Human Resources

Consensual Relationship Policy

Section: Human Resources Policies
Policy Name: Consensual Relationship Policy
Policy Owner: Executive Vice President
Responsible University Office: Office of Human Resources
Origination Date: August 25, 1998
Revisions: October 31, 2005; May 5, 2006; October 9, 2009; July 1, 2010; April 30, 2012; Jan. 9, 2015; July 1, 2015; May 7, 2020
Legacy Policy Number: 4-29
  1. PURPOSEThis policy applies to all members of the University community, including employees, faculty, students, volunteers, and contractors.
    Consensual Relationship: A romantic or sexual relationship in which all parties have consented to the relationship.
  3. POLICY STATEMENTRomantic and/or sexual relationships (hereafter referred to as “consensual relationships”) that occur in educational or supervisory contexts present serious ethical concerns and can compromise the University’s academic and working environment even when all parties consent to the relationship. Relationships between students/employees and their teachers, advisors, teaching/graduate assistants, coaches, and/or supervisors should be conducted in a way that avoid potential conflicts of interest, exploitation, or bias. For example, a conflict of interest arises when an individual evaluates the work or performance of a person with whom he or she is engaged in a consensual relationship because of the inherent power differential.
    1. An employee shall not exercise academic responsibility (instructional, evaluative, or supervisory) for any student with whom the employee has a consensual relationship.
    2. An employee shall not conduct performance evaluations, or make salary decisions, decisions regarding promotion and tenure, or decisions on continuation of employment for a person with whom he or she has a consensual relationship.
    3. Consensual relationships are prohibited when effective arrangements to remove the conflict and mitigate adverse effects on third parties cannot be made.
    1. An employee entering or in a consensual relationship as defined in this policy, or a current or prospective employee offered a position who will be in such a relationship should the position be accepted, shall immediately:
      1. Report the relationship to a higher level administrator, to the hiring official, or to an administrator above the hiring official; and
      2. Cooperate in actions taken to eliminate any actual or potential conflicts of interest and to mitigate adverse effects on third parties.
    2. The administrator or official who receives the report shall:
      1. Treat the information as confidentially as possible;
      2. Promptly eliminate conflicts of interest and mitigate adverse effects on third parties by:
        1. Transferring one of the individuals to another position; or
        2. Transferring supervisory, decision-making, evaluative, academic or advisory responsibilities; or
        3. Providing an additional layer of oversight to the supervisory role; and
      3. Document the steps taken.

      The administrator or official should consult with the Office of Human Resources for assistance in complying with these steps.

    3. Non-Retaliation: Retaliation against persons who report concerns about consensual relationships is prohibited and constitutes a violation of this policy.
    4. Complaints: Complaints alleging harassment or bias may be filed by either party to the consensual relationship or by an aggrieved party outside the relationship affected by the perceived harassment or bias. Such reports should be made to the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Office of Student Conduct or the Office of Human Resources as appropriate.