Managing Nepotism and Personal Relationships
Responsible University Officer(s):
- Vice President for Equity and Diversity (Interim)
- Director and Title IX Coordinator, Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
Members of the University community are prohibited from directly influencing the University employment or academic progress of a University member with whom they have a personal relationship. In addition, the policy may be invoked where there is no direct influence on employment or academics, but where the relationship has a negative impact on the educational or work environment.
A University member who is or will be in a position to engage in a prohibited activity must consult with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) to determine whether or not the relationship violates this policy and to develop an appropriate nepotism agreement. Likewise, a supervisor or manager who becomes aware of a potential nepotism violation should report it to the EOAA Office as should any employee who believes that their employment is negatively affected by a personal relationship of their own or another's.
The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action may grant exceptions to this policy when eliminating the prohibited activities would unreasonably disadvantage one or both of the University members in the personal relationship. If the exception is granted, a written agreement will be developed so that employment and academic decisions are made impartially. A written agreement will also be created if a relationship has a negative impact on the work environment, even if the relationship does not have a direct influence on employment or academic progress.
No member of the University community may retaliate against an individual because of the individual’s good faith participation in:
- reporting or otherwise expressing opposition to, suspected or alleged misconduct;
- participating in any process designed to review or investigate suspected or alleged misconduct or non-compliance with applicable policies, rules, and laws; or
- accessing the Office for Conflict Resolution (OCR) services.
A causal relationship between the good faith participation in one of these activities and an adverse action is needed to demonstrate that retaliation has occurred.
Reporting Retaliation Concerns
Individuals who believe that retaliation is occurring or has occurred, as a result of their good faith participation in one of the above referenced activities, should follow the reporting options available to them in the Administrative Policy: Reporting Suspected Misconduct.
Reports of retaliation will be reviewed and investigated in the same manner in which other concerns of misconduct are handled. Any University member who engages in retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or expulsion.
Intentionally False Reports/Information
Individuals who, knowingly or intentionally, file a false report or provide false or misleading information in connection with an investigation may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment, or expulsion.
REASON FOR POLICY
To implement Board of Regents Policy: Nepotism and Personal Relationships. The University is committed to the highest standard of professional conduct and integrity and expects all members of the university community to adhere to them. Members of the University community must take care to ensure that personal relationships within the community do not result in conflicts of interest and situations that might impair objective judgment or create a hostile work environment.
- Any administrator or supervisor who is responsible for managing or supervising a unit.
- Adverse Action
- Any action that might deter a reasonable person from engaging in reporting suspected or alleged misconduct, expressing opposition to alleged misconduct, participating in an investigation related to a misconduct allegation, or accessing the Office for Conflict Resolution services. Examples of adverse action include, but are not limited to: impeding the individual’s academic advancement; departing from any customary academic or employment practice regarding the individual; firing, refusing to hire, or refusing to promote the individual; transferring or assigning the individual to a lesser position in terms of wages, hours, job classification, job security, employment or academic status; and threatening or marginalizing an individual. In some situations, retaliatory conduct may also include inappropriate disclosure of the identity of the individual who has made a complaint protected by this policy.
- Good Faith Participation
- Reporting, or otherwise expressing opposition to, misconduct based on a reasonable belief that misconduct has occurred. Or, honestly participating in an investigation of misconduct or accessing conflict resolution services.
- The steps taken to analyze all relevant information regarding suspected or alleged misconductand then determine whether sufficient evidence exists to find that misconduct occurred.
- A violation of local, state, or federal law or University policy, or noncompliance with sponsor regulations or requirements.
- Member of University Community
- Any University of Minnesota faculty member, student, or staff member, or other individual engaged in any University activity or program.
- Actions by a University member that directly or indirectly influence the University employment (e.g., hiring, promotion, supervision, evaluation, and determination of salary) or academic progress (e.g., grading and advising) of any other University member with whom they have a personal relationship. This definition includes instances where there is no direct influence on employment or academics, but the relationship has a negative impact on the educational or work environment.
- Personal Relationship
- A marital or other committed relationship; significant familial relationship, including, relationships by blood, adoption, marriage, or domestic partnership; partner, parent, grandparent, child, sibling, first cousin, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, spouse, brother- or sister-in-law, father – or mother-in-law, son- or daughter-in-law, step-parent or step-child; consensual sexual or romantic relationship; a close personal friendship; or a significant business relationship.
- Prohibited Activities
- Directly influencing or exerting power over the employment or academic progress of a member of the University community, including but not limited to hiring, promotion, supervision, evaluation, determination of salary, grading, and advising. Retaliating against any individual who reports their concerns about nepotism or who participates in an investigation.
- Report in Good Faith
- A report made by an individual who reasonably believes that misconduct has occurred and reports the incident.
- Taking an adverse action against an individual because of the individual’s good faith participation in reporting suspected or alleged misconduct, expressing opposition to alleged misconduct, participating in an investigation related to a misconduct allegation, or accessing the Office for Conflict Resolution services. See also Adverse Action.) A causal relationship between good faith participation in reporting and an adverse action is needed to demonstrate that retaliation has occurred.
- Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office
- Establish procedures for this policy. Advise and educate departments and individuals on resolutions involving personal relationships and develop nepotism policy where necessary. Store documentation when requested.
- Member of University Community
- Inform their supervisor of any workplace personal relationship involvement.
- Consult with each individual in the relationship, either jointly or separately. Contact EOAA. Protect the employment or academic interests of the subordinate. Document consultation regarding personal relationships. Keep all documentation secure and separate from any official file.
- Board of Regents Policy: Nepotism and Personal Relationships (PDF)
- Board of Regents Policy: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Relationship Violence (PDF)
- Board of Regents Policy: Individual Conflicts of Interest (PDF)
- Administrative Policy: Individual Conflicts of Interest
- EOAA Brochure: Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at the University of Minnesota (PDF)
- July 2014 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revision. 1. The core University paragraph on retaliation was added. 2. Minor changes were made to the policy to make it consistent with other administrative policies.
- July 2008 - Statement, Exclusions, Definitions, Responsibilities and Procedure clarified and updated. Added new appendix: Template for Nepotism Agreement.
- June 2006 - Title of Policy changed from "Managing Consensual Relationships in the Workplace" to "Managing Nepotism and Personal Relationships" and the procedure title "Responding to Consensual Relationships" changed to: "Responding to Nepotism and Personal Relationships".
- June 2002 - Title of Policy changed from "Managing Personal Relationships in the Workplace" to "Managing Nepotism and Consensual Relationships" and the procedure title "Responding to Personal Relationships" changed to: "Responding to Nepotism and Consensual Relationships". This change was made to make this policy and procedure easier to find.
- May 1999 - Added FAQ section.
- March 1999 - The Regents policy on Nepotism and Consensual Relations was passed on December 11, 1998, modifying the previous policy on Nepotism. This policy establishes the first procedures.