Nepotism, Cronyism, & Favoritism: Illegal Or Unethical?

Nepotism in its simplest form is showing favoritism towards relatives. On the other hand, the less commonly thrown around term (yet more commonly occurring) cronyism, is showing favoritism towards friends, associates, or colleagues.

In general, they both typically involve “playing favorites.” Situations like choosing a relative for the job when there were more qualified applicants, promoting the office suck-up based on their relationship to management versus on job merit, or starting friends and family off at a higher pay rate with lesser qualifications count as favoritism. But favoritism (or “playing favorites”) isn’t always the simplest thing to define and, more often than not, depends on the perspective.

For example, a situation where someone was offered a promotion because they were related, not based on their work record, is unfair – but not usually discriminatory. The person who offered a friend or family member the promotion could just get along better with this person, be less critical of their work, or could genuinely see value in their work even if you don’t simply because they’re closer to them.

Which leads us to the question: when (if ever) is nepotism illegal?

 

Is Nepotism Illegal In The Workplace?

Nepotism itself is not illegal in the private sector. This means any company you work for  – unless you’re employed by the government or some public entity – does not have many (if any) laws banning, prohibiting, or otherwise punishing nepotism or cronyism. Without this lack of law, family-run and owned businesses wouldn’t be a thing.

However, nepotism is still a form of favoritism. Now favoritism isn’t inherently illegal, either – but in some cases, it crosses the line into discrimination. Just where this line is, and how to prove that this line has been crossed is trickier still.

Say Sarah and Emily have the same job, in the same department, and have the same experience, but Sarah consistently outperforms Emily. But Emily is related to their boss and when the opportunity for a promotion opens up, Emily gets offered the job. Is that illegal?

No, someone being offered a promotion because of their relation to management (or even their ability to obnoxiously suck up to management) is favoritism – but it hasn’t crossed the line to discrimination.

 

When Does Favoritism Become Illegal?

If Emily from the example above wasn’t related to the boss and was being favored due to her age, race, gender, or any other legally protected characteristic instead, then it becomes illegal. Because if Sarah is more qualified, but being overlooked due to a protected characteristic, it’s discrimination. But it would be hard to prove definitively.

Say Emily’s older than Sarah, so the boss feels that Emily is more competent – even though they have the same experience and Sarah outperforms Emily. But if Emily and the boss get along better because of his bias towards her age, then the boss could easily argue he promoted Emily because he liked her better. Even though this would still be super unfair, it wouldn’t be illegal.

In this same situation, if a clear pattern starts to emerge where – all other things equal – this supervisor consistently overlooks younger people for promotions, then there’s certainly a case for discrimination. If you feel like you are being discriminated against, we have some resources to help you figure out your options.

Favoritism is also illegal when it becomes sexual harassment.

 

The Paramour Preference

When a boss favors someone who they have a consensual sexual relationship with over someone they don’t have a sexual relationship with, that’s still not necessarily illegal. Typically unethical and could constitute as nepotism or cronyism – but not illegal. When this becomes illegal is when they favor the person they’re in a sexual relationship with and.or punish the person (or people) who denied engaging in a sexual relationship with them.

Say person A got a promotion after they engaged in a sexual relationship with their superior, but person B got fired and person C got demoted after both denied this same superior.

At that point, it goes from being cronyism (or nepotism depending on the relationship with person A) to sexual harassment and – in some cases – discrimination. Typically, for discrimination to come into play in a sexual harassment case, sexual orientation or another protected characteristic would need to be a factor.

For example, if person B denied a sexual relationship with their superior because of their sexual orientation and got fired, while person C denied a sexual relationship with their superior without sexual orientation being a factor and simply got demoted – this would likely push this interaction over the line to discriminatory. Providing all else is equal between person B and person C, of course.

It can also be sexual harassment in some cases if the superior is attempting to “win over” someone by favoring them in the hopes their relationship will turn sexual. But, again, the circumstances surrounding that one are tricky. It’s hard to point to where the action crosses the line into harassment or discrimination. The superior could easily say they promoted one person over the other because they’re in a relationship or, in the latter case, because they like them more than the other person. Which, in either case, could be entirely true.

Again, it would be totally unfair and a terrible management practice – but not necessarily illegal. And, again, not the easiest case to prove in either situation. But if you feel sexually harassed, don’t let that discourage you from trying to put a stop to it.

