Relationships in the Workplace

Policy no. I-13
Effective date: 01/01/2008
Scope: faculty, staff and student employees
Defintions:
“Family" for the purpose of this policy, is defined as all relatives, such as, but not limited to the following: spouses, relatives by marriage, domestic partners (as defined in the university’s affidavit of domestic partners), children (including step-children and foster children), parents, step-parents, grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws, siblings (including step-brothers and step-sisters), cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.

This definition is not to be construed to exclude the possibility of questions of favoritism arising with regard to other family members, or other close personal or external business relationships.

“Domestic Partners” for the purpose of this policy, refers to two individuals of the same or opposite sex who meet the criteria as defined in the University’s affidavit of domestic partners.

“Significant Others” for the purpose of this policy, includes individuals who are dating or engaged to be married but may or may not reside together.

“Favoritism” for the purpose of this policy, favoritism is defined as the basing of decisions regarding hiring, selection, promotion, wages, hours, or other conditions of employment on relationship rather than on objective standards and the needs of the university.

“Nepotism” for the purpose of this policy, nepotism is defined as favoritism toward family members.

 

Policy Statement

The university strives to be a family-friendly workplace and is committed to maintaining an environment in which members of the university community can work together to further education, research and community service. This policy provides guidelines for family members, domestic partners, significant others, and/or similar personal and consensual relationships, in the workplace.

 

Conflicting Employment Relationships:

The University permits the employment of qualified family members, domestic partners, significant others and/or similar personal relationship of employees as long as such employment does not create a conflict of interest. In accordance with Case’s employment policies, the basic criteria for employee selection or promotion shall be appropriate qualifications in terms of education, experience, training and performance, consistent with Case’s needs. Relationships by family, marriage, domestic partnership and/or similar personal relationship shall constitute neither an advantage nor a disadvantage to selection, promotion, salary, or other conditions of employment.

The University will exercise sound business judgment in the placement of relatives, domestic partners, significant others and/or similar personal relationship in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • No person shall be employed by, transferred to or promoted into a department or area where a supervisory relationship would exist between family members, domestic partners, significant others and/or similar personal relationship. Such relationships exist when either family members, domestic partners, significant others and/or similar personal relationships could have supervisory authority over the other’s performance evaluation, salary, work hours, or other conditions of employment.
  • Employees should neither initiate nor participate, directly or indirectly, in employment actions (initial employment or appointment, retention, promotions, salary, work assignments, leave of absence, etc.) involving family members, domestic partners, significant others and/or similar personal relationships.
  • If two employees become family members, domestic partners, significant others and/or a similar personal relationship, both may retain their positions, provided one is not under the direct or indirect supervision of the other. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to advise Employee Relations if such a relationship exists. If one is under direct or indirect supervision of the other, a management plan must be formulated to address the supervisory relationship.

Case recognizes that at times, employees and their “family members”, “domestic partners”, “significant others” and/or “personal relationships” may be assigned to positions that create a coworker or supervisor-subordinate relationship. Case will, in its discretion, exercise sound judgment with respect to the placement of employees in these situations in order to avoid the creation of a conflict or the appearance of a conflict of interest, avoid favoritism or the appearance of favoritism, and decrease the likelihood of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Consensual Relationships:

Case is a community that values an environment of inclusion, trust and respect as beneficial for the working and learning environment of all its constituents. Romantic or sexual relationships may occur in a University environment. All relationships must be consensual but, even though the relationship is consensual, it can raise serious concerns about the validity of the consent, conflicts of interest, and favoritism. All faculty, staff and students must abide by the Consensual Relationships Policy (I-10) to address such concerns.

Relationships with Students:

When staff members interact with students, staff members are frequently in a position of trust and influence. These relationships must not jeopardize the effective functioning of the University by the appearance of either favoritism or unfairness in the exercise of professional judgment. In relationships with students, the staff member is expected to be aware of his/her professional responsibilities and to avoid apparent or actual conflict of interest, favoritism or bias. All relationships must be consensual but, even though the relationship is consensual, it can raise serious concerns about the validity of the consent, conflicts of interest, and favoritism. All faculty, staff and students must abide by the Consensual Relationships Policy (I-10) to address such concerns.

General:

Allegations, reports or other information concerning an unreported inappropriate relationship where one party has evaluative or supervisory responsibilities over the other party will be investigated. Supervisors, department chairs, deans, or other responsible persons must report all allegations to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (if the alleged violation is by a faculty or staff member) or the Office of Student Affairs (student or residential staff member). Potential noncompliance with the policy will be reported by the above-listed supervisors, department chairs, deans, or other responsible persons to Human Resources and investigated by the appropriate offices listed above. If noncompliance is ascertained, measures will be taken to ensure suitable supervision/evaluation of the student or supervisee, and appropriate disciplinary measures with regard to the supervisor/faculty member will be taken.

If staff, whether or not involved in the relationship, believe they have been, or are being, adversely affected, they are encouraged to contact the Employee Relations Office. When relationships develop into situations that may be viewed as harassment or discrimination, staff members should refer to the Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Policy (I-1) and Sexual Harassment Complaints Procedure (I-1a). If questions or concerns arise regarding potential harassment or discrimination, the staff member should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

Policy Administration: Employee Relations, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, Department Administrators and Supervisors.

References: Affirmative Action Policy/Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedure (I-1,I-1a) Consensual Relationships Policy (I-10)