Staff Handbook



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6.2 CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY

Ethics laws, including those relating to conflicts of interest, are governed by state statute, the state Ethics Commission, and internally by the University.  See Mississippi Code § 25-4105 and Section 109 of the Mississippi Constitution.  Whether a policy or procedure explicitly proscribes against conflicts of interests or not, it is implied in all University policies that conflicts of interest must be avoided. 
 
For purposes of fairness and in order to comply with University and Mississippi requirements, all personnel must proactively avoid conflicts of interest as well as the appearance of a conflict of interest.  Should a real or apparent conflict of interest arise, the employee must recuse himself or herself, or otherwise act to remedy the conflict, or the University may take such action to remove the actual or appearance of impropriety.
 
It is the University’s policy that all state ethical laws be strictly followed.  As interpreted by Mississippi law, it is a breach of ethical standards and prohibited for an employee to use his position at the University to obtain any sort of financial gain for himself or a family member other than the employee's compensation.  A conflict of interest may include but is not limited to an employee's participation directly or indirectly in procurement when:
 
  1. The employee or any immediate member of the employee's family has a financial interest pertaining to the procurement;
  2. A business organization in which the employee, or any member of the employee's immediate family, has a financial interest pertaining to the procurement;
  3. Any other person, business, or organization is involved in the procurement with which an employee or any member of an employee's immediate family is negotiating or has an arrangement concerning prospective employment.
An individual with an existing employment relationship with the University shall not be permitted to enter a separate contract for payment with the University.  This prohibition does not include renewals of existing employment contracts, but does prevent contracts for additional services for additional payments as well as contracts with business entities or companies in which a University employee is a substantial member.  Under some circumstances, an employee's relative may benefit from a contract with the University if the employee does not have direct or indirect control over the contract. 
 
Contracts, which violate the state conflicts of interest laws, may be declared void, and may also subject an individual to punitive fines as well as other disciplinary action.  Violating state ethics laws may also result in criminal prosecution, and payments due under such contracts may be forfeited.  All University contracts should contain a provision, which references in essence that the contract may be void and unenforceable if a conflict of interest exists. 
 
For further information, please consult the Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, Sections 25-4-101 et seq., Section 1200 of the Policies and Bylaws of the Board of Trustees for Institutions of Higher Learning, or Mississippi Ethics Commission opinions.