Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, Nepotism and Outside Activities

Policy Type: 

I. Policy: Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, Nepotism and Outside Activities

II. Who Does This Policy Affect

HFC Board of Trustees, all employees, independent contractors, volunteers, and purchasing vendors are affected by this policy.

III. Purpose

The purpose of the Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment/Nepotism Policy is to set forth Henry Ford College’s (“HFC”) Trustee and employee activities that constitute a conflict of interest and which may jeopardize the College's mission and interfere with HFC's highest standard of excellence and integrity, and to notify Trustees and employees of potential ramifications of policy violations. The described conduct, and the conflict of interest rules stated in this policy that may result in a violation, is not an exhaustive list. Trustees and employees are expected to also use their good judgment and common sense in following this policy.

IV. Policy Statement:

Employees of HFC and members of its Board of Trustees are expected to exemplify the highest personal and professional standards of integrity, truthfulness, honesty and diligence. In order to serve the HFC community and to maintain public confidence and trust in the operations of the College, the following Conflicts of Interest rules have been adopted.

All members of the Board of Trustees and College employees are required to familiarize themselves with and to abide by this Conflicts of Interest Policy. The Trustees and employees are expected to comply with applicable state laws which govern standards of conduct for public officers and public employees and govern contracts of public servants with public entities. HFC trustees and employees are notified that censure or disciplinary action may result from a violation of these rules and that any such disciplinary action shall be based on the assumption that employees and Trustees are familiar with the contents of this Policy and state law. Violations of this Policy will be brought to the attention of the Board of Trustees and may be the subject of Board action, and in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements.

This Policy does not provide an exhaustive list of prohibited conflicts of interest. The absence of a rule relating to an individual’s actions does not mean the conduct is condoned or that disciplinary action may not result.

1. Conflicts of Interest

A conflict of interest, or a potential conflict of interest, occurs whenever an employee (or trustee) by reason of their status as such, is in a position to influence a decision that may result in personal gain for that employee or trustee or for their family member[for example a spouse, significant other, children, parents or siblings] and such personal gain is in conflict with the employees or trustees duty and responsibilities to HFC. By way of example a financial interest may be one involving the employee or Trustee, the individual's spouse, minor child, partner, or organization in which the employee or Trustee is serving as an officer, director, partner or employee or is negotiating or has any arrangements concerning prospective employment.

Except as specifically permitted by statute, employees and Trustees shall not engage in any business transaction in which the public officer or employee may profit from his/her official position or authority or benefit financially from confidential information which the employee or Trustee has obtained or may obtain by reason of that position or authority. No employee or Trustee shall take advantage of any professional relationship he/she may have with any employee, client or student, or the parents of such clients or students, in the course of their employment with or service on the Board of Trustees of the College.

No employee or Trustee shall be a party to or have substantial interest in, as defined by state law, M.C.L. 15.322, any contract (excluding his/her employment agreement) with the College where the employee or Trustee is involved with the decision to purchase such goods or services, unless the requirements of M.C.L. 15.321 et seq. and M.C.L. 15.181 et seq. are strictly met. The executive or Trustee must promptly disclose any financial interest in the contract to the Board of Trustees, which disclosures shall be made a matter at a Board of Trustees' meeting. The contract must be approved by a vote of not less than 2/3 of the full membership of the Board of Trustees in open session with the Trustee who makes disclosure abstaining from the vote. The minutes of the Board's open meeting must contain the name of each party involved in the contract; the terms of the contract, including duration, financial consideration between the parties, facilities or services of the College included in the contract, and the nature and degree of assignment of College employees for fulfillment of the contract; and the nature of any pecuniary interest of the employee or Trustee who makes disclosure.

2. Outside Activities and Employment

Employees and Trustees shall not engage in any outside activity where there may be a possible conflict, or the appearance of a conflict, between his/her private interests and his/her official duties and responsibilities. In order to avoid using one's official position for inappropriate personal gain, the following additional rules must be observed:

1. The outside employment or activity must not result in improper use of official information obtained in connection with the employee's or Trustee's duties or position.