 

When Are Nepotism & Cronyism Illegal In The Workplace?

Nepotism and cronyism in the private sector become illegal when it breaches a contract, becomes discriminatory, or involves sexual harassment. Although contract breaches are probably the easiest to prove.

Most jobs require some form of contract – whether you realize you’d signed one or not. That stack of paperwork you sign when you start a job usually outlines an adherence to the company policies and terms of the job. Most of the time – though not all the time – this outlines what the company will and won’t tolerate for relationships in the workplace and what counts as a conflict of interest.

Nepotism and cronyism almost always count as a conflict of interest in the general sense, but if your company is privately held, what counts as a conflict of interest to them in a whole other matter. For publically traded companies, under the Sarbanes-Oxley act (2002,) management officials are required to disclose conflict of interest to potential and current stakeholders. This means if the company you work for sold all or part of itself during an IPO (initial public offering,) they’re required by law to disclose the hiring of family or friends to their investors.

If they fail(ed) to do so and someone reports their failure to disclose this information, that means that conflicts were hidden will likely lead to an SEC investigation. If you report your employer for this failure to disclose, you’ll be protected from punishment under the whistleblower act.

Nepotism and – to a much lesser extent – cronyism are also illegal in government entities.

 

Nepotism Laws By State

Many states have an anti-nepotism law for public officials such as senators, people in congress, and in some cases police departments or other government entities. In most states (even the ones that don’t have anti-nepotism laws) conflict of interest laws still apply to both government entities and to publicly traded companies under the Surbanes-Oxley act.

Each state has laws that govern what relationships count under the law, what the repercussions for breaking the law are, and who this law applies to. In some cases, relationships defined by blood (consanguinity) are more penalized than those defined by marriage (affinity.) Some laws only count immediate family while others count family members that are four or more degrees out (ie: third cousins or your great aunt three times removed.) In rarer cases, some states define their degrees differently.

This table is from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

State Nepotism Laws
Alabama No officer or employee of the state shall appoint or enter a personal service contract with any person related to him or her within the fourth degree of affinity or consanguinity (e.g. first cousin or great niece or nephew) to any job, position, or office of profit with the state or with any of its agencies. Appointments in violation of this provision are invalid and considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment not to exceed one year for both the appointee and appointor. Ala. Code § 41-1-5.
Alaska Related individual may not be employed for compensation during the legislative session in which the legislator is a member by an agency of the legislature, in either house during the interim between sessions, or whether for compensation or not if the legislator has supervisory authority over the related person. “Related” is limited to immediate family or a domestic partner living together in a conjugal relationship. Alaska Stat. Ann. § 24.60.090.
Arizona It is unlawful to appoint a related person to the third degree (e.g. great grandparent, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, or great grandchild) or closer. Class 2 misdemeanor for violation of the provision. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 38-481.

Class 2 misdemeanors are punishable by up to four months imprisonment and a fine of not more than $750. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-707 & 13-802.

Arkansas A person may not be appointed as a member or hired as an employee to a state board or commission to which a relative within the second degree (e.g. grandparent, sibling, or grandchild) is a member or employee. Ark. Code Ann. § 21-8-101.
California No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Colorado No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Connecticut No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Delaware No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
District of Columbia A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for the appointment, employment, promotion or advancement of any relative regarding a position in an agency the public official is serving or exercises jurisdiction over. Exceptions allowed for temporary employment in emergency situations. “Relative” includes: father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister. D.C. Code Ann. § 1-618.04.
Florida Nepotism restriction applies to positions in an agency over which the official is serving or exercises jurisdiction or control. Exceptions apply for municipalities with a population of less than 35,000 or those serving in a volunteer capacity. “Relative” includes: father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 112.3135.
Georgia Nepotism restriction applies to family members appointed to a public employee position that pays $10,000 or more or its equivalent. Ga. Code Ann. § 45-10-80. “Member of the family” means a spouse and all dependent children. Ga. Code Ann. § 21-5-3.
Guam No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Hawaii No explicit prohibition against nepotism was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply. Additionally, there are a few context-specific nepotism prohibitions, such as within the context of administering grants. See e.g. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 210D-11.
Idaho No public official shall appoint or vote for the appointment of any person related within the second degree. Violations punishable as a misdemeanor. Idaho Code Ann. § 18-1359. A violation is punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, or by incarceration not to exceed 1 year, or both. Idaho Code Ann. § 18-1360.

