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Nepotism/Employment of Relatives & Consensual Amorous Relationships

Policy Number: HR-46
Effective Date: January 2017
Responsible Officer: President of Drexel University Online

PURPOSE
Drexel University Online is committed to maintaining an environment in which learning and discovery take place in a professional atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. While Drexel University Online respects the privacy of its members, Drexel University Online recognizes that there exists the opportunity for the inappropriate use of power, trust or authority. Certain relationships in the work and educational setting have the potential to compromise, or appear to compromise, the fairness and objectivity of employment and educational decisions and the discharge of other professional duties. This policy is intended to promote employment and academic decisions and conduct in the work and educational setting that avoid a conflict of interest, appearance of favoritism, abuse of power, or potential for a hostile work or academic environment.

APPLICABILITY
This policy applies to all eligible Professional Staff Members. To the extent necessary, this policy also applies to Professional Staff Members of any affiliate of Drexel University, and to Students who are employed by Drexel University Online in positions of academic or professional responsibility over other Students, such as teaching assistants, research assistants, evaluators, graders, advisors, mentors or in similar positions.

IMPLEMENTATION
Implementation of this policy is the responsibility of the Department of Human Resources.

ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT
The President of Drexel University Online is the Drexel University Online official responsible for the administration of this policy.

POLICY
Drexel University Online is committed to the hiring and advancement of Professional Staff Members based on qualifications, achievement and merit. Drexel respects the privacy of all members of Drexel University Online community and recognizes that all individuals are entitled to freely choose their personal associations and relationships. Drexel University Online is also mindful that familial relationships and consensual romantic or sexual relationships in the workplace or educational environment, may: cause a conflict of interest; the opportunity for exploitation; the inappropriate use of power, trust or authority; or undermine professionalism, any or all of which negatively affects the fairness and objectivity that is essential to a healthy learning and working environment. Nepotism and consensual Amorous Relationships by and among Professional Staff Members and Students are to be avoided and are strongly discouraged, if not prohibited, under this policy.

Drexel University Online seeks to exercise sound business judgment in its hiring and advancement decisions, including with respect to relatives of Professional Staff Members and anyone involved in consensual Amorous Relationships. With respect to any individual with whom a Professional Staff Member is married, related by blood or law or involved in a consensual Amorous Relationship, the Professional Staff Member may not:

  • Evaluate the individual's work performance or participate in the performance planning or review
  • Hire, rehire, promote or terminate the individual
  • Influence the individual's salary or classification (directly or indirectly)
  • Interview the individual for a position
  • Make any recommendation affecting the individual's terms and/or conditions of employment
  • Supervise the individual or report directly or indirectly to the individual
  • Work in a position where employment may present a conflict of interest

The foregoing restrictions shall also apply if a Professional Staff Member becomes related to another Professional Staff Member through marriage or otherwise during his or her employment at Drexel University Online. If in doubt concerning any of the situations listed above, the Professional Staff Member or the Supervisor should contact the HR Partner for the department, college, school or center for clarification and guidance.

DEFINITIONS

Amorous Relationship is defined as a consensual romantic, sexual or dating relationship, not including marriage, domestic partnership or a civil union relationship.

Department Head is defined as the highest ranking administrator in a department, center or college/school within Drexel University Online (e.g., Senior Vice President, Dean, Director or department chair).

Domestic Partner is defined as an individual in a committed relationship with a Professional Staff Member of the same gender who is neither married to nor related by blood, adoption or law to the Professional Staff Member.

Nepotism is defined as favoritism granted to relatives or other close relationship not based on merit.

Professional Staff Member is defined as an individual employed by Drexel University Online, including individuals who are deemed to be either exempt or non-exempt under the provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). For the purposes of this policy and to the extent applicable, state law differs in defining exempt or non-exempt criteria, state law will govern. For this policy Professional Staff Member also includes Students who are employed by Drexel University Online and whose job responsibilities include academic or professional responsibility, authority or control over other Students, such as teaching assistant, residence assistant, academic advisor, graduate research fellow, research assistant, evaluator, grader, mentor or other duties involving supervising other Students.