2. The nature of employment or business activity or the hours to be devoted to such outside activity will not impair the employee's or Trustee's exercise of independent judgment, availability, capacity, or efficiency for the performance of his/or her College duties.

3. The employee or Trustee will not in any manner advertise or make it known that he/she works for the College or sits as a member of the Board of Trustees in order to generate or enhance business.

4. The employee or Trustee will not do indirectly, i.e., in the name of or through family members, that which he/she is prohibited from doing directly.

5. Without a valid reason, employees and Trustees shall not be excused from their responsibilities to pursue an outside activity or interest.

6. Employees or Trustees shall not use school property or school time to solicit or accept customers for private enterprises without written administrative permission.

7. Employees or Trustees shall not engage in business transactions on behalf of private enterprises in which he/she may profit by virtue of his/her official position or authority or benefit financially from confidential information which the employee has obtained or may obtain by reason of his/her position. Employees shall keep in confidence all legally confidential information.

8. In order to prevent interference with the orderly operations of the College, and to avoid any potential or actual conflict of interest, employees and Trustees shall not campaign on school property on behalf of any political issue or candidate for local, state or national office during working time or while performing their employment duties, in conformity with applicable laws and regulations ( such as, but not limited to, Federal tax laws, Michigan Campaign and Finance Act, MCL 169.257 et seq .)

If College employees or Trustees choose to become actively involved in political campaigns, they must do so on their own time, acting and speaking on their own behalf and not on behalf of the College. The employees or Trustees must use their own personal time, funds and resources.

9. Employees or Trustees should avoid conduct and associations outside the school which, if known, could have an adverse or harmful effect upon the school community.

10. Employees or Trustees should refrain from expressions that would disrupt harmony among their co-workers or interfere with the maintenance of discipline by school officials.

11. Employees or Trustees shall avoid accepting anything of value offered by another for the purpose of influencing judgment.

12. Prior to engaging in outside employment or business activities, employees not covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) shall address and resolve concerns regarding possible conflicts, or the appearance of a conflict, at the Division/Department level. If the concerns of the employee is not able to be resolved at that level, the concern may be brought in writing to the President or his/her designee. In the event the person requesting such permission is the President of the College, written permission shall be obtained from the Chair of the Board of Trustees. Employees subject to a CBA , or their Bargaining Agent, may address possible conflicts of interest at the Division/Departmental level or through their respective Bargaining Unit contractual grievance procedures, if applicable.

3. Supplemental Employment

The College recognizes that some of its employees have other employment outside of the College (i.e., adjunct faculty and part-time employees). This Policy is not intended to interfere with the employee’s supplemental employment, which is of a private nature and unrelated to the College’s business, provided such supplemental employment does not conflict with their duties as an employee of the College and does not conflict with their Collective Bargaining Agreement. The supplemental employment must be performed outside the employee’s College working time. The supplemental employment should not interfere with the employee’s assigned duties and responsibilities at the College.

4. Self-Disqualification From Certain Assignments or Matters

An employee or Trustee having been assigned any duty, responsibility, or work assignment or having been presented with an issue upon which he/she must deliberate and
vote, which might create a real or apparent conflict of interest, must promptly bring the specific facts and circumstances to the attention of their immediate division or department supervisor who shall then address it with either the President of the College or the Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Whenever a matter requiring action by the Board of Trustees involves an outside business activity or governmental unit with which a Trustee has an interest as described above, the Board member shall disclose such interest or relationship in writing to the Chair of the Board of Trustees and shall abstain from commenting or voting on the matter.

5. Speeches and Publications

When public addresses and articles for publication are performed as an official duty or in an official capacity, the employee or Trustee may not accept a fee, salary, honorarium, or other compensation from any source other than the State of Michigan, HFC or the Dearborn Public Schools. Reasonable reimbursement for travel, lodging, meals, or nominal courtesies may be accepted. Where any such activity is performed in a private capacity, employees may accept a fee, salary, or other compensation provided that their activity is consistent with the rules contained in this Policy.