No person related to a legislator within the second degree shall be appointed to any clerkship, office, position, employment or duty within the legislative branch when the position would be paid out of public funds. Idaho Code Ann. § 18-1359.

Illinois No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Indiana An individual may not be employed in the same agency in which an individual’s relative is the appointing authority. An individual may not be placed in a relative’s direct line of supervision. Exception to the preceding two prohibitions: when the individual has been employed in the same agency for at least 12 consecutive months preceding the date the individual’s relative becomes the appointing authority. An individual employed in an agency may not contract with or supervise the work of a business entity of which a relative is a partner, executive officer, or sole proprietor. Ind. Code Ann. § 4-2-6-16.

Possible penalties for violation of this chapter include: (from Ind. Code Ann. § 4-2-6-12)

§  (1) Impose a civil penalty upon a respondent not to exceed 3 times the value of any benefit received from the violation.

§  (2) Cancel a contract.

§  (3) Bar a person from entering into a contract with an agency or a state officer for a period specified by the commission.

§  (4) Order restitution or disgorgement.

§  (5) Reprimand, suspend, or terminate an employee or a special state appointee.

§  (6) Reprimand or recommend the impeachment of a state officer.

§  (7) Bar a person from future state employment as an employee or future appointment as a special state appointee.

§  (8) Revoke a license or permit issued by an agency.

§  (9) Bar a person from obtaining a license or permit issued by an agency.

§  (10) Revoke the registration of a person registered as a lobbyist under IC 4-2-8.

§  (11) Bar a person from future lobbying activity with a state officer or agency.

Iowa Unlawful for any person elected or appointed to any public office or position under the laws of the state or by virtue of the ordinance of any city in the state, to appoint as deputy, clerk, or helper in said office or position to be paid from the public funds, any person related by consanguinity or affinity, within the third degree, to the person elected, appointed, or making said appointment, unless such appointment shall first be approved by the officer, board, council, or commission whose duty it is to approve the bond of the principal; provided this provision shall not apply in cases where such person appointed receives compensation at the rate of six hundred dollars per year or less, nor shall it apply to persons teaching in public schools, nor shall it apply to the employment of clerks of members of the general assembly. Iowa Code Ann. § 71.1.
Kansas No state officer or employee shall advocate or cause the employment, appointment, promotion, transfer or advancement to any office or position of the state, of a member of such officer’s or employee’s household or a family member. No state officer or employee shall participate in an action relating to the employment or discipline of a member of the officer’s or employee’s household or a family member. No penalties specified, except that the governmental ethics commission is responsible for interpretation and oversight. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 46-246a.
Kentucky Prohibition against the hiring of a member of a legislator’s family within the legislative branch of government, and a prohibition against a legislator participating in the discipline of or advocating for the employment, promotion, etc. of a family member with the executive or legislative branch. A violation of this section is ethical misconduct. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6.754. “Family member” includes: spouse, parent, sibling, child, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or a dependent member of the individual’s household. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6.611. Penalty is a maximum fine of $250. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 534.040.
Louisiana A family member may not serve as a legislative assistant. La. Stat. Ann. § 24:31.5. No member of the immediate family of a member of a governing authority or the chief executive of a governmental entity shall be employed by the governmental entity. Limited exceptions apply. La. Stat. Ann. § 42:1119.
Maine No explicit prohibition against nepotism was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.

NOTE: The statement of policy in the statutory section on the Maine Civil Service System, Bureau of Human Resources mentions a general interest in having a government free from nepotism, but it is not clear that the provision would establish any particular legal restriction or duty regarding legislators or other public officials. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 5, § 7031.

