Code of Ethics
University employees (faculty and staff) are required to comply with the Code of Conduct and Ethics (Code). The Office of the General Counsel is the University's Ethics Office. If you have any questions regarding any specific provision of the Code or any other questions in general regarding conduct matters not specifically stated in the Code, please contact Marc Snow, Senior Associate General Counsel, at (904) 620-2866 or via e-mail.
In the Code below we have provided hyperlinks to the state and federal laws and other rules and regulations, including applicable collective bargaining agreements that are the basis for the Code. Additionally, we will be updating our website to add additional resources and training information.
Many issues related to ethical conduct have legal consequences such as the state of Florida's Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees (sections 112.311 through 112.3261, Florida Statutes). These statutes cover a broad array of topics, but the most common issues relating to University personnel are discussed below.
A Power Point Overview of the University's Code
The University of North Florida's Code of Conduct and Ethics
Ethics Links Webpage
General Counsel Webpage
The University of North Florida's Board of Trustees and the University's administration value high ethical standards. Thus, it is expected that all of the University's businesses, operations and interactions with those within and outside the University community will be executed in a manner exhibiting the highest degree of ethical standards and conduct. To provide the University faculty, staff and representatives guidance and notice of their obligations, this Code of Conduct and Ethics describes general expectations for achieving and maintaining an organizational culture that affirms the University's responsibility to protect its resources, its employees, its students and its reputation.
The University, through its faculty, staff and representatives, including contractual agents (hereinafter collectively "personnel"), is entrusted by the public with financial resources and social responsibilities. All University personnel play a key role in assuring that high standards of ethical practice are utilized regarding the custody and use of these resources. To accomplish this, it is expected that University personnel observe and be faithful to the values embodied in this Code of Conduct and Ethics so that all in the University community will enjoy a professional and supportive work environment.
This Code, however, is not intended to stand alone. Rather, it complements and serves as a link with state and federal laws and other rules and regulations, including applicable collective bargaining agreements that govern the University's operations and its personnel's ethical conduct. Further, this Code is described in a general manner and is not intended to address every circumstance of expected ethical behavior. As such, any member of the University community who may be confronted with an ethical dilemma should first contact his or her immediate supervisor or others in their supervisory chain, including the University's Ethics Officer, to seek guidance in addressing issues that are not directly covered by this Code.
II. Compliance with the Law
All University personnel are required to observe and comply with all state and federal laws applicable to the University. Any questions regarding the application of law to situations, or the compliance requirements of the law, should be referred by University personnel to their immediate supervisor or any other individual in his or her supervisory chain. Should anyone in the supervisory chain require assistance in interpreting the legal requirements of compliance efforts, questions should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel.
III. Discrimination, Harassment and Mistreatment
The University supports an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment or mistreatment based on one's membership in a protected class. Thus, any University employee who believes he or she may have experienced any form of discrimination, harassment or mistreatment based on such class membership should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity to seek guidance and assistance in addressing his or her concerns.
IV. Use of the University Resources
The University's resources and facilities are for official and authorized use only and in furtherance of the University's mission and organizational culture. Thus, University personnel should not misuse the University's resources and/or facilities and should not permit others to inappropriately use these resources and/or facilities. The University understands the occasional use of certain resources (e.g. computer and telephone) for personal reasons; however, such personal use by University personnel should not result in expense to the University or interfere with the performance of required duties or the University's mission. Moreover, it is expected that University personnel will not use any of the University's resources and facilities for any illegal or unauthorized commercial activities, or in any manner which is inconsistent with the University's mission. University personnel also should not allow or assist others in illegal or unauthorized commercial use of these resources.
V. Outside Activity
All full-time University personnel who desire to engage in outside activities must complete applicable outside activity forms and obtain the required supervisory approvals prior to commencing the outside activities. The requirements regarding outside activities for selected University personnel are contained in applicable collective bargaining agreements and those subject to such agreements should refer to the applicable agreements for the specific procedures for reporting outside activities. Information about disclosure of outside activities and the required forms for such reporting purposes are available from the University's Office of Human Resources.
