|Policy Approved by the:||University Senate - April 16, 1998
Administration - returned for amendments
Board of Regents - no action required
Approved by the:
|University Senate - April 16, 1998
Administration - pending
Board of Regents - no action required
Approved by the:
|University Senate - November 5, 1998|
Administration - November 20, 1998
Board of Regents - December 11, 1998
Nepotism and Consensual Relationships Policy
Subd. 1. Member of the University Community. "Member of the University community" or "University member" shall mean any University of Minnesota faculty member, student, or staff member, or other individual engaged in any University activity or program.
Subd. 2. Personal Relationship. "Personal relationship" shall mean marital or other committed relationship, significant familial relationship, or consensual sexual or romantic relationship.
SECTION II. EMPLOYMENT AND ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES.
Subd. 1. Prohibited Activities. A member of the University community may not directly influence the University employment or academic progress of a University member with whom he or she has a personal relationship. Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to, hiring, promotion, supervision, evaluation, determination of salary, grading, and advising.
Subd. 2. Noncompetitive Appointments. This policy does not prohibit noncompetitive appointments of spouses and partners otherwise authorized by University policy.
Subd. 3. Relationships With Current Students. Personal relationships between faculty members or advisors and their current students are very unwise and may violate other University policies, even when prohibited activities have been avoided, because of the trust accorded to faculty members and advisors by students, the power differential inherent in academic associations, the difficulty of making alternative arrangements for grading and evaluation, and the risk of real or perceived favoratism toward the student in the personal relationship and the potential harm to this student and other students.
SECTION III. ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTIVES.
Subd. 1. Procedures Required. The president shall adopt procedures for the implementation of this policy. The procedures must contain the provisions outlined in subdivisions 2-5.
Subd. 2. Consultation. Consultation shall be mandatory for University members who are or will be in a position to engage in an activity prohibited by section II.
A consultation process shall be designed to ensure that:
Subd. 3. Goal of Consultation. Compliance with this policy may be achieved either by structuring the conditions of the employment or academic association of the related parties so as to avoid or eliminate the prohibited activities or by avoiding the personal relationship that may lead to the prohibited activities. The structuring of the association must be done after appropriate consultation and must not unreasonably disadvantage either University member.
Subd. 4. Power Disparity. When a power disparity exists in the employment or academic association of the individuals in the personal relationship, the employment or academic interests of the subordinate must be protected when structuring the association to avoid the prohibited activity.
Subd. 5. Exclusions. In exceptional circumstances an exclusion from section II, subd. 1 may be granted when eliminating the prohibited activities would unreasonably disadvantage one or both of the University members involved in a personal relationship. In the event that an exclusion is granted, safeguards must be implemented to help ensure that any employment or academic decisions regarding the involved University members are made impartially.
SECTION IV. DISCIPLINARY ACTION.
A violation of section II, subd. 1 may lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or academic dismissal. Participation in and adherence to the consultation process may mitigate disciplinary action.
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES FOR THE NEPOTISM AND CONSENSUAL SEXUAL OR ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS POLICY
In order to ensure that academic and employment decisions are free from conflicts of interest and the compromised objective judgment likely to result from such conflicts, and to protect the integrity of the academic and work environments of the University, the University's Policy on Nepotism and Consensual Sexual or Romantic Relationships states that members of the University community who are in personal relationships with each other, as defined in that policy, may not participate in or directly influence the hiring, promotion, supervision, evaluation, determination of salary, or grading or advising of one another, and may not otherwise directly influence the academic progress or employment of one another.
Compliance with this policy may be achieved either by structuring the conditions of the employment or academic association of the related parties so as to avoid or eliminate the prohibited activities or by avoiding the personal relationship that may lead to the prohibited activities. The structuring of the employment or academic association must be done in consultation with an appropriate administrator, and must not unreasonably disadvantage either party. In rare circumstances, the EOAA may determine that a prohibited activity should not be eliminated because to do so would unreasonably disadvantage one or both of the parties. Under such circumstances, safeguards must be provided so that decisions made by either of the parties will be made impartially. Under this policy, an appropriate administrator is a supervisor, department head, unit or University human resource consultant or equal opportunity officer, or dean.
When a power disparity exists in the employment or academic association of the individuals in the personal relationship, special care must be taken to protect the interests of the subordinate, especially when dealing with relationships between instructors and their current students or between advisors and their current advisees. Because of the trust accorded to the faculty member or advisor by the student, the power differential inherent in the academic association, the difficulty of making alternative arrangements for grading and evaluation, and the risk of real or perceived favoritism toward the student in the relationship and potential harm to this student and other students, such relationships are very unwise and may violate other university policies, even when the prohibited activities have been eliminated.
Members of the University community who are in personal relationships with each other and are likely to be placed in a position to hire, promote, supervise, evaluate, determine salary, grade or advise, or otherwise directly influence the academic progress or employment of the other person in the relationship, must consult with an appropriate administrator to seek guidance about eliminating and avoiding existing and potential conflicts arising from the relationship. Individuals are also encouraged to consult with an appropriate administrator to determine whether a particular relationship falls within the scope of the policy.
