Employment of Relatives – Nepotism

The employment of near relatives in the same department is strongly discouraged as it leads to perceptions of favoritism, difficulties in managing objectively and lower employee morale. At the same time, Washington University is a large employer and often will find highly qualified candidates among the family members of its current employees. Therefore, it is important to create a balance between these sometimes competing issues. Employees cannot be in a position of supervising, directing, making or influencing final decisions regarding the terms and conditions of employment and/or compensation for their near relatives. This policy also applies to relationships that may develop after employment begins.


For purposes of this policy, near relatives are defined as spouses, domestic partners, parents, step-parents, children, step-children, brothers or sisters, step/half-brothers or sisters, grandparents, grandchildren, first cousins, uncles or aunts, nephews or nieces, in-laws or other relatives or members of the employee’s household.


Prior to extending a job offer,  a letter signed by the appropriate Dean (or Vice Chancellor in the case of the CFU) or WUSM Department Chair authorizing the employment of a near relative in the same department is required and should be placed in the employee’s personnel file.

A copy should also be forwarded to the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources. In cases where an employment relationship between near relatives has been approved by such a letter, the University retains the right to reconsider the propriety of the relationship at any time. In these situations, an individual may be subject to transfer, reassignment, or other action to avoid an inappropriate working relationship between near relatives.

All employees are expected to conduct themselves in an appropriate business manner regardless of any close personal relationship that may exist or develop during the course of their employment. Behavior that is in any way disruptive or hostile during the normal course of business will not be tolerated and may result in the employee being subjected to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Manager’s Role

Managers who supervise employees who are related to each other should make clear what conduct is appropriate and inappropriate in the workplace, gain commitment to these standards, give prompt feedback if standards are not met and take corrective action, up to and including termination, if employees do not comply. Managers who are hiring employees are responsible for identifying potential issues of nepotism and ensuring that the appropriate initial review as described above has occurred.


Complaints about such relationships should be submitted to the Office of Human Resources – Assistant Vice Chancellor.

Updated August 28, 2018