Policy Guidance on Nepotism


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The University at Buffalo strives to ensure that our employment and academic decisions are fair, merit-based and made with integrity. The Nepotism Policy promotes these goals and a culture of excellence. Personnel or academic decisions that favor relatives or friends undermine excellence by devaluing individual merit.


There are situations where we may have personal relationships with other employees at UB. For example, we may seek to hire a prospective faculty member’s spouse as a partner accommodation as part of our recruitment efforts. UB is a major employer in Western New York, and it is natural that spouses, friends or relatives might learn about vacancies from people they know. As other examples, an employee might be promoted to a supervisory position over coworkers considered to be friends or a faculty member might start developing romantic feelings toward a post-doctoral employee whom they see every day. These situations often require consultation and alternative arrangements to ensure fair evaluation and an absence of actual or perceived favoritism.

The topic of nepotism itself raises questions that make it a challenge to administer in the workplace and in classrooms. What counts as a “relative” under the policy? Does a second cousin count? An ex-brother-in-law? How close does a “personal relationship” have to be in order to fall under the policy? Can a faculty member socialize with graduate students on a regular basis without violating the policy? No amount of policy guidance can speak to every situation, as many of the situations we face will be fact-specific.

If you have any question about a situation that could be problematic under the policy, contact the Office of Employee Relations, your area’s Human Resources liaison, the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, or Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for help.