BOT 402: Conflict of Interest in Employment

This policy replaces the Employment of Relatives Policy.

Standards for hiring, promotion, reappointment, evaluation, working conditions, responsibilities, salary and termination for all employees at Michigan State University are based on ability, qualifications for the position, and performance. Relationship (meaning connection between persons, hereinafter referred to as "relatives," by blood, marriage, adoption, domestic partnership, or other personal relationship in which objectivity might be impaired) to another individual employed by the University shall not constitute a bar to hiring, promotion or reappointment; provided, however, that no employee shall be under the direct supervision or control of a "relative." Employment of "relatives" in the same unit or department or under the same supervisor is authorized only with the prior written approval of the head of the unit or department and the Office of the Provost or the Office of Human Resource Services, as appropriate. In addition, "relatives" should not participate in roles which have the potential for influencing employment decisions, e.g., peer review.

General Principles:

  1. To avoid possible conflicts of interest, any dean, director, chairperson/supervisor or participant in peer or administrative review procedures who is a "relative" of an employee or job applicant must not participate either formally or informally in decisions (including rendering advice on decisions) on personnel matters affecting the "relative," including, but not limited to, decisions to hire, retain, promote or determine the salary.
  2. In cases where a chairperson/supervisor has primary responsibility for evaluation or for assignment of duties (e.g., a department chairperson's supervision of faculty in the department), no employee may supervise a "relative." An appropriate individual must be designated by a higher level of administrator (e.g., dean, director, provost, vice president, president) to perform the functions of chairperson/supervisor in decisions to hire, retain, promote, assign duties or set the salary of the individual "related" to the chairperson/supervisor.
  3. Within the limitations set forth above, individuals "related" to other MSU employees have all general rights extended to employees in comparable positions. For example, a faculty member has the right to serve on a departmental peer review committee even though a "relative" will be considered by the committee; the faculty member, however, would not participate in the review of the "relative."
  4. Supervision and evaluation procedures, even when altered, should ensure comparable treatment of employees.
  5. In circumstances which have the potential for the conflicts of interest referenced in item #1, above, individuals have the responsibility for disclosing that a conflict of interest may exist to the department chairperson, school director, dean or other relevant administrator or supervisor; the specifics of the potential conflict do not have to be provided.

Decisions about individual cases should be made on the basis of these principles. In cases where the application of a principle is disputed, the administrator/supervisor at the next level may be asked to assist in resolution. The Office of the Provost/Office of the Executive Vice President for Administrative Services has final approval regarding application of the general principles to particular cases.

Enacted: 12/8/95

Retired Policy No. 04-17-01