VI. Confidential Information
The University of North Florida is subject to Florida's "Government-in-the-Sunshine" law meaning that most University-related documents, in any form including e-mail, are subject to request and inspection by the public. However, certain personal and official information regarding students, faculty, staff and donors are confidential and cannot be disclosed to others pursuant to federal and/or state laws, including but not limited to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state law regarding limited access to faculty evaluative information. As such, the University expects confidential information about its students, faculty, staff and donors to be protected in accordance with the provisions of these and other pertinent laws. Any questions regarding what constitutes "confidential" information and laws applicable to specific situations should be referred by University personnel to their immediate supervisor or any other individual in his or her supervisory chain. Similarly, should anyone in the supervisory chain require assistance in regarding "confidential" information, questions should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel.
VII. Using Organizational Status to Influence Business Decisions
The University expects that its personnel who hold purchasing or other decision-making positions will not attempt to use their University status to influence business transactions which may result in their experiencing any personal, financial, or material gain on behalf of themselves or others.
VIII. Nepotism/Reporting Structure
University personnel should avoid situations where they may influence the decision to hire a family member at the University. A conflict of interest would exist, for example, if personnel serve on a selection committee or in a decision-making chain where a family member has applied for employment. In such a scenario, University personnel should disclose their familial status to the chair of the selection committee or the Director of Human Resources prior to the candidates' interview. Further, employees are not permitted to supervise family members as a conflict of interest would exist if a supervisor had to conduct a performance appraisal on a family member.
IX. Purchase of Property from Board of Trustees
No University personnel should enter into a personal agreement or a contract to purchase goods or services, except those available to the general public, from a member of the University's Board of Trustees or the Trustee's firm without first discussing the transaction with the University's Office of the General Counsel. Transactions of this type may have the appearance of impropriety and result in a conflict of interest that at the very least may reflect poorly on the individual, the Trustee and/or the University.
X. Gifts and Honoraria
In accordance with Section 112.3148, Florida Statutes, University personnel are prohibited from giving, soliciting, or accepting any gift which may give the appearance of influencing their objectivity with respect to the University's business arrangements. Generally, personnel, in conjunction with their supervisors' approval, may accept gifts with a value of no more than $100 as a token of appreciation or as a "thank you" for assistance with or support for a University-related program. However, acceptance of such gifts would be prohibited if it were to result in a conflict with an individual's separate professional standard of conduct or if accepting such gifts was not permitted by the bylaws or regulations of other entities applicable to the conduct of University personnel.
XI. Use of University Intellectual Property, Copyright, Patents and Trademark
The University observes all intellectual property, patent and copyright laws and expects all University personnel to comply with the laws regarding the use of such property. For example, the University's trademark, seal, and letterhead must only be used in relation to University-related activities and University business matters. Any other use of the University's intellectual property is strictly prohibited. Should University personnel have any questions regarding whether their intended use of the University's intellectual property may be in contradiction to "University-related activities and University business matters" the individual should consult their immediate supervisor or any other individual in his or her supervisory chain. Should anyone in the supervisory chain require assistance in interpreting whether the intended use of patents, copyrights or trademarks falls within accepted University activities or business matters, the supervisor should contact the University's Office of the Provost, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, or Division of University Development and Alumni Engagementto seek guidance regarding any question that they may have regarding the intended use of the intellectual property.
XII. Lobbying and Political Activity
While personal political advocacy on the part of University personnel is encouraged, only the University's registered lobbyists are authorized to lobby issues as a representative of the University. Other personnel seeking to lobby or express political views on behalf of the University must first receive the express written approval of the President, in coordination with the University's Office of Governmental Affairs, outlining the terms of the approved lobbying or political activity. Further, should University personnel become engaged in political advocacy or lobbying, they should make all reasonable efforts to make those with whom they come in contact aware their activities are personal endeavors and not expressed on behalf of the University.