Relative is defined as any person who is related to a Professional Staff Member in any of the following ways:

  1. Parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, related by blood, marriage or through adoption.
  2. Spouse, domestic partner, stepparent, stepchild or other relation established by law or court order.

Student is defined as any person currently enrolled, whether part-time or full-time, in undergraduate or graduate courses or programs. Undergraduate Student denotes any Student who is primarily enrolled in undergraduate courses or program and has not obtained a bachelor's degree in such course of study or program. Graduate student denotes any Student who is primarily enrolled in graduate courses or program who is working toward a graduate degree or certification after having earned a bachelor's degree.

Supervisor, for purposes of this policy, is defined as any Professional Staff Member who has the delegated authority to hire, promote, evaluate, grade, direct, coach or mentor another person (Faculty Member, Professional Staff Member or Student).

PROCEDURES

  1. EMPLOYMENT OF RELATIVES
    1. Drexel University Online may hire a qualified Relative of any current Professional Staff Member as long as the employment does not create an actual or potential conflict of interest, or violate any other Drexel University Online policy, and the existing Professional Staff Member has no influence over the terms and conditions of the Relative's employment.
    2. The decision as to whether an actual or potential conflict of interest exists in the hiring of a Relative shall be determined according to the University's policies, particularly the Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest policies. Accordingly, any hiring decision relating to a Relative of a Professional Staff Member must be done in consultation with the appropriate HR Partner.
    3. With the exception of providing a recommendation for the Relative who is being considered for employment or an appointment in Drexel University Online, which shall be accorded such weight as determined in the sole discretion of Drexel University Online, a Professional Staff Member shall not have any direct or indirect role in the decision to hire the Relative.
  2. CONSENSUAL AMOROUS RELATIONSHIPS
  3. PROFESSIONAL STAFF MEMBER AND STUDENT

    1. All members of the Drexel University Online community are cautioned that consensual Amorous Relationships in the work or educational environment can create conflicts of interest, the appearance of, if not actual, favoritism, a hostile work and learning environment as well as claims of sexual harassment or hostile work environment, calling into question the basis of "consent" given the position of power, trust or authority one person may have over the other.
    2. With respect to a Professional Staff Member and a Student, Drexel University Online prohibits any consensual Amorous Relationship in situations where the Professional Staff Member is a Supervisor or reasonably can expect to have, direct or indirect authority or control over (that is, anywhere in the chain of academic responsibility, from mentor through Department Head) or professional responsibility for that student.
    3. With respect to a Student who is also a Professional Staff Member pursuant to this policy, Drexel University Online prohibits Amorous Relationships between such Professional Staff Members and Students for whom the Professional Staff Member is a Supervisor or otherwise has direct or indirect academic or professional responsibility for that Student, including, but not limited to providing professional references, mentoring or tutoring.
    4. Notwithstanding anything in this policy to the contrary, Drexel University Online strictly prohibits any Amorous Relationship between a Professional Staff Member (including a Student) and a Professional Staff Member or Student who is a minor (under 18 years of age), regardless of any direct or indirect authority or control over, professional responsibility for, or supervisory duties concerning that Student or whether the relationship is consensual.