Maryland A member of the General Assembly may not employ for legislative business the member’s own relative, or the relative of another member from the same legislative district, using public funds over which the member has direct control. Does not apply to members who have physical impairment that necessitates the employment of a particular relative and if employment is disclosed to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t § 2-107.
Massachusetts No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Michigan No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Minnesota No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Mississippi Unlawful for any person elected, appointed or selected to any state, county, etc. office to appoint or employ as an officer, clerk, stenographer, deputy or assistant paid out of public funds, any person related within the 3rd degree. Some exceptions may apply. Miss. Code. Ann. § 25-1-53.
Missouri Any public officer or employee in this state who by virtue of his office or employment names or appoints to public office or employment any relative within the fourth degree, by consanguinity or affinity, shall thereby forfeit his office or employment. V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 7, § 6.
Montana Nepotism is the bestowal of political patronage by reason of relationship rather than of merit. Mont. Code Ann. § 2-2-301. It is unlawful for a person or member of any board, bureau, or commission or employee at the head of a department of this state or any political subdivision of this state to appoint to any position of trust or emolument any person related or connected by consanguinity within the fourth degree or by affinity within the second degree. Exceptions: (a) a sheriff in the appointment of a person as a cook or an attendant; (b) school district trustees if all the trustees, with the exception of any trustee who is related to the person being appointed and who must abstain from voting for the appointment, approve the appointment of a person related to a trustee; (c) a school district in the employment of a person as a substitute teacher who is not employed as a substitute teacher for more than 30 consecutive school days; (d) the renewal of an employment contract of a person who was initially hired before the member of the board, bureau, or commission or the department head to whom the person is related assumed the duties of the office; (e) the employment of election judges; (f) the employment of pages or temporary session staff by the legislature; or (g) county commissioners of a county with a population of less than 10,000 if all the commissioners, with the exception of any commissioner who is related to the person being appointed and who must abstain from voting for the appointment, approve the appointment of a person related to a commissioner. Mont. Code Ann. § 2-2-302.

It shall further be unlawful for any person or any member of any board, bureau, or commission or employee of any department of this state or any political subdivision thereof to enter into any agreement or any promise with other persons or any members of any boards, bureaus, or commissions or employees of any department of this state or any of its political subdivisions thereof to appoint to any position of trust or emolument any person or persons related to them or connected with them by consanguinity within the fourth degree or by affinity within the second degree. Mont. Code Ann. § 2-2-303.

Violation of the nepotism laws are punishable as misdemeanors, with a fine of between $50 and $1,000, imprisonment for no more than 6 months, or both. Mont. Code Ann. § 2-2-304.

Nebraska Nepotism means the act of hiring, promoting, or advancing a family member in state government or recommending the hiring, promotion, or advancement of a family member in state government, including initial appointment and transfer to other positions in state government. Forbids nepotism in the executive branch. Dictates that internal policies prohibiting nepotism be implemented in the legislative and judicial branches. Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 49-1499.07.

Employment or recommendation of a family member permitted by political subdivisions, with disclosure and approval. Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 49-1499.04.

Nevada It is unlawful for any state official to employ any relative within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity. Some exceptions apply. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 281.210.

A person employed contrary to the provisions of this section must not be compensated for the employment. Any person violating any provisions of this section is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 281.210. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by a jail term of not more than 364 days or a fine not to exceed $2,000, or both. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 193.140.

New Hampshire Nepotism restrictions that apply to the executive branch are located at N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 21-G:26-a.
New Jersey A relative of an appointed member of a governing or advisory body of an independent authority, board, commission, agency or instrumentality of the State shall not be employed in an office or position in that independent authority, board, commission, agency or instrumentality. “Relative” means an individual’s spouse or the individual’s or spouse’s parent, child, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother or half sister, whether the relative is related to the individual or the individual’s spouse by blood, marriage or adoption. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 52:13D-21.2.
New Mexico It shall hereafter be unlawful for any person elected or appointed to any public office or position under the laws of this state or by virtue of any ordinance of any municipality thereof, to employ as clerk, deputy or assistant, in such office or position, whose compensation is to be paid out of public funds, any persons related by consanguinity or affinity within the third degree to the person giving such employment, unless such employment shall first be approved by the officer, board, council or commission, whose duty it is to approve the bond of the person giving such employment; provided, that this act shall not apply where the compensation of such clerk, deputy or assistant shall be at the rate of $600 or less a year, nor shall it apply to persons employed as teachers in the public schools. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 10-1-10.

No person so unlawfully employed shall be paid or receive any compensation from public funds, and such employment shall be null and void, and the person or persons giving such employment, together with his or their bondsmen, shall be liable for any and all moneys so unlawfully paid out. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 10-1-11.

New York No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
North Carolina Prohibition against causing the employment, appointment, promotion, etc. of an extended family member to a state office, or a position managed by the legislator. N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 163A-220. Exceptions in some specific circumstances. N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 120-32.
North Dakota A state official or employee, in exercise of official duties, may not serve in supervisory capacity over or contract with, that official’s parent, spouse, son, daughter, stepchild, sibling. N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 44-04-09. The penalty for violation of the anti-nepotism law results in deductions from the salary of the hiring or contracting state official or employee in the amount of any moneys paid out due to the violation. N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 44-04-10.
Ohio No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.

