Policies & Procedures


Section 1

Business and Financial Affairs

General Administration

Sec. 700-16: Policy on Conflicts of Interest Created By Consensual Relationships

Responsible Administrator: Sexual Harassment/Title IX Officer
Issued: January 2005 (technical edits October 2020)

References / Resources

Contact: Sexual Harassment Officer at 949-824-5594 or oeod@uci.edu

A. Introduction

A consensual relationship, for purposes of this policy, is defined as one in which two individuals are involved by mutual consent in a romantic, physically intimate, and/or sexual relationship. This definition includes domestic partners and spouses. A consensual relationship that might be appropriate in other circumstances is inappropriate and poses a potential conflict of interest when one individual has responsibility for supervising, directing, overseeing, evaluating, advising, or influencing the employment or educational status of the other. It is always the responsibility of the individual in authority to maintain appropriate professional boundaries. Individuals in authority are expected to be aware of their professional responsibilities and avoid apparent or actual conflict of interest, favoritism, or bias.

This policy addresses potential conflict of interest situations applicable to all members of the University community: faculty and other academic personnel; students; senior managers, including Officers, Chancellors, Vice Chancellors, and Deans; staff employees; and contract employees. Faculty also are covered by additional requirements in the Academic Personnel Policy APM-015, Faculty Code of Conduct. Other members of the University community, such as health care providers, may be covered by additional legal and/or licensure requirements with regard to their relationships with clients.

B. Policy

Because of the potential for a conflict of interest, any member of the University community who enters into a consensual relationship with someone over whom they have supervisory, decision-making, oversight, evaluative, or advisory responsibilities shall take effective steps to remove themselves from any professional decisions concerning that individual. The individual in authority shall eliminate, or arrange with their supervisor to eliminate, any potential conflict of interest. Ways to eliminate conflicts of interest may include, but are not limited to, transfer of either individual to another position; transfer of supervisory, decision-making, oversight, evaluative, or advisory responsibilities to another employee or team of employees; or providing an additional layer of oversight to the supervisory role.

The University recognizes that a consensual relationship may exist prior to the time an individual is assigned to a supervisor. Supervisory, decision-making, oversight, evaluative, or advisory responsibilities for someone with whom there exists a consensual relationship shall not be accepted unless effective steps can be taken to eliminate any potential conflict of interest in accordance with this policy.

This policy is intended to apply to all types of conflicts of interests created by consensual relationships within the University community where one individual has power or authority over the other. Relationships covered by this policy include, but are not limited to, relationships between supervisor and supervisee; faculty and staff; faculty and student (in situations not covered by APM-015, Faculty Code of Conduct); coach and student; student and student; and housestaff or postdoctoral scholar and other housestaff, other postdoctoral scholar, or other employee.

C. Failure to Comply with this Policy

Failure to comply with the above requirements shall be considered a violation of University policy. The UCI Sexual Harassment/Title IX Officer (SHO) is the designated resource for resolution of complaints under this policy and complaints will be processed using the procedures for sexual harassment complaints. If sufficient evidence of violation of the policy is found, the SHO will forward a report of findings to the appropriate administrator for disciplinary action. In addition, the SHO will coordinate educational opportunities for faculty and other academic personnel, students, and staff employees to promote an understanding of and compliance with this policy.