The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) is the primary Presidential designee for implementation of the policy. EOAA is the primary resource for consultation because of its familiarity with the issues raised; its expertise in handling such situations, some of which are very sensitive matters; and its ability to ensure that cases are handled fairly and consistently. However, if they prefer, individuals in the relationship may consult with one of the following administrators: a supervisor, department head, unit or University human resources consultant or equal opportunity officer, or dean.
The purpose of the consultation is to ensure (1) that arrangements are made to eliminate and avoid conflicts of interest and compromised objective judgment, when that can be done in conformity with this policy, (2) that the individuals do not hire, promote, supervise, evaluate, determine salary, grade or advise, or otherwise directly influence each other's academic progress or employment, (3) that the arrangements do not unreasonably disadvantage either party, particularly a subordinate in the employment or academic association, and (4) that the arrangements are disclosed, as necessary and appropriate, to the administrators who need to know about them in order to implement the arrangements or the policy.
The administrator consulted pursuant to this policy shall take the following steps in a timely manner:
1. Discuss the employment or academic relationship, and resulting conflicts of interest, with each individual in the relationship.
2. Discuss with each individual in the relationship the steps to be taken to eliminate and avoid compromised objective judgment and existing or potential conflicts of interest.
3. Document the information received from the individuals, the conflicts considered, the steps to be taken to avoid and eliminate the conflicts, the manner in which the planned changes will
be accomplished and reviewed, and the necessary and appropriate disclosures. The documentation should be kept in a secured file, separate from any employee's personnel file. The documentation may be forwarded to EOAA for safekeeping.
4. Protect the privacy of the individuals involved and the security of the documentation created during the consultation, to the extent appropriate under the circumstances.
5. In cases where the consultation takes place with an appropriate administrator other than EOAA, the administrator must contact EOAA before implementation to discuss the conflicts considered, the steps to be taken to avoid and eliminate the conflicts, the manner in which the planned changes will be accomplished and periodically reviewed, the necessary and appropriate disclosures, and the relevant documentation. Approval by the EOAA is required for any implementation arrangements to ensure fair, reasonable, and consistent implementation of this policy. The discussion with EOAA may be accomplished without revealing the identities of the individuals in the relationship.
EOAA is available to assist administrators, when requested, in determining whether a violation of this policy has occurred and in addressing policy violations in a fair and consistent manner. As with other University policy violations, discipline is issued by the unit or department, and not by EOAA. Third party complaints concerning possible violations of this policy are to be directed to EOAA.
POTENTIAL CONNECTIONS WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS
Individuals should be aware that consensual sexual or romantic relationships may result in claims of sexual harassment because the voluntariness of the consent may be questioned when a power differential exists between the individuals in the relationship. The power disparity between a supervisor and a subordinate makes such relationships vulnerable to exploitation and to claims of exploitation. This is especially true of relationships involving faculty and their students. If a sexual harassment claim subsequently is filed by one of the individuals in the relationship, the argument that the relationship was consensual will be evaluated in light of this power differential.
Individuals should also be aware that consensual sexual or romantic relationships may give rise to third party claims of sexual harassment based on allegations that real or perceived favoritism, or a resulting change in the employment or academic environment, unreasonably interferes with the third party's employment or education by creating an environment that is intimidating, hostile or offensive. Such claims are often avoided through proactive consultation regarding the potential negative impact of personal relationships on the employment and educational experience of others and regarding ways to ameliorate or minimize the potential for such negative impact. Supervisors and other responsible administrators must take timely and appropriate action when they know or have reason to know that behavior that might be sexual harassment is occurring. EOAA is available to consult on these matters.
POTENTIAL VIOLATIONS OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT
The Code of Conduct establishes that members of the university community (as there defined) "are expected to adhere to the highest ethical standards of professional conduct and integrity." Because of the special obligations of faculty (including all instructional staff) toward their students and of supervisors toward their subordinates, actions taken by faculty members or supervisors in pursuing consensual sexual or romantic relationships with their current students or subordinates may harm the academic and work environment, whether the advances are welcomed or rebuffed. Such actions may violate the standards articulated in the Code of Conduct, even when the activities prohibited by the Nepotism and Consensual Sexual or Romantic Relationships Policy have been eliminated.
When a personal relationship as defined in Section 2 of the policy has ended, there may be existing or potential conflicts of interest, and the compromised objective judgment likely to result from such conflicts, that warrant the type of consultation described above.
This policy does not supersede the provisions of the Guidelines for Academic Searches relating to Noncompetitive Appointments of spouses and partners.
AMENDMENTS AND INTERPRETATIONS OF ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES
Proposals for amendments to these procedures may be submitted at any time to the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs, which, after consulting with the Sexual Harassment Board, will seek the concurrence of the Senate Consultative Committee for any amendments. The Senate Consultative Committee will refer the recommended amendments to the President or a designee for review and final approval.