    BETWEEN PROFESSIONAL STAFF MEMBERS

    1. Drexel University Online prohibits any Amorous Relationship between a Supervisor and another Professional Staff Member who is the Supervisor's subordinate, meaning subject to the Supervisor's direct or indirect authority or control (that is, anywhere within the chain of responsibility for the subordinate, including financial control for the department or college or school where the subordinate works), and it is not possible to separate the two individuals (physically or organizationally) so that one does not have direct or indirect responsibility, authority or control over the other so as to eliminate the conflict of interest.
  4. EMPLOYMENT OF RESEARCH FACULTY AND PROFESSIONAL STAFF MEMBERS
    1. Drexel University Online recognizes the particular circumstances in research labs, which many times may involve a professional relationship between relatives and/or individuals who are married or in a domestic partnership or civil union or those who may be involved in an Amorous Relationship. Oftentimes, these relationships develop in the close working environment of research projects, including field work, or they are formed before the Professional Staff Members become associated with Drexel University Online.
    2. Personal relationships, whether as Relatives or through an Amorous Relationship, in the research context should be disclosed by the Professional Staff Members involved in such relationships, documented and carefully scrutinized and monitored to ensure that they do not create any conflict of interest, favoritism, or breach other Drexel University Online policies. All reasonable measures to remove or minimize the conflict of interest, opportunity for exploitation or favoritism should be implemented.
  5. RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IMPLEMENTATION
    1. SUPERVISOR
      1. When a Supervisor learns of an actual or suspected familial relationship among, or an actual or suspected Amorous Relationship involving, one or more Professional Staff Member(s), or involving a Student, the Supervisor must take the following actions:
        1. Consult with the HR Partner for the department/center/college or school.
        2. Based on the consultation with HR, the Supervisor may investigate the situation, including meeting with the Professional Staff Member to discuss the possible conflict and apprise him or her of Drexel University Online's policy.
        3. Whether confirmed or denied, the Supervisor should document the investigation and follow-up actions and appropriately secure notes from all discussions, including:
          1. information received from the individuals,
          2. prohibited activities and potential conflicts discussed,
          3. steps taken to avoid and eliminate the prohibited activities,
          4. method and frequency with which the action will be reviewed,
          5. any necessary and appropriate disclosures which were made to other administrators or Professional Staff Members.
        4. Any steps taken must be set forth in writing by the Supervisor and retained in the relevant individual's(s') personnel file(s).
      2. If the Supervisor is involved, or becomes involved, in a familial or Amorous Relationship covered by this policy, then the Supervisor must report it to his or her immediate supervisor and to the HR Partner to be handled in accordance with this policy.
      3. Failure to act in accordance with this policy may subject the Supervisor to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
    2. PROFESSIONAL STAFF MEMBERS
      1. When a Professional Staff Member is currently or becomes involved in an Amorous Relationship that might be covered under the terms of this policy, the Professional Staff Member must disclose the relationship immediately to his or her immediate supervisor, and through the Conflict of Interest Program, so that any and all steps are taken to comply with this policy.
      2. If a familial relationship is created by marriage, or any other event, and direct or indirect authority or control by a Professional Staff Member over a Relative results, both individuals must disclose the relationship immediately to their respective supervisors, and through the Conflict of Interest Program, so that any and all steps are taken to comply with University policy.
      3. Failure to report a relationship covered by this policy may subject the Faculty or Professional Staff Member(s) to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
    3. DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS: With regard to any familial or Amorous Relationship covered by this policy, including an Amorous Relationship prohibited by this policy that pre-dated the policy, a Professional Staff Member is expected to disclose any such relationship to his or her immediate Supervisor and in the Conflict of Interest process consistent with this policy. Such disclosure must be made immediately upon the event(s) giving rise to the relationship, including the posting of this revised policy. In addition, the Professional Staff Member is expected to take all steps necessary to remove himself or herself from positions of responsibility with respect to the Relative, Professional Member-subordinate or Graduate Student, as the case may be, including but not limited to: resigning from any committee (e.g., dissertation, honors, awards, hiring/advancement) affecting the Relative, subordinate or Student; refrain from writing letters of reference or recommendation for the Relative, subordinate or Student; avoid any situation involving academic or professional responsibility for the Relative, subordinate or Student.
  6. SEXUAL HARRASSMENT CLAIM; OTHER VIOLATION OF POLICY
    1. If there is a claim or complaint of sexual harassment, the matter will be referred to the Office of Equality and Diversity, and an investigation may be conducted. If the facts establish that a power differential existed within the relationship (e.g., Professional Staff Member/subordinate), mutual consent may not be an adequate or acceptable defense. If there is a disagreement as to whether the behavior at issue was affirmatively consensual between the involved individuals, the burden will be on the individual against whom the claim or complaint is made to prove mutual consent.
    2. For any relationships that are prohibited by this policy, regardless of mutual consent or supervisory relationship, any violation of the policy, including a sexual harassment claim or complaint, will result in discipline up to and including termination and loss of tenure, if applicable.

AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT NOT AFFECTED

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary stated in this policy, nothing herein is intended to alter the at-will status of any Professional Staff Member. Drexel University at all times retains the right to terminate any Professional Staff Member at any time for any lawful reason, or for no reason at all.