Ethics hotline allows employees to raise concerns, even anonymously

As part of Rice University’s commitment to maintaining an environment of ethical behavior and compliance with law and university policies, Rice offers a way for employees and others to voice their concerns confidentially if they observe or experience improper behavior in the workplace. A person can make a confidential report by phone, online or in person; they can even do so anonymously.

EthicsPoint, a private vendor, provides a Web- and phone-based service that allows people to communicate openly and honestly with Rice’s administration or board of trustees. Rice has worked with EthicsPoint for a number of years in this effort. Both EthicsPoint and the university know this type of communication is more likely to occur if the person filing a report understands that the investigation will be treated as confidentially as possible.

Any member of the Rice community may use EthicsPoint’s confidential reporting mechanism to report errors or irregularities in accounting/auditing/internal control processes, financial misconduct, potentially illegal employment practices or actions, research misconduct, sexual harassment, workplace violence, unsafe work conditions and other issues.

“If you’re concerned about someone walking in while you’re filling out the form on your computer or someone overhearing your phone conversation, you can access EthicsPoint’s website or toll-free number from home,” said Janet Covington, Rice’s director of Internal Audit. “Once you file an initial report, there’s an anonymous chat feature that allows you to schedule a time to discuss your concerns online or provide additional information to the officials addressing the concerns in your report.”

Covington noted that even if employees contact EthicsPoint from their office computer, the process is still anonymous because the vendor does not track a computer’s IP address.

Faculty and staff members are welcome and encouraged to communicate their concerns through personal meetings with the offices of Human Resources, Internal Audit, General Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action, Risk Management or the deans. But the EthicsPoint tool is available if someone does not feel comfortable reporting their concerns in person.

To contact EthicsPoint online, visit The website includes frequently asked questions and a link to Rice University policies.

To contact EthicsPoint by phone, call the toll-free number: 866-294-4633. The EthicsPoint operators can take reports in English or Spanish. Arrangements can be made to take reports in other languages, if needed.

If you have questions about EthicsPoint or other methods for reporting questions or concerns about workplace behavior, contact Covington at 713-348-6312.

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