Consenting “romantic” or sexual relationships between a supervisor and a subordinate employee or employee and student may raise issues of conflict of interest, abuse of authority, favoritism, or sexual harassment because the voluntariness of the consent may be questioned when a power differential exists between the individuals in the relationship. For these reasons, the University had adopted the following policy governing these types of relationships.
Supervisor and Subordinate Relationships
In general, it is deemed unprofessional, inappropriate, and a violation of Lynn University policy for any supervisor to engage in a romantic or sexual relationship, whether or not consented to, with an employee over whom the supervisor oversees, directs or evaluates, now or in the foreseeable future.1 Moreover, no University supervisor may participate in the hiring, promotion, supervision, or evaluation, or in the setting of wages or salaries, for any University employee with whom the supervisor has or has had a romantic or sexual relationship.
In rare instances, academic or administrative considerations may make it desirable that one party be allowed to work in a setting supervised by the other, subject to appropriate conflict management procedures. Accordingly, no supervisor may hire a person with whom he or she has or has had a romantic or sexual relationship unless:
1. The hiring has been approved in advance by the President,
2. The President (or designee) has approved procedures to avoid or reasonably manage conflicts of interest. Such procedures shall ordinarily include arrangements to exclude the supervisor from decisions concerning promotion, setting of wages or salaries, evaluation, or promotion of the other party to the relationship.
If, notwithstanding this Policy, a romantic or sexual relationship between a supervisor and an employee should develop, it shall be the responsibility and mandatory obligation of the supervisor to promptly disclose the existence of the relationship to the employee’s next level supervisor. The supervisor shall then report the relationship to the Director of Employee Services. The employee may make the disclosure as well, but the burden of doing so shall be on the supervisor. Violation or failure to promptly disclose and correct violation of this policy is grounds for corrective action, up to and including termination from employment.
In addition, and in order for the University to deal effectively with any potentially adverse consequences such a relationship may have for the working environment, any person who believes that s/he has been adversely affected by such a relationship, is encouraged to make his or her views about the matter known to the Director of Employee Services or the employee’s department vice president.
The relationship between an instructor and student must be protected from influences or activities that can interfere with learning and objective evaluation. Accordingly, no instructor shall enter into a romantic or sexual relationship with a student over whom the instructor has academic responsibility or is likely to have academic responsibility in the future, regardless of whether the relationship is consensual. Moreover, no instructor shall exercise academic responsibility over a student with whom the instructor has or has had a romantic or sexual relationship, regardless of whether the relationship was consensual.
In addition, because of the heightened risk of a real or perceived power imbalance where undergraduate students are involved, no instructor shall have a romantic or sexual relationship with a Lynn University undergraduate student.
Similarly, no staff member shall have a romantic or sexual relationship, regardless of whether the relationship is consensual, with a student for whom that staff member currently has an advising, mentoring, coaching, evaluation, or student organization management responsibility. Moreover, no staff member shall advise, mentor, or evaluate a student with whom that employee has had a romantic or sexual relationship in the past, regardless of whether the relationship was consensual.
Even where an employee does not have direct responsibility for a student as described above, romantic or sexual relationships between Lynn University employees and students in the same college or department should generally be avoided.
In rare circumstances, the President (or designee) may make an exception to this Policy, provided that appropriate conflict management procedures are implemented.
If, notwithstanding this Policy, a romantic or sexual relationship between an employee and student should develop in violation of this Policy, it shall be the responsibility and mandatory obligation of the supervisor to promptly disclose the existence of the relationship to the Director of Employee Services. Violation or failure to promptly disclose and correct violation of this Policy is grounds for corrective action, up to and including termination from employment.
Romantic or Sexual Relationship–means relationships of a romantic, dating, and/or sexual nature entered into with consent of both parties.
Supervisor–An employee (including faculty), student, or affiliate who: teaches, manages, supervises, advises, coaches, or evaluates in any way other employees, students, student-athletes, or affiliates; and/or has a position of power, control, or the ability to influence decisions with regard to other individuals in the learning, intercollegiate athletics, or working environment of the University.
Policy updated on: Oct. 24, 2018