|| Human Resources Director
|| Human Resources
|| President’s Cabinet
|Date of Approval:
|| September 13, 2016
|Date of Last Revision:
|| February 14, 2012
|Next Review Date:
|| September 2017
The integrity of academic and work relationships is the foundation of the University’s educational mission. These relationships vest considerable trust in persons with authority whether as mentor, educator, evaluator and/or administrator. The unequal institutional power inherent in University academic and work relationships heightens the vulnerability of those in subordinate positions.
Reason for Policy/Purpose
The University must protect itself from influences or activities that interfere with intellectual, professional and personal growth, or with the University’s financial interests. Consequently, people in positions of authority within the University community must be sensitive to the potential for conflict of interest as well as sexual harassment in romantic relationships with people over whom they have a professional power/status advantage.
Who Needs to Know this Policy
This policy applies to all faculty, staff, and students.
The individual in authority bears the primary responsibility for any negative consequences resulting from a romantic relationship. It is in the interest of the University to provide clear direction and educational opportunities to the University community about potential professional risks associated with consensual romantic relationships between members of the University community where a power/status advantage exists.
Conflict of Interest
Relationships that are mutual and consensual may be viewed by others as exploitative and may adversely affect the work environment in that serious conflicts of interests may be perceived to exist. In particular, the parties to a romantic relationship should be aware that such relationships often create general conflicts of interest and the fear from co-workers or students of unfair treatment in terms of, for example promotions and grades. Therefore, Heritage University prohibits the parties who are or have been involved in any romantic relationship from evaluating each other.
There are situations sufficiently complex that judgments may differ as to whether there is or may be a conflict of interest, and individuals may inadvertently place themselves in situations where conflict exists. Accordingly, for the common good, should a situation arise in which parties who are or have been involved in any romantic relationship come into a position in which they would normally be called upon to supervise one another, the individual in authority must promptly report this fact to his or her supervisor. The supervisor will then make arrangements to see that those who are or have been involved in any romantic relationship do not evaluate each other. In particular, if a faculty member has had or comes to have a romantic relationship with a student over whom the faculty member has authority as described below, the faculty member must promptly report this to the department chair who will make arrangements for an alternate evaluation mechanism
Malicious Use of This Policy
It is important to avoid conflict of interests resulting from romantic relationships; it is equally important to recognize that malicious accusations of inappropriate romantic relationships have the potential to severely damage a person’s career and reputation. Therefore, Heritage University prohibits making knowingly false accusations that an unreported romantic relationship exists or existed between two parties now in a position to evaluate each other.
Employment of Relatives/Nepotism
The basic criteria for the appointment and promotion of employees in the University shall be appropriate qualifications and performance as set forth in the policies. Relationship by family or marriage shall constitute neither an advantage nor a disadvantage.
No individual shall be employed in a department with the result being the existence of a subordinate-superior relationship between such individual and any relative of such individual through any line of authority. As used herein, “line of authority” shall mean authority extending vertically through one or more organizational levels of supervision or management. Exceptions may be approved by the President upon recommendation as being clearly in the best interest of the institution.
For the purpose of this policy, relatives are defined as spouse, domestic partner, parents and children, (step) siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and any in-laws of any of the foregoing.
Appropriate Response/Disciplinary Action
Should the individual in authority fail to promptly report a romantic relationship with a person the individual in authority evaluates, the individual in authority has violated University policy and is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination as appropriate under the University’s procedures.
Website Address for this Policy
For additional information for faculty and staff, including filing a complaint, please contact the Human Resources Office at firstname.lastname@example.org , or at (509) 865-8617.
For additional information for students, including filing a complaint, please contact Dean of Students/VP of Student Affairs.
Academic Relationship Advantage: A faculty member or other instructor always will be treated as having a power advantage when that faculty member or instructor has authority to assign grades; serves on thesis dissertation, or scholarship awards committees; provides research and/or training opportunities, etc.
Staff Advantage: A staff member will always be treated as having a power advantage when the staff member has the authority to evaluate, determine salary, and/or make employment decisions.
Other Power Advantage: Power advantages also can occur between faculty and administrators, and faculty/administrators and staff.
Related Policies and Resources
Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action
Anti-Harassment – Anti-Discrimination
Romantic Relationship Nepotism Policy
Approved on 09/13/2016