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Erie County government now has a policy to protect whistle-blowers.

The policy approved by legislators springs from a grand jury review of the scandal at the county's highway garage in Aurora, in which patronage appointees in the Giambra administration were found violating county policies. Lawmakers said certain employees who had tried to expose the wrongdoing -- in at least one instance by contacting a legislator -- were subjected to harassment, demotion, transfer and a loss of overtime.

Grand jurors had suggested lawmakers adopt clear standards protecting whistle-blowers. The new policy is modeled after one at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. It says no adverse personnel action can be taken against a whistle-blower acting in good faith, and a person who does retaliate could be fired.

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