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Ethics Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

The following are frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding Rutgers Ethics Program.

 

General

Employment, Supervision, and Personal Relationships

 

Are there circumstances when Rutgers can hire the relative of a current employee?

Yes. University Policy 60.1.1, Employment of Relatives, addresses this topic. The policy generally provides: "It is the policy of Rutgers University to seek the most qualified employees for its faculty and staff positions." "Members of the same family or household may be selected for faculty and staff positions when it has been determined that they are qualified for the position and their selection does not conflict with the provisions of this Regulation."

 

Can relatives be hired for a position that would result in a supervisory/subordinate relationship?

No. The University Employment of Relatives policy provides: "Members of the same family or household may not be selected for faculty or staff positions if selection would create a supervisor/subordinate relationship between family and household members; would have the potential for creating an adverse impact on work performance; or would create either an actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest."

 

Can relatives participate in the evaluation and hiring process when a relative is a candidate?

No. The University Employment of Relatives policy provides: "[N]o family or household member shall have hiring authority over another family or household member nor shall vote, make recommendations or in any other way participate in the decision of any matter that may directly affect the appointment, tenure, promotion, demotion, salary or other status or interest of a family or household member. Employees are expected to voluntarily absent themselves from participation in personnel decisions in which a family or household member is involved."

 

Who is considered to be a relative and are romantic relationships included?

The University Employment of Relatives policy provides: "For the purposes of this Regulation, family or household member includes the following: spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild, or other members of a household. This regulation also applies to romantic relationships."

 

What happens when there is a preexisting supervisor/subordinate relationship and the individuals become romantically involved or marry?

The University Employment of Relatives policy provides: "Employees who become family or household members or establish a romantic relationship may continue employment as long as it does not involve any of the above conditions. If any of the above conditions should occur, attempts will be made to find a suitable position within the university to which one of the employees will transfer, or, if possible, assign job duties so as to minimize problems of supervision, safety, security, or morale. If accommodations of this nature are not feasible, the employees will be permitted to determine which of them will resign. If the employees cannot make a decision, the university will decide in its sole discretion which employee will remain employed."

 

Are there specific rules regarding summer employment?

Yes. The University Employment of Relatives policy provides: "Temporary summer workers who are family or household members of regularly appointed faculty or staff employees may not be employed in the same department as the regularly appointed faculty or staff employees."

Representation of Other Parties

 

May a university employee represent a party other than Rutgers in a matter which involves Rutgers?

No. No Rutgers employee may represent or negotiate on behalf of any party other than Rutgers with respect to any matter involving Rutgers. No partnership or other entity in which a Rutgers employee holds a greater than 10% interest may represent or negotiate on behalf of any party other than Rutgers with respect to any matter involving Rutgers.

No professional service corporation in which any Rutgers employee holds any interest may represent or negotiate on behalf of any party other than Rutgers with respect to any matter involving Rutgers. See N.J.S.A. 52:13D-16. "Certain representations, prohibited; exceptions" and N.J.S.A 52: 13D-13 (g) which defines "interest" applicable to N.J.S.A. 52: 13D-16. Note: Because Rutgers is an instrumentality of the state, but not within the executive branch of government, Rutgers employees are not generally barred from representing non-Rutgers parties before other state agencies. See in Re: Executive Commission on Ethical Standards Re: Appearance of Rutgers Attorneys Before the Council on Affordable Housing on Behalf of the Civil League, Plaintiffs, 116 N.J. 216 (1989).

Post-Employment Restrictions

 

After I leave Rutgers, am I subject to certain restrictions?

There are two basic restrictions that you must comply with after you are no longer employed by Rutgers: a) You may not disclose any Rutgers confidential information when you are no longer employed by Rutgers. b) You may not "switch sides" after your employment ends. "Switching sides" is defined in the New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law N.J.S.A. 52:13D-17. This section of the Conflicts of Interest Law provides that no Rutgers employee, subsequent to the termination of his/her Rutgers employment, shall represent, appear for, negotiate on behalf of, or provide information not generally available to members of the public or services to, or agree to represent, appear for, negotiate on behalf of, or provide information not generally available to members of the public or services to, whether by himself/herself or through any partnership, firm, or corporation in which he/she has an interest or through any partner, officer or employee thereof, any person or party other than Rutgers in connection with any cause, proceeding, application, or other matter with respect to which the Rutgers employee shall have made any investigation, rendered any ruling, given any opinion, or been otherwise substantially and directly involved at any time during the course of his office or employment. Any person who willfully violates the provisions of this section [N.J.S.A. 52:13D-17] is a disorderly person, and shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed six months, or both. In addition, for violations occurring after the effective date of P.L.2005, c.382, any former State officer or employee or former special State officer or employee of a State agency in the Executive Branch found by the State Ethics Commission to have violated any of the provisions of this section shall be assessed a civil penalty of not less than $500 nor more than $10,000, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

