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Personal Relationships

Policy Number: HR-5
Effective Date: October 1, 2003
Revisions: September 2007
Responsible Officer: Senior Vice President of Student Life & Administrative Services

 

I. POLICY

Certain relationships may arise in the work and educational environment that have the potential for compromising or appearing to compromise the fairness and objectivity of a supervisor, faculty member or caregiver in relation to subordinates, students or patients and which may result in a conflict of interest. The University recognizes that all individuals are entitled to freely choose their personal associations and relationships.

However, when an employee (faculty or professional staff), enters into a romantic and/or sexual relationship with a student, a fellow employee, or patient, a power differential may exist which can compromise an individual’s exercise of such choice in personal relationships. Others may also perceive such a relationship as one of preferential treatment that may be detrimental to themselves or others. Consequently, romantic and/or sexual relationships among employees, patients and students – even though consensual – are discouraged.

If such relationships are entered into, they should be approached in a sensitive manner and with an understanding of how they may be perceived by others. Similarly, relationships among individuals on the same level, where there is no component of authority by one individual over another, may be misinterpreted by others and should be approached in a sensitive manner.

 

II. SEXUAL HARASSMENT CHARGE

When the facts establish that a faculty-student, professional staff-student, or supervisor-subordinate power differential existed within the relationship and there is a complaint of sexual harassment, mutual consent may not be an adequate or acceptable defense. If there is disagreement as to whether behavior was affirmatively consensual between the involved individuals, the burden will be on the individual against whom the charge or complaint is made to prove mutual consent.

 

III. REQUIRED REPORTING

If an employee is engaged in a romantic and/or sexual relationship with a subordinate or student, the employee is required to disclose the relationship immediately and the two individuals need to be separated (physically or organizationally), so that one does not have any direct or indirect responsibility, authority or control, real or perceived, over the other. Any and all steps taken to eliminate any real or potential authority or control one employee has over the other must be set forth in writing by the applicable senior administrator and filed in the employees’ personnel files.

 

Inquiries regarding this policy can be directed to the Human Resources Department.