OSB Policy on Consensual romantic or Sexual Relationships between Administrators and Support Staff and Faculty/Staff Colleagues
1. Policy Rationale
The college of Saint Benedict and Order of Saint Benedict are committed to maintaining a campus environment characterized by fair, professional and ethical behavior. To this end, administrators and support staff members (hereinafter referred to as "staff") are expected to avoid apparent or actual conflicts of interest, favoritism, bias or exploitation. Thus, it is in the interest of the college and Order to provide clear direction staff about the risks associated with making professional judgments about their faculty/staff colleagues (hereinafter referred to as "colleagues" with shom the staff member has or has had a consensual romantic or sexual relationship.
As the Joint Human Rights Policy of the College and Order states, consensual sexual or romantic relationships may become the basis for a claim of sexual harassment. If the colleague later feels that he or she is not free to discontinue the relationship because of the staff member's power to make or influence decisions which reward or punish the colleague, a charge of sexual harassment may result. In such circumstances, it can be very difficult to prove consent and avoid the negative consequence of a finding of sexual harassment.
Such relationships can affect other members of the campus community adversely. A consensual romantic or sexual relationship may create a perception that the processes of evaluation, reward and discipline of the college and Order are unfairly biased and affected by favoritism. The relationship may make the workplace uncomfortable for others.
II. Policy, Procedures and Consequences
for these reasons, the College and Order requires that staff, currently or previously involved in a consensual sexual or romantic relationship with a colleague, excuse him or herself from any decision involving the employment status or work related benefits of the colleague.
If required to provide an evaluation of the colleague, the staff member should submit a letter noting the conflict of interest and the resultant inability to provide an evaluation. A staff member who is a member of a committee which makes recommendations regarding the employment status or work related benefits of colleagues should notify their supervisor or department manager of the need to be excused from the decision regarding the colleague. The Supervisor or Department Manager should consult with the Human Resources Director to determine if any other arrangements are necessary to eliminate the conflict of interest. If the Supervisor or Department Manager has the conflict of interest, he r she must notify their Vice President and work with him or her to eliminate the conflict. If other situations arise which involve the staff member in making employment related decisions about their colleague, with whom he or she is involved in a relationship covered by this policy, the conflict should be reported to the Human Resources Director who will work with the parties to eliminate the conflict. Any such arrangements made in response to the existence of a consensual romantic or sexual relationship will not be undertaken for the purpose of adversely affecting the appointment status, pay, benefits or professional opportunities of the staff or colleague.
In the event a consensual sexual or amorous relationship exists, the failure of a staff member to excuse him or herself from the evaluation of or decision making process involving the employment status or work related benefits of the colleague is a violation of this College and Order policy, and the staff member will be subject to disciplinary action as outlined in Employee handbook.
Staff who may become involved in a consensual amorous or sexual relationship with a student should consult the POLICY ON CONSENSUAL ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN an Administrator and support Staff Member & STUDENTS located in Appendix J of the Employee Handbook.
For purposes of this policy:
Romantic relationships include relationships in which amorous or romantic feeligns exist without physical intimacy and which, when acted upon by the staff member exceed the reasonable boundaries of what a person of ordinary sensibilities would believe to be an educational, professional or supervisory relationship.
Sexual relationships include relationships involving intimate physical contact of a sexual nature.
Staff includes any and all employees other than faculty of the College of Saint Benedict and the Order of Saint Benedict, Inc.
Amorous has the meaning ascribed to it by the dictionary as being "of or pertaining to (sexual) love."
Romantic has the meaning ascribed to it by the dictionary as being "marked chiefly by sexual passion or its gratification."