248 – Supervisor-Subordinate Relational Disclosure

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Purpose

This policy provides guidelines for the working relationships of family members within the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) to create a fair and reasonable work environment for all employees.

Definitions

Command Staff Members: Those employees including chief deputy, assistant chief, majors, and any other employee holding equal employment status.

Family or Family Member: Persons who are related by blood or marriage, former spouses, or biological parents of the same child without regard to marriage. Family also includes foster children and foster parents regardless of residency. Family members may also include spouses, parents, grandparents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, adopted children, cousins, and current in-laws.

Intimate Relationship: a relationship where consensual sexual conduct is occurring or is likely to occur.

Reporting Subordinate: an employee located below and assigned directly, or through the chain of command, to a second employee.

Procedure

Fraternization Between Subordinates and Their Reporting Superiors:

  1. Employees in a supervisory position shall keep their relationships with subordinates on a professional basis at all times during working hours. Supervisors shall exercise good judgment by not flirting with, having physical contact with, or sending sexually-oriented communications on county equipment or having intimate relationships during working hours with persons who report, directly or indirectly, to the supervisor as described below.
  2. An employee and supervisor who are assigned to the same division, office, or unit are prohibited from dating or having an intimate relationship that affects their jobs, their safety, or the safety of others.
  3. Chiefs, majors, captains, lieutenants, and sergeants are prohibited from dating or having an intimate relationship with any employee who works in their command.

If a prohibited relationship arises outside the workplace, both employees must immediately inform the highest ranking supervisor in their chain of command about the relationship. If the relationship involves the highest ranking supervisor in the chain of command, then the employees shall inform the Sheriff or his or her designee. The Sheriff shall have the authority to move one or both of the employees to a new position.

Additionally, the HCSO may take remedial action any time a consensual relationship between employees becomes unwelcome, adversely affects any employee’s work environment, safety, the safety of others, or violates any other provision of this policy or other HCSO policies.

Employees who hold the same rank are allowed to work at the same division or worksite with family members and other employees, but such employees are prohibited from riding together.

Employees who hold different ranks are prohibited from working in the same division or in the same chain of command with family members or other employees with whom they share a residence unless one of the following conditions exists:

  1. Separation by at least three ranks and no direct supervision,
  2. Separation by shift (i.e., days, evenings, nights), or
  3. Separation by work site (i.e., different HCSO facilities).

Any exceptions to this subsection must be approved in writing by the Sheriff or his or her designee.

This policy does not apply to the intimate relationship between employees who are married to other HCSO employees on or before this policy’s effective date.

Any existing intimate relationships between superiors and directly reporting subordinate employees, or between command staff members and any HCSO employees, shall be immediately reported in the manner set forth in this policy.

Revision

This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

September 9, 2013

October 6, 2015

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