Ethics and Elections Commission Wayne Barnett, Executive Director
About Us|Contact Us
Ethics Elections Elections Lobbying Whistleblower Commission

Ethics Home
Ethics Code
Advisory Opinions
Frequently Asked Questions
- Definitions
- Advice, Getting
- Advisory Boards
- Appearances
- Complaint Procedures
- Confidential Information
- Contractor and Client Information
- Covered Contractors and Vendors
- Family Members
- Financial Interests
- Former City Employees & Officials
- Former Employers and Clients
- Gifts
- Penalties
- Employee Political Activity
- Position, Use of
- Resources, Use of
- Soliciting for Charities
- Supervision


  1. Is it ok for an employee to be assigned as a temporary crew chief over a unit in which his brother-in-law works?

    Answer: No, even for a short period it is not appropriate for an employee to be in an oversight role over an immediate family member. "Immediate family" is broadly defined in the Ethics Code:

  2. "Immediate family" means a spouse or domestic partner, child, child of a spouse or domestic partner, sibling, sibling of a domestic partner, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, parent, parent of a spouse or domestic partner, a person for whom the Covered Individual is a legal guardian, or a person claimed as a dependent on the Covered Individual's most recently filed federal income tax return.
    Even if a temporary or as-needed crew chief does not have occasion to participate in a critical decision during a short assignment, the oversight position puts him or her in a role that is incompatible with the Code. One of the individuals will need to be reassigned for the duration of the out-of-class period. The same is true if the employee will be overseeing the work of anyone in the following list:
    1. an immediate family member;
    2. an individual residing with the employee;
    3. a person the employee serves as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee;
    4. a person with which the employee is seeking or has an arrangement concerning future employment.
    If a person in the crew is not in the above list but a personal or business relationship, activities, or other transactions might cause a reasonable person to question whether the employee's judgment is impaired, then the employee needs to disclose the circumstances in writing to their department head and to the SEEC Executive Director asap. This puts it on the public record, gives management an opportunity to evaluate the potential conflict and take any action it deems appropriate, and protects the employee from violating the Code. Here is a disclosure form to use.
  1. Can I serve on a hiring panel if one of the applicants is a casual friend who I supervised in my former job?

    Answer: Generally, yes. A former supervisory relationship or a friendship does not automatically require you to disqualify yourself from serving on a hiring panel or from taking part in other City actions. In some cases, a former supervisory relationship can help the City better evaluate a potential employee.

    You should disclose the relationship to your fellow panelists, your department head, and the SEEC and, depending on circumstances, you may need to disqualify yourself from the panel if your department makes the determination that your service on the hiring panel would be inappropriate. If you feel that you cannot be impartial, you should make that clear to management and avoid involvement in the process. Here is a disclosure form to use.

    However, you must disqualify yourself from participating on a selection panel if you or anyone in the above list (see Question 1) has a financial interest in the job or contract or if the candidate is your former client or employer within the past year. (There is a narrow exception for dealing with past employers and past clients, so get in touch with us if that's your situation.)
  1. My family business has a contract that is now assigned to my work unit. Is it ok for me to have one of my employees oversee the contract?

    Answer: City supervisors and managers cannot have an interest in any contract, even indirect or through an immediate family member, that is under their chain of command. Your department will need to ensure that the administration of the contract is taken out of your chain of command.

For more assistance, contact SEEC staff.

Last updated September 3, 2010.

Ethics and Elections Home | About Us | Contact Us | Commission | Ethics | Elections | Lobbying | Whistleblower