Department of Administrative Services Directive No. HR-D-02 established a statewide nepotism policy that applies to legislators. Legislators shall not employ or supervise any person closely related.

Oklahoma Unlawful for any executive, legislative, ministerial or judicial officer to appoint or vote for the appointment of any person related within the third degree to any position within the state that is paid out of public funds. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 481.

Penalty is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of at least $100 but no more than $1,000 and forfeiture of office. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 485.

Oregon Public officials may not discharge, fire, demote, appoint, employ or promote, interview, or discuss or debate regarding the appointment a relative or household member to a position with the public body the official serves or over which the public official exercises jurisdiction or control. Excludes purely ministerial acts. Exception for members of the legislative assembly within a legislative staff position in the assembly, as well as for unpaid positions. Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 244.177.
Pennsylvania No statutory restrictions, although Governor’s Management Directive 13.33 states that legislators shall not exercise direct and immediate supervisory authority over a family member.
Puerto Rico No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Rhode Island No statutory restrictions, although the Rhode Island Ethics Commission Regulation 36-14-5004 prohibits legislators from participating in any matter as part of his or her public duties if he or she has reason to believe or expect that any person within his or her family, or any household member, is a party to or a participant in such matter, or will derive a direct monetary gain or suffer a direct monetary loss, or obtain an employment advantage, as the case may be.
South Carolina No public official may participate in an action relating to the discipline or cause the employment, appointment, etc. of a family member to a state or local office or position in which the public official supervises or manages. S.C. Code Ann. § 8-13-750.

“Family member” means an individual who is: the spouse, parent, brother, sister, child, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild; a member of the individual’s immediate family. S.C. Code Ann. § 8-13-100.

South Dakota No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Tennessee Within the general assembly, no employees who are relatives shall be placed within the same direct line of supervision whereby one (1) relative is responsible for supervising the job performance or work activities of another relative; provided, that, to the extent possible, this part shall not be construed to prohibit two (2) or more relatives from working within the general assembly. Tenn. Code Ann. § 3-1-203. “Relative” means a parent, foster parent, parent-in-law, child, spouse, brother, foster brother, sister, foster sister, grandparent, grandchild, son-in-law, brother-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, or other family member who resides in the same household. Tenn. Code Ann. § 3-1-202.
Texas A public official may not appoint, confirm the appointment of, or vote for the appointment or confirmation of the appointment of an individual to a position that is to be directly or indirectly compensated from public funds or fees of office if:
(1) the individual is related to the public official; or (2) the public official holds the appointment or confirmation authority and the individual is related to another member. Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 573.041. Applies to relationships within the third degree by consanguinity or within the second degree by affinity. Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 573.002. Penalties may include removal from office and a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no less than $100 or more than $1,000. Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 573.081 & 573.084.

Exceptions: (from Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 573.061.)

§  (1) an appointment to the office of a notary public or to the confirmation of that appointment;

§  (2) an appointment of a page, secretary, attendant, or other employee by the legislature for attendance on any member of the legislature who, because of physical infirmities, is required to have a personal attendant;

§  (3) a confirmation of the appointment of an appointee appointed to a first term on a date when no individual related to the appointee within a degree described by Section 573.002 was a member of or a candidate for the legislature, or confirmation on reappointment of the appointee to any subsequent consecutive term;

§  (4) an appointment or employment of a bus driver by a school district if:

§  (A) the district is located wholly in a county with a population of less than 35,000; or

§  (B) the district is located in more than one county and the county in which the largest part of the district is located has a population of less than 35,000;

§  (5) an appointment or employment of a personal attendant by an officer of the state or a political subdivision of the state for attendance on the officer who, because of physical infirmities, is required to have a personal attendant;

§  (6) an appointment or employment of a substitute teacher by a school district;

§  (7) an appointment or employment of a person by a municipality that has a population of less than 200; or

§  (8) an appointment of an election clerk who is not related in the first degree by consanguinity or affinity to an elected official of the authority that appoints the election judges for that election.