Use of University Assets to Promote Outside Activities/Employment

 

What are the rules that control use of University Assets to Promote Outside Employment or Self Employment?

The New Jersey Conflicts of Interest (NJCOI) law prohibits faculty and staff from using their Rutgers positions or university assets, including websites, to promote personal interests or the interests of an outside third party. (Please note that these prohibitions do not apply to Rutgers technology start-up companies that involve our staff and faculty.) The Rutgers policy on "Endorsements, Sponsorships, and Acceptance of Advertising in and on University Assets and Communications Materials" includes important guidance on what information can be included on school, department, program, and individual websites. Before you put a third party link on a Rutgers website, you should become familiar with the rules contained in the Rutgers policy. Among other things, this policy prohibits endorsements by university units or employees, except in exceptional cases and then only with advance approval by the Rutgers Board of Governors. To be clear, the inclusion of links on Rutgers web pages to outside employment or self-employment websites is an inappropriate use of university assets and gives the appearance that Rutgers is endorsing the services or goods provided by employees in their outside employment or self-employment. These links are therefore considered to be violations of both NJCOI and university policy. As a Rutgers employee, you are responsible for complying with state law and university policies. You should regularly review your websites and remove all links to your outside or self-employment or to information about the goods and services you provide outside of Rutgers. We also recommend that schools and units appoint an individual to ensure that all websites under their purview are in compliance with state law and all Rutgers policies, standards, and guidelines, both now and on a regular, on-going basis. Please contact ethics@rutgers.edu directly if you have questions about specific situations or would like expanded guidance.

Externally Funded Scholarly Activities/ Scholarly Capacity

What is “Scholarly Capacity”?

Scholarly Capacity is a State Ethics Commission designation for work being performed by individuals employed in State institutions of higher education with an academic designation. Employees with an academic designation may receive certain limited benefits from external sources related to the presentation of their scholarly works. Should they receive a benefit from an external source, disclosure must be made on the Ethics Armor Scholarly Capacity Annual Disclosure form (SCAD).

 

 When do I file my SCAD?

The SCAD form is available in Ethics Armor during the course of the Academic Calendar (July 1-June 30). The form can be updated throughout the year and is finalized by the University Ethics and Compliance office in September for filing with the New Jersey State Ethics Commission.

 

 If Rutgers pays does it go on my SCAD?

No. The SCAD form is only to be used for payment form external sources for presentation of your scholarly works.

 

I am a faculty member. Can I be paid by Rutgers and the activity be classified as either an external activity in my scholarly capacity or as outside employment?

No. Regardless of whether Rutgers received a grant or a company is sponsoring research, if you are being paid by Rutgers it can only be Rutgers work.

 

As a faculty member I am doing work that involves my expertise. Does that determine the capacity I am acting in?

No. You use your expertise in your Rutgers work, as well as any activities paid for by third parties for acting in a “scholarly capacity,” and quite often or probably in any outside employment activities, such as consulting. Therefore your use of your academic expertise is not a single determinative factor.

 

I am being paid by an outside party in situations that might require that I report an activity on a “scholarly capacity” form or on an “outside employment ” form. How can I tell on which form the activity should be reported?

Since you engaged in the activity, you are in the best position to judge which form is more appropriate. The following characteristics are generally true of a scholarly activity: - The faculty member is free to publish and make presentations in an open academic setting. - You are likely to want to include the activity in a promotion packet or other evaluation. The following characteristics are generally true of outside employment activity: - Your communications are typically private. - It is unlikely that you will want to include the activity in a promotion packet or other evaluation.

 

I want a clear line. Can I just assume that if my work is taking place at an academic institution that it is scholarly?