6. Gifts and Gratuities

Except as stated in the "Exceptions and Guidelines" provisions listed below, an employee or Trustee may not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, or loan
; opportunity to purchase an item at cost, discount, or bargain price, unless such opportunity is available to the general public; or other thing of monetary value from a person or entity which:

1. Has or is seeking to obtain, contractual or other business or financial relations with the HFC or the Dearborn Public Schools;
2. Conducts operations or activities that are affected by the HFC or the Dearborn Public Schools; or
3. Has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of the employee's official duty or by a Trustee's vote or efforts to persuade other Trustees to vote in a given manner.

Exceptions and Guidelines

1. Employees or Trustees may accept gifts, entertainment, and food when it is clear that it is solely for family or personal relationships.
2. Employees or Trustees in attendance in their official capacity, either as an active participant or College representative, at organized functions which have been considered appropriate and important ones to attend because of the recognized benefits of such attendance to College operations, may accept food and refreshments of nominal value on infrequent occasions. Acceptance of food, refreshment, and entertainment of nominal value on infrequent occasions in other situations where there is no organized function is permitted when such action occurs in a setting where discussion involving, or beneficial to, the College may occur.
3. Employees or Trustees may accept non-solicited advertising or promotional material, such as pens, pencils, note pads, calendars, and other items of nominal intrinsic value.

7. Nepotism and Personal Relationships in the Workplace

1. HFC supports an environment where employees maintain clear boundaries between employee personal and business interactions Individuals in supervisory relationships or other influential roles are subject to more stringent requirements under this policy because of their access to sensitive information, and their ability to influence employment decisions.

2. Family members of current HFC employees may become employees of the College. However, the appointment must be approved by the Vice President of Human Resources or the President or his/her designee, who will determine whether there is any conflict of interest. Student workers may be approved for employment by the Assistant Director of Human Resources, in consultation with the Vice President of Human Resources.

3. For the purpose of this policy, “relative” is defined as a member of the employee’s immediate family which includes: spouse, parent, child, grandparent, sibling, grandchild, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, step-parent, step-child, domestic partner, or legal guardian or other person who stands in the place of a parent.

4. An employee who is related to, or involved in a personal relationship with another employee may not work directly for or supervise that employee. A “personal relationship” is considered a relationship between individuals who have, or had, a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. HFC reserves the right to take prompt action if an actual or potential conflict of interest arises concerning individuals who occupy positions at any level (higher or lower) in the same line of authority that may affect employment decisions. Matters such as hiring, firing, promotions, performance management, compensation decisions, financial transactions, etc. are examples of situations that may require reallocation of duties and personnel to avoid any actual or perceived reward or disadvantage. Student workers may be employed in the same department as a family member but may not be supervised by a family member.

a. In cases where it is necessary to transfer one of the employees to another position or department, the individual with the more senior position with be considered for transfer first to avoid any perception of retaliation against the less senior person.

b. Where doubts exist as to the specific meaning of the terms used above, employees should make judgments on the basis of the overall spirit and intent of this policy. Employees may seek clarification and direction from their immediate supervisors.

8. Faculty/Staff Personal Relationships

Personal relationships between faculty and students enrolled in the faculty’s course are prohibited.

9. Employment By Henry Ford College or the Dearborn Public Schools

No member of the Board of Trustees shall accept employment with the College or the Dearborn Public Schools as an employee during the term for which the Board member was elected or appointed to office.

V. Definitions

See Policy Statement above.

VI. Responsible Party for Policy Interpretation/Review

Human Resources

VII. Related Documents

• Employee Collective Bargaining Agreements

• Computer Systems Acceptable Use Policy

• Standards of Conduct and Civility

VIII. Policy History

a. Adopted by Board: February 20, 1995
b. Previous Policy Section(s) and Numbers: Administration; Previous Policy No. 1100
Professional Staff; Previous Policy Nos. 4950 and 4650
Support Staff; Previous Policy Nos. 9450 and 9700


June 19, 2023 - updated to add "Conflict of Commitment" to policy title
September 15, 2021 - Reviewed with no changes
September 18, 2017
October 15, 2012

This policy supersedes and replaces any and all policies related to this subject

Adopted Date: 
Monday, February 20, 1995
Revised Date: 
Monday, October 15, 2012
Monday, September 18, 2017
Board Approved