The Top 7 Things Public Servants Need to Know about Relationships Between Superiors and Subordinates


1. Public servants may not enter into a business or financial relationship with anyone who is their City superior or subordinate.

2. Business or financial relationships include cohabitation, shared ownership of property worth more than $100, leases of property, participation in lottery pools or savings clubs, outstanding loans of $25 or more, and any sale of goods or property of $25. Charitable donations or fundraising, such as selling Girl Scout cookies or donations to a charity marathon, are not business or financial relationships.

3. A superior is someone who has the power to affect the terms and conditions of a person’s employment. This includes the power to evaluate job performance, assign work, or approve leave requests.

4. Superiors may not solicit charitable donations or sales from subordinates but may contribute or purchase fundraising items (such as Girl Scout cookies) related to a subordinate’s charitable activities.

5. Coworkers of equal rank may solicit donations or sales from each other and may contribute or purchase any amount related to a subordinate’s charitable activities.

6. Superiors and subordinates may jointly participate in and contribute to intra-office social events such as baby showers, holiday parties, and retirement parties. For such events, all contributions should be voluntary and should not be solicited by the superior.

7. Superiors may only accept gifts from subordinates on significant life events, such as a wedding or the birth or adoption of a child. Superiors may not accept gifts from subordinates other than those offered on significant life events and thus may not accept gifts on annual events such as birthdays and holidays. For more information about gifts, see the Gifts FAQ.


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