University personnel are strictly prohibited from taking an active part in a political campaign while on duty or within periods of time during which University personnel are expected to be performing services for which he or she receives compensation from the University. Further, University personnel are prohibited from using the authority of their University position to secure support for, or oppose any candidate, party, or issue in a partisan election or affect the results of such election. Similarly, University personnel are prohibited from using a promise of reward or threat to encourage or coerce any other University personnel to support or contribute to any political issue, candidate, or party.
University personnel who desire to seek public office while employed by the University are required to first notify and obtain approval from the President. Approval shall be based upon a determination by the President, in coordination with the appropriate supervisor, department head, and division vice president that such activity would not cause a prohibited conflict of interest or interfere with the individual's University service. In situations where the individual holding or running for public office would present a conflict or interfere with the full discharge of his or her University duties, the President may require that the individual take a leave of absence or resign his or her employment from the University.
Notwithstanding the foregoing prohibitions, nothing in this provision shall be deemed to prohibit University personnel from expressing their own opinions on any candidate or issue or from participating in any political campaign during the individual's off-duty hours.
XIII. Use of Human Subjects in Research
The University encourages the use of research for the advancement of knowledge. However, all proposed research involving the use of human subjects for testing and obtaining data must be submitted by the primary investigator to the University's Institutional Review Board for review and approval prior to commencing the research.
XIV. Media and Public Inquiries
All media and public inquiries for information that University personnel receive in their capacity as University representatives should be coordinated with the University's Department of Media Relations so that all inquiries result in a timely and accurate response. The University also expects other forms of communication, such as speeches, press releases, and reports made by individuals in their capacity as University representatives, to be accurate and coordinated with the supervisor of the individual communicating the information or others in his or her supervisory chain. Should the information to be reported or released involve issues that will potentially be subject to media coverage, the supervisor should contact the Department of Media Relations prior to the information being communicated or released for that Department's input, review and assistance. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the University is aware that many personnel routinely interact with the media and/or public in their capacity as University representatives. In such public interactions, if University personnel are providing personal or professional opinions that have not been authorized in advance by the University, the personnel should take all reasonable measures to make the public and/or media aware that the opinions expressed are their personal or professional opinions and are not being made on behalf of the University.
XV. Professional Associations' Codes of Ethics
All University personnel who are members of professional associations external to the University are expected to abide by their association's code of ethics and other membership guidelines. If University personnel are found to have violated an external association's code of ethics or membership guidelines and such violation may negatively impact the University or the individual's employment at the University, such personnel must report the alleged violation to their supervisor, or other in his or her supervisory chain so that the impact of the alleged violation may be evaluated by the appropriate University representatives.
XVI. Alleged Violations of Law
University personnel are required to disclose to their supervisor or other in his or her supervisory chain, any alleged violations of law or incidents of arrest by a law enforcement official that could impact the individual's temporary or continued performance of their job duties. Such alleged violations of law often impact the University and its reputation and may place other University employees, students, or visitors at risk.
XVII. Procedures for Alleged Violations
All employees are responsible for complying with the University's Code of Conduct and Ethics and are required to report an alleged violation of this Code to his or her immediate supervisor, anyone in their supervisory chain, or the University's Ethics Officer. The Ethics Officer in the Office of the General Counsel is responsible for conducting a review of the incident(s) in question and forwarding the information to the appropriate University representatives for review.
All University personnel are required to become familiar with this Code and conduct themselves in an ethical manner in the performance of their University duties and responsibilities. Should any personnel require advice or clarification regarding their obligations pursuant to this Code, they should consult their supervisor or appropriate University representative in order to gain an understanding of the requirements of this Code so that the reputation of those covered by this Code, including the University, continues to be held in high regard by all that with whom we interact.