Utah No public officer may employ, appoint, or vote for or recommend the appointment of a relative or household member in or to any position or employment paid from public funds and directly supervised by a relative or household member. “Relative” means a father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, sister, brother, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandson, granddaughter, first cousin, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law. Utah Code Ann. § 52-3-1. “Household member” means a person who resides in the same residence as the public officer.

Exceptions: (from Utah Code Ann. § 52-3-1)

§  (i) the appointee is eligible or qualified to be employed by a department or agency of the state or a political subdivision of the state as a result of compliance with civil service laws or regulations, or merit system laws or regulations;

§  (ii) the appointee will be compensated from funds designated for vocational training;

§  (iii) the appointee will be employed for a period of 12 weeks or less;

§  (iv) the appointee is a volunteer as defined by the employing entity; or

§  (v) the chief administrative officer determines that the appointee is the only or best person available, qualified, or eligible for the position.

No public officer may directly supervise an appointee who is a relative or household member when the salary, wages, pay, or compensation of the relative will be paid from public funds, except as follows: (from Utah Code Ann. § 52-3-1)

§  (i) the appointee was appointed or employed before the public officer assumed his position, if the appointee’s appointment did not violate the provisions of this chapter in effect at the time of his appointment;

§  (ii) the appointee is eligible or qualified to be employed by a department or agency of the state or a political subdivision of the state as a result of his compliance with civil service laws or regulations, or merit system laws or regulations;

§  (iii) the appointee will be compensated from funds designated for vocational training;

§  (iv) the appointee will be employed for a period of 12 weeks or less;

§  (v) the appointee is a volunteer as defined by the employing entity;

§  (vi) the appointee is the only person available, qualified, or eligible for the position; or

§  (vii) the chief administrative officer determines that the public officer is the only person available or best qualified to perform supervisory functions for the appointee.

When a public officer supervises a relative/household employee: (i) the public officer shall make a complete written disclosure of the relationship to the chief administrative officer of the agency or institution; and (ii) the public officer who exercises authority over a relative may not evaluate the relative’s job performance or recommend salary increases for the relative. Utah Code Ann. § 52-3-1.

No appointee may accept or retain employment if he is paid from public funds, and he is under the direct supervision of a relative or household member, except as follows: (from Utah Code Ann. § 52-3-1)

§  (a) the relative/household member was appointed or employed before the public officer assumed his position, if the appointment did not violate the provisions of this chapter in effect at the time of his appointment;

§  (b) the appointee was or is eligible or qualified to be employed by a department or agency of the state or a political subdivision of the state as a result of his compliance with civil service laws or regulations, or merit system laws or regulations;

§  (c) the appointee is the only person available, qualified, or eligible for the position;

§  (d) the appointee is compensated from funds designated for vocational training;

§  (e) the appointee is employed for a period of 12 weeks or less;

§  (f) the appointee is a volunteer as defined by the employing entity; or

§  (g) the chief administrative officer has determined that the appointee’s relative is the only person available or qualified to supervise the appointee.

Each day any such person is retained in office by any of said officials shall be regarded as a separate offense. Utah Code Ann. § 52-3-2. Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor. Utah Code Ann. § 52-3-3. Penalties may include removal or disqualification from office, fines, and a term of imprisonment. Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-201.

Vermont No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Virginia No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Virgin Islands No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Washington No state officer or state employee may have an interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in a business or transaction or professional activity, or incur an obligation of any nature, that is in conflict with the proper discharge of the state officer’s or state employee’s official duties. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 42.52.020. Some state courts have interpreted this statute to prohibit nepotism. See State v. Miller, 201 P.2d 136 (1948).
West Virginia No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Wisconsin No explicit prohibition against nepotism in the legislative branch was located in the state’s statutes, although other rules or conflict of interest provisions may apply.
Wyoming No public official, public member or public employee shall advocate or cause the employment, appointment, promotion, transfer or advancement of a family member to an office or position of the state, a county, municipality or a school district. A public official, public member or public employee shall not supervise or manage a family member who is in an office or position of the state, a county, municipality or school district. A public official, public member or public employee, acting in his official capacity, shall not participate in his official responsibility or capacity regarding a matter relating to the employment or discipline of a family member. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 9-13-104.

Penalty is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 and removal from office. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 9-13-109.

“Family member” means an individual: (A) Who is the spouse, parent, sibling, child, grandparent or grandchild; or (B) Is a member of the individual’s household. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 9-13-102.

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