Non-scientific misconduct

Do you want to submit a report of non-scientific misconduct?

If superiors or colleagues do not act correctly towards you or other people within your professional environment, MPG being the employer can only act to protect you if it receives information on alleged misconduct.

In order to be able to properly follow up on respective information, MPG has established a transparent procedure, which is taken care of by the Staff Unit Internal Investigations, situated in the Audit Department.

What is non-scientific misconduct?

Misconduct is defined as conduct that is contrary to law, contract or regulation and affects MPG and/or its employees in their professional relationships. Non-scientific misconduct occurs when the reported situation is completely or predominantly non-scientific in nature. 

Note: Information on MPG's handling of scientific misconduct can be found here.

Who can you contact?

The MPG has set up two central reporting points for receiving reports of non-scientific misconduct. Internally, you can contact the Staff Unit Internal Investigations, and externally, you can contact the Lawyers of Trust who have been assigned by the MPG.

The reporting points can be contacted by telephone or e-mail (in English or German). It is also available for personal appointments (also via video call).

What is the difference between the two reporting points?

The Staff Unit Internal Investigations receives information or complaints about suspected non-scientific misconduct by (former) employees. After an initial investigation of the facts with the person making the report, the Staff Unit assesses if and how the MPG can take care of the reported situation. The Staff Unit does not, however, provide legal advice. The Staff Unit also informs about the procedure for suspected non-scientific misconduct (see also details below). The Staff Unit Internal Investigations is the central internal reporting point designated by the MPG.

Alternatively, (former) employees of the MPG who have experienced suspected non-scientific misconduct themselves or have observed it vis-à-vis third parties may contact the external law firm. The law firm accepts reports as outlined above and is free of charge.

It also checks whether the information could have legal relevance. The law firm does not give legal advice. As the lawyers are bound to absolute confidentiality, they will only pass on information to the MPG's internal reporting point with your expressed permission.

What information is needed to decide whether a report can be investigated?

In order to be able to check whether and in which procedure the MPG can investigate your report in more detail, the MPG requires substantiated documentation of this situation from you (e.g. exact description of the situation, naming of the persons involved, e-mails or letters). 

What happens next?

Based on the information you provide regarding the alleged non-scientific misconduct, the Staff Unit will conduct an initial assessment as part of a preliminary procedure. 

Within the framework of the preliminary proceedings, it may be determined that

  • non-scientific misconduct has not been sufficiently substantiated. The Vice President will then decide not to open an investigation.
  • it is a matter that does not constitute a complaint, but further processing of your concern can be supported by a specialized department of the General Administration or Central Representative. In this case, you will receive the necessary contact information of the responsible staff members.
  • an investigation of the complaint by the MPG is warranted. The Vice President decides on the further proceedings.

When does the Staff Unit Internal Investigations conduct an investigation?

The Staff Unit Internal Investigations is the central reporting point for non-scientific misconduct and takes over the internal investigation centrally and in a leading role if the cases are of superior significance. This is the case if the allegation of misconduct is directed against a Scientific Member and/or the report is likely to jeopardize the reputation of the MPG.

If the supervisory function for the person accused lies with a Max Planck Institute (MPI), the procedural rules foresee that the complaint is dealt with at the MPI in decentralized proceedings. The proceedings initiated by the complaint are continued at the MPI with a request for further clarification of the facts. The MPI then reports to the management of the MPG on the measures it has taken. 

How does a central internal investigation proceed?

If - as described above - it is decided during the preliminary proceedings that an internal investigation will be opened, a comprehensive clarification of the facts follows and investigative measures are initiated (e.g., the review of documents, data, and the statements of the parties involved and any respondents).

After the clarification of the facts has been completed, the Staff Unit carries out a legal evaluation of the findings. Together with the Vice President, a recommendation is made to the President (or the Executive Committee) as to whether the reported allegation - in the opinion of the MPG - involves non-scientific misconduct and, if so, what further steps should be taken (e.g. sanctioning of misconduct). 

At the end of an internal investigation, the President (or the Executive Committee) decides whether and, if so, what the consequences of the misconduct are.

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