6.17 – Avoidance of Nepotism and Personal Conflicts

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Scope: NMSU System

Source: ARP Chapter 6 | HR - Hiring, Work Rules and Assignments

Rule Administrator:

Last Updated: 01/14/2020

PART 1:  PURPOSE


NMSU’s objective is to eliminate the use of non-merit based factors, to include familial, personal or business relationships, in making hiring/personnel decisions.  This rule is guided in part by the state’s personnel administration, which prohibits state agency employees from hiring, promotion, or direct supervision of a person related (by blood or marriage) within the third degree; as well as by other university policies requiring disclosure of personal conflicts of interest, with appropriate action to manage or avoid the conflict.

PART 2:  RELATIONSHIPS WHICH CREATE A PERSONAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST


Persons related to each other may be employed at NMSU, conditioned upon compliance with this rule.  The following types of Relationships are presumed to create a personal conflict of interest. For purposes of this rule, family is defined more broadly than in ARP 3.02 Part 2 E. and ARP 8.47.

  1. Familial Relationships: Family members related within the third degree: Spouse or domestic partner (ARP 8.03), parent or legal guardian, child, sibling, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, grandparent, grandchild, great grandparent or great grandchild.  Such familial relationships created by law are also included (e.g. adoptive or step parent; mother/father in law; half or step siblings).
  2. Personal Relationships: Relationships presumed to create a personal conflict of interest include:
    1. Intimate Partners, defined as a person with whom the employee presently has, or has had in the past, a romantic or sexual relationship.
    2. Household Members, defined as persons who live in the same residence with a reciprocal emotional relationship, including foster children and legal wards. This does not include persons sharing a facility or residence (such as a boarding house), and there is no emotional or intimate relationship.
    3. Business Partner, defined as a person with whom one shares an ownership interest in a business or commercial venture.

PART 3: RULES


This rule promotes objective employment decisions, while also requiring the disclosure and management (when feasible) of personal conflicts of interest based on Relationship. Additional laws, regulations or contract provisions may also apply; the university will adhere to the strictest rule, law or provision. Depending upon the nature of the conflict, the timing and circumstances relating to the disclosure, the work unit or type of employment, or additional compliance requirements, it may not be feasible to manage certain personal conflicts of interest. In such cases, one or more of the employees involved in the conflict of interest will be subject to separation from service.

  1. Scope of Application: This rule applies throughout the NMSU system for all NMSU officials and employment classifications (e.g. regular and temporary faculty, staff and students, including post docs, work-study and graduate or teaching assistants),  as well as for all types of volunteer affiliates (ARP 2.55 – NMSU Recognition of Affiliated Individuals).
  2. Avoidance of Potential and Actual Conflicts of Interest: The following rules apply in hiring and other personnel actions, to avoid nepotism and personal conflict of interests:
    1. NMSU officials and employees will not hire, supervise, evaluate or otherwise participate in decisions affecting the employment or volunteer status of individuals with whom they have a Relationship.
    2. NMSU supervisors will not place their employees or volunteers in a reasonably foreseeable conflict between the interests of the university and the personal needs of the supervisor. (ARP 3.08)
    3. A principal investigator overseeing a multi-disciplinary sponsored research project may not supervise the research work of any individual with whom they have a Relationship, even when the individual works in a different academic department.  (ARP 3.11 Part 3 B.)
    4. NMSU faculty and other researchers must not permit Relationships with individuals employed elsewhere to affect adversely NMSU’s opportunities to conduct sponsored research. (ARP 3.11 Part 3 C.)
    5. Employees in a supervisor’s reporting line will not hire, supervise, evaluate or otherwise participate in decisions affecting the employment or volunteer status of individuals who have a Relationship with the supervisor. For example, a supervisor’s child, Intimate Partner, sibling or parent is not permitted to work for someone who reports directly to the supervisor.
    6. No faculty member, department chair, dean or other academic administrator may vote, make recommendations, or in any other way participate in the decision of any matter that may materially affect the appointment, tenure, promotion, salary, or any other status or interest of an individual with whom they have a Relationship.
    7. No staff or other employee may supervise, vote, make recommendations, or in any other way participate in the decision of any matter that may materially affect the appointment, tenure, promotion, salary, or other status or interest of an individual with whom they have a Relationship.
  3. Non-Retaliation: An official, employee or volunteer who reports a Relationship, or participates in any investigation as may be necessary, is protected from retaliation.   Allegations of retaliation will independently be investigated, and if substantiated, constitutes cause for disciplinary action, up to, and including, termination.

PART 4: ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES


  1. Prospective Employees: Prospective employees with a Relationship to any supervisor in a department in which they are applied for employment will divulge such Relationship during the hiring process.
  2. Employee: An employee or prospective employee related to a supervisor is responsible for disclosing or reporting, as applicable, the Relationship to the next level supervisor or to the assistant vice president of human resource services for appropriate administrative action.
  3. Any Party: A person privy to information indicating a Relationship, and non-compliance with this rule, should report the Relationship to a responsible supervisor, to Human Resource Services (HRS), and/or to Audit Services.  Alternatively, such reports may be filed through the university’s confidential reporting line, EthicsPoint.
  4. Supervisor:
    1. Supervisors are responsible for managing or otherwise addressing perceived and reported personal conflicts of interest, in coordination with their dean, vice president or equivalent official. If a conflict of interest is unavoidable within the unit, the supervisor should consult with the assistant vice president of human resource services or designee to explore the potential for transfer or other options available within NMSU.
    2. Supervisors are responsible for reporting alleged violations of this policy (non-disclosed and non-managed COI’s) to their dean, vice president or equivalent official, who will consult with the assistant vice president of human resource services.
    3. Supervisors are responsible for disclosing their own Relationships, including consensual relationships which may present a conflict of interest to their dean, vice president or equivalent official. (See also ARP 3.13)
  5. Faculty: By virtue of the position of authority they have in relation to students, faculty are responsible for disclosing Relationships), including consensual relationships (See also ARP 3.05, 3.06 and 3.13).  Faculty are also responsible for working with their department head and dean to manage (when possible) potential and actual conflicts of interest.
  6. Dean, Vice President or Equivalent Official: The dean, vice president or equivalent official, in consultation with the assistant vice president of human resource services is responsible for addressing and resolving situations of actual or perceived nepotism and conflicts of interest based on Relationships, including inappropriate consensual relationships (See also ARP 13).  If a personal conflict of interest is not manageable, the dean, vice president or equivalent official should consult with the assistant vice president of human resource services or designee to consider options available beyond the work unit.  The dean, vice president or equivalent official will document, in memo form, all perceived and reported conflicts of interest and the solutions to manage them and send to the assistant vice president of human resource services.  See Section G. below.
  7. AVP-HRS and CAE: Reports from third parties to HRS or to Audit Services regarding alleged Nepotism or a personal conflict of interest arising from a supervisor in a Relationship will be subject to confidential internal investigation.  The chief audit executive (CAE) and the assistant vice president of human resource services (AVP-HRS) will confer on each case in order to maintain consistency in the standards of review and for consistency in the application of corrective or disciplinary action when the facts substantiate a violation of this rule or other applicable policy, law or contract provision.
  8. AVP – HRS and Provost:  After review of the documentation received from the dean, vice president or equivalent officials, the assistant vice president of human resource services of or designee may refer specific matters of concern for additional review to the provost (faculty in the academic units and community colleges) or to the president (all other personnel).   The decision by the provost or by the president relating to the disposition of a personal conflict of interest is final.