits, intimidating, disciplining or making threats.
Moria Development, Inc. d/b/a Peoples Mortgage Company (the “Company”) specifically designed this Whistleblower Protection Policy (the “Policy”) to document its whistleblower program, its anti-retaliation standards and to encourage its personnel to come forward with any and all credible information on illegal practices or violations to Company policies and procedures and/or federal and/or state rules and regulations. This Policy, among other things, describes how the Company protects such individuals from retaliation and identifies how and to whom such improper activity should be reported.
Whistleblower – any person who has an opportunity to observe improper conduct at a company, including current or former employees, agents, consultants, vendors, outside counsel, customers, or owners.
Whistleblowing – the reporting of information or concerns, by one or more individuals or entities, that are reasonably believed by such individual(s) or entity(s) to constitute illegality, fraud, unfair or unethical conduct, mismanagement, abuse of power, unsafe or dangerous activity, or other wrongful conduct, including, but not limited to, any conduct that may affect the safety, soundness, or reputation of the Company.
In general, the Company shall not terminate or in any other way discriminate against an employee by reason of the fact that such employee, whether at the initiative of the employee or in the ordinary course of the duties of the employee (or any person acting pursuant to a request of the employee) has provided, caused to be provided, or is about to provide information to the Company, or any state, local, or federal government authority or law enforcement agency relating to any violation, or any act or omission that the employee reasonably believes to be a violation; or the employee objected to or refused to participate in, any activity or practice that the employee or other such person reasonably believed to be in violation of any law, rule, order, standard, or prohibition, subject to the jurisdiction of, or enforceable by any state, local, or federal government authority.
The Company encourages its employees and others to report suspicious and/or illegal activity or other concerns regarding the Company’s operations, including other employees’ behavior, internally so that it can address and correct any inappropriate conduct and/or actions. All employees have a duty to report concerns about violations of Company policies and procedures, as well as federal and state rules and regulations. Employees must exercise sound judgment to avoid baseless allegations. Retaliation against an individual who, in good faith, reports a perceived violation is strictly prohibited. Acting “in good faith” means the individual has reasonable grounds for believing the information disclosed indicates a violation. An employee who retaliates against someone who has reported a violation in good faith will be subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment. Any allegations that prove not to be substantiated and/or prove to have been made maliciously or with knowledge that they were false will also result in disciplinary measures up to and including termination of employment.
The Company prominently posts a copy of this Policy on its website for both personnel and customers to view. This helps ensure that potential Whistleblowers are not discouraged from coming forward. Employees and customers are also encouraged to use the Company’s toll free hotline for any reports they wish to keep anonymous.
EMPLOYEE REPORTING PROCEDURES
The Company maintains an open door policy with regard to whistleblowing. The Company encourages its employees to share their questions, concerns, suggestions or complaints with their immediate supervisor. Supervisors and managers must report all complaints and/or concerns about suspected violations of Company policies and procedures and/or federal and/or state rules and regulations to the Company’s General Counsel. If an employee is not comfortable speaking with his/her supervisor or is not satisfied with his/her supervisor’s response, the Company encourages the employee to speak directly with the Company’s General Counsel or to use the toll free hotline to anonymously report the complaint.
The Company’s General Counsel must promptly investigate all reported Whistleblowing complaints. Upon receipt of a Whistleblowing complaint, the General Counsel will determine whether any potential conflict of interest exists. Further, the General Counsel will evaluate the complaint to determine whether it involves a single event and/or actor or if the complaint involves a repeat issue or multiple actors, which may then trigger a comprehensive investigation.
The Company’s General Counsel will report any serious or material findings to the Company’s Board of Directors and/or Executive Management. Further, in the event the investigation reveals suspected violations of law, the Company will report such misconduct to the appropriate authorities.
Reports of violations or suspected violations will be kept confidential to the extent possible, consistent with the need to conduct an adequate investigation and in order to comply with the law. The confidentiality shall include the protection of the Whistleblower’s identity, as well as the scope of investigation in progress. Information will be released on a strictly “need to know” basis.
The Company maintains confidential records of the Whistleblower complaint handling process, including the investigation and the action taken in response to each Whistleblower complaint.
The Company provides training to Management annually to assist in identifying issues that they may be made aware of through information learned from informal conversations. The Company also trains its supervisors/managers to direct all informal Whistleblowing complaints to the Company’s General Counsel. Additionally, the Company trains all employees annually with regard to this Whistleblower Protection Policy.
ANTI-RETALIATION AND PROHIBITION OF ADVERSE ACTION
The Company prohibits taking adverse action against its personnel for reporting a violation of law. Adverse action may include, but is not limited to, firing, laying off, reducing pay or hours, denying a promotion or overtime hours, reassigning, denying benefits, intimidating, disciplining or making threats. Employees are assured that they are protected from any form of adverse action or retaliation, and that to the extent possible under state and/or federal laws, their anonymity will be protected if they choose to report anonymously.
CONCLUSIONS AND ADOPTION
This is the Policy of Moria Development, Inc. d/b/a Peoples Mortgage Company. All employees must conduct themselves in compliance with this Policy and any guidance or procedures instituted to further this Policy. The Company requires its personnel to be vigilant to ensure that this Policy and the law is complied with and that any suggestions of wrongdoing or violations of Company policies and procedures are immediately reported and investigated as indicated herein.