Responding to Nepotism Situations
Obligations of Responsible Administrators and Senior Administrators to Respond to Nepotism Situations
A responsible administrator who becomes aware that a nepotism situation may exist must take the following steps:
- Determine whether a nepotism situation exists, typically through consultation with the parties in the personal relationship, the parties’ supervisors, and/or others who have an interest in the parties’ work. If not, no further action is needed under this policy.
- If a nepotism situation exists, take one of the following actions:
- eliminate the nepotism situation;
- effectively mitigate the nepotism situation in ways that allow both parties in the personal relationship to remain in their current University positions;
- if the nepotism situation can only be eliminated or effectively mitigated by removing one or both of the parties from their University positions, request that the senior administrator determine whether to grant an exception to this policy.
In making this determination, the senior administrator should consider whether granting an exception to this policy is in the best interests of the parties, the unit, and the University. Where an exception to the policy is granted, a responsible administrator must complete a management plan (as described below) to promote impartiality in subsequent employment or academic decisions. Where granting an exception to this policy is not appropriate, the senior administrator may decide that it is necessary to remove one or both parties from their current University position to eliminate or effectively mitigate the nepotism situation.
- If a management plan is developed, review and update the plan as necessary on an annual basis.
Possible Actions to Eliminate or Effectively Mitigate a Nepotism Situation
When a nepotism situation arises, the University has strong interests in both 1) preventing and eliminating conflicts of interest between University members’ personal relationships and University roles, and 2) continuing to provide access to education and employment to University members in a personal relationship to the extent possible.
In many cases, a nepotism situation can be eliminated or effectively mitigated by restructuring the conditions of the employment or academic association of the parties in a personal relationship, or by taking other effective actions. For example, this could involve removing the hiring or other employment decision-making authority from one of the parties, reassigning the job responsibilities of one or both parties, or changing a party’s advisor or class assignment. In cases where the parties are likely to continue to interact with one another in their University roles, changes made to eliminate or effectively mitigate a nepotism situation must be memorialized in a management plan.
A management plan must include, at a minimum, the following elements:
- an explanation of the parties’ employment or academic roles and how they interact with one another;
- a description of any changes to either party’s job responsibilities that are made to eliminate or effectively mitigate the nepotism situation;
- in situations where one party has supervisory or oversight duties over the other, the designation of an individual or individuals who will assume these supervisory or oversight duties in order to eliminate or effectively mitigate the nepotism situation;
- an agreement by the parties to make best efforts to avoid conflicts that impact the work or academic environment;
- the designation of an individual to monitor and oversee the management plan;
- notice that a responsible administrator or their designee will develop a communication plan as needed to share information about the nepotism situation with those who need to know; and
- signatures of the individuals in a personal relationship, the individual designated to monitor and oversee the management plan, the responsible administrator, and others as appropriate.
See Appendix: Template Management Plan for additional guidance.
Actions taken to eliminate or effectively mitigate the nepotism situation should not unreasonably disadvantage either individual in the personal relationship. In addition, particular consideration should be given to protect and not unreasonably disadvantage University members who hold subordinate positions compared to the individual with whom they are in a personal relationship.
Additional Responsive Actions in Nepotism Situations Involving Romantic or Sexual Relationships
Because nepotism situations involving a romantic or sexual relationship between parties in the workplace or academic environment could in some situations lead to concerns of sexual harassment, such parties to a nepotism situation should be reminded of their obligations and rights under Board of Regents and Administrative Policies: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Relationship Violence.