This policy supports the University’s commitment to employment and academic practices that are fair, equitable, and free from actual, potential, and perceived conflicts of interest arising out of personal relationships.
Prohibition on Nepotism
Nepotism is a prohibited conflict of interest that occurs when:
- a University member directly influences the University employment (e.g., hiring, promotion, supervision, evaluation, and determination of salary) or academic progress (e.g., grading and advising) of a University member with whom they have a personal relationship (e.g., a relative, romantic or business partner, or close personal friend); or
- a personal relationship between University members has a negative impact on the University educational or work environment.
The following are examples of nepotism:
- when an employee directly supervises an individual with whom the employee has a personal relationship;
- when an instructor grades the work of an individual with whom the instructor has a personal relationship;
- when an employee makes or influences a hiring decision for an individual with whom the employee has a personal relationship;
- when a faculty member votes on the promotion or tenure of an individual with whom the faculty member has a personal relationship;
- when an employee favors an individual with whom the employee has a personal relationship by prioritizing, funding, or allocating resources to the individual’s work areas or assignments;
- when colleagues in a romantic relationship engage in repeated public displays of affection toward one another, or engage in conflict related to their romantic relationship with one another, in the workplace and this conduct has a substantial negative impact on the educational or work environment for other University members.
A non-competitive appointment of a spouse or partner of another employee that is otherwise authorized by University policy or procedures does not constitute nepotism under this policy. (See Administrative Procedure: Hiring Without a Search.) However, once the spouse or partner begins work at the University, the actions and interactions of the spouses or partners are subject to this policy and Board of Regents Policy: Nepotism and Personal Relationships.
Potential Nepotism Situations
Potential nepotism situations occur when University members in a personal relationship interact in their University roles in a manner that does not constitute nepotism, but that gives rise to a reasonable possibility or perception that nepotism may occur. Examples of potential nepotism situations include:
- when two employees in a personal relationship are peers in the same unit and do not directly influence one another’s employment, but reasonably could do so in the future; or
- when a parent faculty member and child student are members of the same academic department and: 1) the parent faculty member does not currently advise, instruct, or evaluate the child student, but reasonably could do so in the future; or 2) the parent faculty member’s status or relationships with other department members are reasonably likely to influence, or be perceived to influence, those department members to provide favorable treatment to the child student.
These and other potential nepotism situations do not constitute a prohibited conflict of interest. However, to prevent prohibited conflicts of interest from occurring in the future, and to prevent the perception that a prohibited conflict of interest exists, potential nepotism situations must be addressed in the same manner as nepotism. In the sections below, situations involving potential nepotism or nepotism are referred to collectively as “nepotism situations.”
Responsibility to Report Nepotism Situations
When a nepotism situation exists, both parties in the personal relationship must report the situation to an appropriate responsible administrator. Other University members are encouraged to report nepotism situations about which they are aware to an appropriate responsible administrator.
Obligations of Responsible Administrators and Senior Administrators to Respond to Nepotism Situations
Responsible administrators and senior administrators who become aware that a nepotism situation may exist must take effective responsive action, as set forth in Administrative Procedure: Responding to Nepotism Situations.
Romantic or Sexual Relationships
University members should consider the potential impact of any power differentials related to their University roles when engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with one another. In some cases where one individual in a romantic or sexual relationship holds power over the other at the University, the subordinate individual may submit to or participate in sexual conduct because they fear potential negative repercussions to their employment or academic progress if they refuse, and not because they welcome the conduct. In these situations, the fact that sexual conduct is unwelcome to the subordinate individual may be less apparent to the individual who holds a relatively higher position of power at the University. For this reason, among others, faculty members and others in instructional roles are discouraged from having romantic or sexual relationships with students.
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 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.
Failure to comply with this policy
Failure to comply with this policy, including a failure of parties in a personal relationship to report a nepotism situation as required by this policy, may result in disciplinary action. When parties to a nepotism situation fail to participate in the processes described herein, the matter will be reported to the senior administrator and disciplinary action may be imposed.
Non-compliance with this policy may also be reported to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, the Vice President of Human Resources, and/or U Report (which accepts anonymous reports).
Reason for Policy
To implement Board of Regents Policy: Nepotism and Personal Relationships, and to support the University’s commitment to employment and academic practices that are fair, equitable, and free from actual, potential, and perceived conflicts of interest arising out of personal relationships.