Compliance with Code of Ethics for Public Employees
University personnel (faculty and staff) are required to comply with the state of Florida's Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees (see sections 112.311 through 112.3261, Florida Statutes). These statutes cover a broad array of topics, but the most common issues relating to University personnel are discussed below:
(a) Gifts and Honoraria. University personnel designated as a "Reporting Individual" by the University (see section 112.3148(d), Florida Statutes) or a "Procurement Employee" (see section 112.3148(e), Florida Statutes) are prohibited from soliciting, or accepting, Honoraria related to their University duties (see section 112.3149, Florida Statutes). However, University Personnel designated as a Reporting employee or those acting as a Procurement Employee may accept the payment of expenses related to an honorarium event from such individuals or entities, provided that the expenses are disclosed. Each person designated as a Reporting employee or acting as a Procurement Employee is required a FORM 9, Quarterly Gift Disclosure, with the Commission on Ethics on the last day of any calendar quarter following the calendar quarter in which he or she received a gift worth more than $100, other than gifts from relatives, gifts prohibited from being accepted, gifts primarily associated with his or her business or employment, and gifts otherwise required to be disclosed. Information to be disclosed includes a description of the gift and its value, the name and address of the donor, the date of the gift, and a copy of any receipt for the gift provided by the donor (see section 112.3149, Florida Statutes).
Other University Personnel, in conjunction with their supervisors' approval, may accept gifts with a value of no more than $100 as a token of appreciation or as a "thank you" for assistance with or support for an activity related to their University employment. However, acceptance of such gifts would be prohibited if it were to result in a conflict with an individual's separate professional standard of conduct or if accepting such gifts was not permitted by the bylaws or regulations of other entities applicable to the conduct of University personnel.
(b) Gift Prohibitions: Any individual designated as a "Reporting Individual" by the University (see section 112.3148(d), Florida Statutes) or a "Procurement Employee" (see section 112.3148(e), Florida Statutes) is prohibited from soliciting any gift from a vendor doing business with the University where such gift is for the personal benefit of the reporting individual or procurement employee, another reporting individual or procurement employee, or any member of the immediate family of a reporting individual or procurement employee.
(c) Procurement Prohibitions: University Personnel acting in their official capacity as a purchasing agent shall not either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for the University from any business entity which the employee or the employee's spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or employee's spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest (see 112.313(3), Florida Statutes). A "material interest" is defined as owning five (5) percent of the business entity (see 112.31(15), Florida Statutes).
(d) Unauthorized Compensation: University Personnel, or their spouse or minor child, shall not at any time, accept any compensation, payment, or thing of value when the individual knows, or with the exercise of reasonable care, should know, that it was given to influence a vote or other action in the individual was expected to participate in his or her official capacity. (see 112.313(4), Florida Statutes).
(e) Misuse of Position: University Personnel shall not corruptly use or attempt to use their official position or any property or resource which may be within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself, herself, or others (see 112.313(6), Florida Statutes).
(f) Conflicting Employment or Contractual Relationship: University Personnel shall not have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity doing business with the University where they are an officer or employee. Also, University Personnel shall not have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his or her private interests and the performance of his or her University duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of their University duties (see 112.313(7), Florida Statutes).
(g) Disclosure Requirements to the Commission on Ethics: In addition to the requirement to file quarterly disclosures, where applicable, as discussed is section (a) above, Reporting Employees and Procurement Employees must file disclosures with the Commission as follows: University Personnel who are designated by the University to annually file a Form 1 with the Florida Commission on Ethics are a "Reporting Individual". Individuals required to file a Form 1 must file within thirty days from the date of appointment or the beginning of employment and annually, by July 1, thereafter. University Personnel who will be required to file a Form 1 will be notified by the Office of Human Resources upon commencement of employment and thereafter will be notified by the Office of Human Resources and the Commission on Ethics of the requirement to file a Form 1. Any University Personnel required to file a Form 1 must file a Form 1F, Limited Financial Disclosure within 60 days of leaving their University employment (see 112.3145, Florida Statutes).
Compliance with the legal requirements of Florida's Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees is essential to both the University and its employees. Failure to do so may result in fines, punitive actions including removal from employment. Any University employee who is unsure how these requirements apply to any particular situation should contact Marc Snow, Senior Associate General Counsel at 620-2866 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. University Personnel may find additional information on the Florida Commission on Ethics website at: http://www.ethics.state.fl.us/ . The Florida Commission on Ethics also publishes a Guide to the Sunshine Amendment and Code of Ethics for Public Officer and Employees which can be located at: http://www.ethics.state.fl.us/publications/guidebookletinternet.pdf