No, there is no single criterion. For example, if you are an expert on youth and alcohol you might be invited to a panel discussion at another institution at which students and faculty will be gathered to consider the options the institution has to protect or dissuade students from excess. The institution pays you to participate. It is a scholarly activity. However, if you meet privately with the vice president of student affairs at another institution and outline the options and how things might be handled, then that is outside employment.

 

What if it is not clear on which form an activity is reported?

If it is so close a call that you are confused regarding on which form it “should” go, then in all probability a reasonable case could be made for either form. It is usually better that faculty members judge for themselves what they regard as “scholarly” although they are free to seek advice. It is alright that in a close case one faculty member might elect to use a scholarly capacity form whereas another faculty member might choose the outside employment form. Moreover, there is rarely going to be any practical consequence to the faculty member on which form the activity goes.

 

Royalties and Textbooks

 

What is the rule on royalties and textbooks?

A faculty member who assigns a book the faculty member has authored may not keep royalties earned from students in that class who purchase new copies of the book. Under copyright law, royalties are calculated by the publisher only for the “first sale” at the retail level of a book. No royalties are earned or payable thereafter for any subsequent reselling of a used book from any party to another.

 

Does this rule apply to any other sales of my book, such as when another faculty member assigns the book?

Only royalties earned from students in a class taught by the author may not be retained by the author; a faculty author should not participate in the selection of his/her book for classes taught by other faculty members; however, the royalties earned from sales of a book to students in other classes at Rutgers and anywhere else in the world are to be kept by the author.

 

To whom are royalties from my students who bought new books to be paid?

You can write a check to either your department or to a charity of your choice. If you pay appropriate royalties to a charity of your choice then you should provide documentation of that payment to your departmental administrator.

 

Do I need to report this payment to the State Ethics Commission or some central office at Rutgers?

No.

 

How am I to know how to calculate royalties that need to be paid over to my department or charity of my choice?

You may use any reasonable method. Royalties are paid only on new books; no royalties are owed for used books. You can ask for a show of hands from students as to who bought new books. You may wish to turn your back and let a student count to avoid the possibility of getting an “over count.” If the class is small enough and it appears to you that the new books are noticeably shiny and the used books are not, then you can make a reasonable estimate based upon a visual estimate. Finally, the bookstore may keep records for your class.

 

It is a lot of effort to write a book. It is not lucrative and students take my class in part because I wrote the book. Why is it regarded as an “ethics” issue for me to keep the royalties from my book?

Rutgers made these arguments to the State Ethics Commission and Rutgers supported at least a $250 exemption. However, the ruling by the State Ethics Commission is a reflection of the strength of its view that there should be no personal financial benefit received from how one chooses to go about one’s job. Moreover, it is not uncommon at state universities in other states for faculty not to retain royalties from books assigned to their students.

 

May the university purchase faculty-authored books using university funds?

  1. When a Rutgers employee owns the rights to a publication and the publisher offers the employee a discounted purchase price for initial copies of the book, the employee may request that the university fund the purchase of some or all of the discounted copies.
  2. The university is under no obligation to fund purchases of employees' publications.
  3. It is up to the employee's unit/ department to decide whether to use university funds to purchase copies of the employee's published work. The unit/department should consider the benefit to the university, as well as how the work will be distributed, when making this determination.

 

May faculty list links to non-commercial and commercial websites (such as Amazon.com) that relate to employee-authored books?

  1. The employee may list the book and a link to a non-commercial website with information about the book in his/her CV and on the directory posted on Rutgers websites.
  2. The employee may include the book and provide a link to the non-commercial website about the book in the course syllabus as part of a list of suggested supporting materials.
  3. Links to commercial websites (such as Amazon.com) are not permitted.
  4. The publisher of the book may include a link to the employee's CV and/or the course syllabus on the Rutgers website.

 

May university advertising include information about employee-authored books?

  1. When an employee owns the rights to a publication, the marketing of the publication is the responsibility of the publisher and/or the employee. The employee may request that the university fund a specific promotion of the publication. The university, on its own initiative, may decide to promote the publication because it determines that to do so advances the mission and/or reputation of the university.
  2. The university is under no obligation to promote or to fund the promotion of an employee's publication.
  3. A university unit/department may fund an event related to the publication of an employee's work or an advertisement that contains information about the work when:
    1. The primary purpose of the event/advertisement is the advancement of the university's mission and/or reputation;
    2. The event/advertisement is not solely for the employee's personal gain; and
    3. Advance written approval is obtained from the appropriate Vice President, Dean or Director.

