Policy Statement and Reason 

For the purpose of this policy, employees include Massachusetts and California staff only unless otherwise indicated in the sections below. All provisions of this policy apply, except for employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement, this policy does not create any benefits not expressly provided by that collective bargaining agreement and if there are inconsistencies between this policy and the collective bargaining agreement, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement will govern. 

Emerson College is committed to employment and advancement on qualifications and merit and does not discriminate in favor of or in opposition to the employment of family members of, or others in a relationship with, current faculty or staff employees (“other relationships”). The College is equally committed to maintaining a work environment which is free from actual conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest, and familial or relationship conflicts that negatively affects the working environment.

Therefore, the purpose of this policy is to avoid the potential for or appearance of favoritism, conflicts of interest, or interpersonal conflict related to the employment of family members or employment of those in certain other relationships. 

Policy Guidelines 


This policy is applicable to all staff employees.


Family member 

For the purpose of this policy, “family members” include:

  • parents, stepparents, in-laws, and grandparents
  • spouses, spousal equivalents, and life partners
  • children (including foster children and wards) 
  • siblings and siblings in-law 
  • aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews

Other Relationships

For the purpose of this policy, “Other Relationships” include:

  • dating/romantic relationships
  • former spouses and partners
  • former dating relationships (reviewed on a case-by-case basis)
  • members of the same household, including roommates  

Positions of Influence

For the purpose of this policy, positions of influence are when staff employees are in a position to significantly influence employment-related decisions relating to a family member or person in an Other Relationship even when there is no reporting relationship (e.g., search committee chairs, research or budgetary oversight,  internal investigations). 

Managerial Relationship and/or Direct Reports 

It is the policy of the College that candidates for employment, transfer, promotion, etc. may not work directly for or be managed by family members or those in Other Relationships with the candidate.  In addition, the College prohibits staff employees from working within a structure in which a family member of, or person in an Other Relationship with, the staff employee, reports to the same administrative or academic vice president. This policy also applies to situations where the objectivity of hiring managers, or those in the position to significantly influence employment decisions (Positions of Influence), could be compromised by family members or Other Relationships or may be perceived as such by employees.  

Employment-Related Decisions and Positions of Influence

At times, staff employees may be in positions to influence employment-related decisions of a family member or someone in an Other Relationship outside of any reporting relationships.  In these situations, faculty and staff members must recuse themselves and/or refrain from trying to influence the outcome of employment-related matters of family members or those with whom they have Other Relationships. When potential for significant influence exists, Human Resources in collaboration with the Dean and/or the Provost or Vice Presidents, as appropriate, will implement plans to mitigate the potential for real or perceived conflicts of interest. 

Grandfathered Relationships

As of the effective date of this policy, the College will continue the employment of current staff employees who work directly for, or are managed by, a family member or an employee with whom the staff member is in an Other Relationship or that otherwise would violate this policy. However, the College reserves the right to revisit staff member employment, and managerial or reporting relationships, with the parties involved.  If the College identifies potential conflicts of interest the College may work to mitigate concerns including by altering reporting or managerial relationships.  

Prospective Employment-related Decisions

Hiring managers and those in Positions of Influence must consult with Human Resources and, Deans and/or the Provost, or Vice Presidents and others as appropriate, before taking employment action (hiring, terminating, transferring, promoting, departmental reorganizing, etc.) that could result in a direct reporting relationship with a family member or those with whom they are in an Other Relationship.  


Those with employment authority or in Positions of Influence must consult with Human Resources, Deans and/or the Provost, Vice Presidents and others as appropriate, as soon as they become aware of any existing situations in which employees (staff and/or faculty) are involved in supervising or being consulted in employment-related decisions involving family members or those with whom they are in an Other Relationship. Human Resources, in consultation with the department leadership, will help to identify appropriate options in the individual case. 


The College will not discuss employment related matters of one family member (or person in an Other Relationship with another family member (or person in an Other Relationship) except when necessary to resolve potential violations of this policy, when required under the terms of an applicable Collective Bargaining agreement, or when required by law. 

Other Information 

Related Policies

Responsible Officer

Key Offices to Contact  

Please contact Human Resources for further information regarding this policy and its implementation.  

Links to Procedures or Forms

Not applicable.


The contents of this policy are informational only and are not conditions of employment.  This policy does not create any contractual obligations or alter the at-will employment of the College’s at-will employees. Emerson College reserves the right to modify, revoke, suspend, terminate, or change any and all policies and procedures at any time, with or without notice, as consistent with state and federal law.