 

What are the rules that control use of University Assets to Promote Outside Employment or Self Employment?

The New Jersey Conflicts of Interest (NJCOI) law prohibits faculty and staff from using their Rutgers positions or university assets, including websites, to promote personal interests or the interests of an outside third party. (Please note that these prohibitions do not apply to Rutgers technology start-up companies that involve our staff and faculty.) The Rutgers policy on "Endorsements, Sponsorships, and Acceptance of Advertising in and on University Assets and Communications Materials" includes important guidance on what information can be included on school, department, program, and individual websites. Before you put a third party link on a Rutgers website, you should become familiar with the rules contained in the Rutgers policy. Among other things, this policy prohibits endorsements by university units or employees, except in exceptional cases and then only with advance approval by the Rutgers Board of Governors. To be clear, the inclusion of links on Rutgers web pages to outside employment or self-employment websites is an inappropriate use of university assets and gives the appearance that Rutgers is endorsing the services or goods provided by employees in their outside employment or self-employment. These links are therefore considered to be violations of both NJCOI and university policy. As a Rutgers employee, you are responsible for complying with state law and university policies. You should regularly review your websites and remove all links to your outside or self-employment or to information about the goods and services you provide outside of Rutgers. We also recommend that schools and units appoint an individual to ensure that all websites under their purview are in compliance with state law and all Rutgers policies, standards, and guidelines, both now and on a regular, on-going basis. Please contact ethics@rutgers.edu directly if you have questions about specific situations or would like expanded guidance.

Attendance at Events

 

Definition of an Event

A meeting, conference, seminar, speaking engagement, symposium, training course, ground-breaking, ribbon-cutting, meal , open house, cocktail party, fundraiser, holiday party, social function, or similar event that takes place away from the RBHS Employee's work location, is sponsored or co-sponsored by a supplier or a non-State government source and the invitation for which is extended to the RBHS Employee because of his or her official position for the University.

 

Use the following guidelines to access the appropriate Travel Forms

Students Use the Accounts Payable and Travel Forms Links in the http://myportal.rutgers.edu Portal. They can be found either in your "Toolbox" on the left, or in your "myApps" section.

Employees NOT traveling to an "event" as defined by the State Ethics Code* Use the Accounts Payable and Travel Forms Links in the http://myportal.rutgers.edu Portal. They can be found either in your "Toolbox" on the left, or in your "myApps" section.

Employees traveling to an "event" as defined by the State Ethics Code* Use the "Home" link on the left-hand menu and login. Once logged-in you will the option to generate a "New Attendance at Events" Form from the menu on the left.

Gifts

Gifts from Vendors

 

What is the rule on personal gifts from vendors?

The New Jersey State Ethics Commission has interpreted the State Conflicts of Interest Law that any personal gift from a current or prospective vendor to public employees is inappropriate. Minor exceptions are discussed below.

 

What about snacks and meals at a meeting at a vendor location for university business?

Snacks, coffee, juice, and similar items are allowed. Accepting meals from a vendor is not permissible under the rules established by the Ethics Commission. However, it is all right if the university pays for the meals or if the employee reimburses the vendor for the meal. If there is an important approved occasion which university employees are attending as part of their job, then the university will make arrangements to reimburse the vendor for the cost of the meals.

 

Can university employees receive meals from vendors when attending free vendor training on complex systems, which is usually an all-day event with meals served?

The State Ethics Commission will not allow public employees to accept meals from vendors under any circumstances. If attendance at the training event is deemed valuable to the skills of university employees, then the university will pay the vendor for the cost of the meals.

 

I attend conferences for which Rutgers has paid an attendance fee. I know that some of the meals are subsidized by vendors. Is it all right to accept those meals at the conference?

Yes. The meals are included in the conference fee.

 

At a conference, am I able to accept "give aways" from vendors?

Certainly you can accept anything that might be evaluated for possible university use as vendors often give samples of their products away for these purposes. You may accept items of truly nominal value, such as give-away pens, hats, and cups. On the other hand, you will not want to use vendor-branded items at work as it could convey a bias and closer association with the vendor than is the case. Here you are expected to use your best judgment.

 

Can I attend special vendor events at a conference at which food and liquor are generally served without charge? These are largely networking events for the sales staff of the vendor?

No. This is essentially socializing with vendors with the vendor paying for the food and drink. Remember, vendor staff are sales people. Vendors are interested in selling their products, so the purpose of any vendor event is to create a favorable impression in order to have an employee buy their product. Your attendance at such an event creates an appearance of impropriety. The State Ethics Commission regularly underscores this as a significant potential minefield for creating problems of bias in public-sector procurement. Even when a public employee is not actually biased when participating in a subsequent decision respecting a vendor, there is still the problem of these events creating an appearance of impropriety including receiving a personal benefit on account of one's public employment.

 

Can I accept holiday gifts from vendors?

No. Vendors will be advised by email that these gifts are inappropriate and that vendors should make their best efforts to inform their staff that gifts to Rutgers employees are inappropriate. This notice will become part of all purchase orders and will be on the procurement website which should curtail offers of holiday (or other) gifts.

 

What should I do if I receive a gift from a vendor?

If you receive a gift from a vendor, immediately contact the ethics office at ethics@uec.rutgers.edu or (732) 743-3344. The gift will either be returned by the ethics office or donated to a charitable organization identified by the University. The ethics office will instruct on the proper method for disposing of the gift and send a letter to the vendor.

 

Can vendors give gifts to the university?

Yes. Vendors often support the university with gifts of equipment or make financial gifts, but individual employees should not be the beneficiaries of these gifts. See the University Donor Gift Policy 40.2.13 (PDF).

Outside Activity Questionnaire

Does this apply to me if I’m a student/part-time employee/adjunct/etc.?

The OAQ is required for anyone receiving compensation (in any capacity) from the University including but not limited to all full-time faculty and staff, part-time faculty and staff, those receiving a stipend, and temporary employees.

Why does the University want this information?

In addition to being a requirement under the New Jersey Conflict of Interest Law, Rutgers requires you to complete the OAQ to ensure the integrity and reputation of the University and to help our faculty and staff avoid potential conflicts of interest. The OAQ is also designed to allow a supervisor or department chair to identify overlap with duties and responsibilities or conflicts with employee time. Also know that Rutgers will never ask for your personal political or religious affiliations as part of the OAQ.

Is the OAQ a public record?

The OAQ is NOT A PUBLIC RECORD; it is part of your personnel record.

Where can I find the form?

Go to http://ethics.rutgers.edu and login with your NetID in the top right corner. The form will say, Annual Outside Activity Questionnaire for [YOUR NAME].

I’m logged in, but I can’t find the form I completed before. What do I do?

If you have submitted the OAQ in the past and need to update the form because of a change of circumstance, it will appear under your “Submissions” tab when you login. Otherwise it should appear in your Inbox when you login at http://ethics.rutgers.edu

What is secondary employment?

Secondary employment is any compensated activity that you perform in addition to your University employment. Examples: per diem; consulting; part-time; family business.

Past employment is not considered secondary employment; there is no need to list former employers.

Do I need to disclose Volunteer Activity or other unpaid activities?

If you are in a leadership position with a volunteer/non-profit organization, please disclose that affiliation. Examples: Executive Board Member; Appointed to a Board or Commission; Treasurer for a charitable organization, etc. even if the organization has no affiliation with the University.

Can I have my assistant fill out my OAQ for me?

No. The OAQ is personal to each individual and requires your individual NetID and login information.

I have several consulting jobs, do I have to list them all separately?

You may fill out the form including a general description of your outside activities and approximately how much time you spend on these activities on a weekly basis.

I’m a supervisor/department head/chair, and I don’t feel comfortable approving this form, what should I do?

We ask supervisors/department heads to review the forms for “operational concerns.” Because you work with these individuals on an everyday basis, we rely on you to let us know if someone’s outside activity may interfere with or create the perception that it may interfere with the employee’s job duties. For example, an outside job may conflict with an employee’s regular hours at the University. The Ethics Office will then complete a more thorough review for potential conflicts of interest. If you have concerns you may also log a private comment or email us at ethics@uec.rutgers.edu