Compliance with Alabama Ethics Law and Related UAB Policies
Click on a topic for more information:
- Legal Duty to File Statement of Economic Interest
- Proof of Mandatory On-Line Ethics Training within 90 Days of Date of Hire
- Information on Amendments to Ethics Act & Gifts to Public Employees
- Ethics Law Pertaining to UAB Employees Selling Textbooks
- Ethics Law Pertaining to Selling Tickets to Athletic Events
- Policies on Use of UAB Property for Personal Gain
- Criminal Act to Use Property/Human Labor for Personal Reasons
- Criminal Act to Use Position for Financial Gain/Rules for Contracts with UAB
- Violation of UAB Enterprise Code of Conduct and Faculty Standards of Behavior, and AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics to Use Students for Private Advantage
- University Policies on Patents, Copyright, and Intellectual Property
- Acceptable Use of Computer and Network Resources
- Rules for Warehousing UAB Property
- Inappropriate Conduct Regarding Use of State Property
- Political Activity
- Employment of Members of the Same Family
- UAB Ethics Hotline
1. Legal Duty to File Statement of Economic Interest. Alabama Code, Section 36-25-14 requires all full-time public employees who make a salary of $75,000 or higher to file a Statement of Economic Interests no later than April 30. Each person who meets the necessary criteria, regardless of whether they retired the previous year or served/worked in the public position for any time (even a portion of one day) during the previous year, is required to file. The duty of an employee to comply with the Ethics Act, including the duty to file the Statement of Economic Interests, rests with the employee, not UAB. Employees who are required to file, but fail to timely file a Statement of Economic Interests with the Ethics Commission may be fined $10.00 per day not to exceed $1,000.00 or be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for intentional failure to file (see Alabama Code, Section 36-25-14(d) & (e)). More information about this requirement and the Statement of Economic Interests is available at http://ethics.alabama.gov/forms-ecint2.aspx.
2. Proof of Mandatory On-Line Ethics Training within 90 Days of Date of Hire. Under the December 2010 Amendments to the Alabama Ethics Act, all public employees required to file Statements of Economic Interest forms were required to participate in an online educational review of the Alabama Ethics Law provided by the Ethics Commission by April 30, 2011. Employees hired after January 1, 2011 have 90 days to comply with the law. For example, if you are hired effective August 16 you must complete this training no later than November 14. Per the law, you must provide evidence of completion of the educational review to the Ethics Commission via an electronic reporting system provided on the State Ethics Commission website. The on-line training may be located at: http://ethics.alabama.gov/info-training.aspx.
3. Information on Amendments to Ethics Act & Gifts to Public Employees. Additional information about the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Amendments to the Ethics Act, which contains rules regarding conflicts of interest, public contracts, lobbying activities, and restrictions on gifts to public employees may be found at: http://ethics.alabama.gov/default2.aspx. For example, public employees may not solicit or receive anything for the purpose of corruptly influencing official action, regardless of whether or not the thing solicited or received is a thing of value. Family members of public employees may not receive anything given to them for the purpose of corruptly influencing official action. No public employee shall, other than in the ordinary course of business, solicit a thing of value from a subordinate or person or business with whom he or she directly inspects, regulates, or supervises in his or her official capacity. Excluded from the definition of “thing of value” are meals at educational functions/workshops/widely attended functions or items or services of de minimis value, or meals under $25 (maximum of $50 per year). To learn more about Alabama statutes on gifts, see the Alabama ethics commission’s guidelines. This information includes additional information, Do’s & Don’ts, and FAQs on Alabama Ethics Law: http://ethics.alabama.gov/docs/GuidelinesPublicOfficialsEmployees7-2012.pdf.
4. Ethics Law Pertaining to UAB Employees Selling Textbooks. UAB employees who consider selling instructor editions or complimentary copies of textbooks provided by textbook publishing companies should be aware of their obligations as state employees under the state ethics law. This law says that state employees cannot receive personal gain for themselves or members of their families as a result of their state employment. Violations of the state ethics law occur if a UAB employee sells his or her instructor edition or a complimentary copy of a textbook or any related materials (study guides, test banks, supplementary CDs, etc.) to anyone, including a student, bookstore or online textbook reseller, unless the proceeds of that sale are retained by the University rather than the employee. For example, the sale proceeds can be deposited into a departmental account to purchase office supplies or used for similar institutional purposes. See Alabama Code, Section 36-25-5, Use of Official Position or Office for Personal Gain.
5. Ethics Law Pertaining to Selling Tickets to Athletic Events. UAB employees who consider selling their faculty-staff athletic tickets or their athletic ticket order form should be aware of their obligations as state employees under the state ethics law. This law says that state employees cannot receive personal gain for themselves or members of their family as a result of their state employment. Based on information provided by the State Ethics Commission, violations of the state ethics law occur if a UAB employee:
• Sells his/her athletic ticket order form to anyone, including a non-employee;
• Sells his/her faculty-staff tickets for more than the employee paid for them; or
• Gives his/her athletic ticket order form to anyone, including a non-employee, and then receives something of value in return
Since demand for tickets may be greater than the number of tickets available for faculty and staff, please consider offering your tickets to a colleague or co-worker if you are not able to attend a game. Remember that giving or selling your ticket order form to a non-employee usually means that a UAB employee does not have the opportunity to order tickets.
7. Criminal Act to Use Property/Human Labor for Personal Reasons. It is a violation of the State Ethics Code (felony or misdemeanor, depending on facts) for a UAB employee to use or cause to be used equipment, facilities, time, materials, human labor, or other UAB property under his/her discretion or control for the private benefit or business benefit of that employee, except as otherwise provided by law or pursuant to a lawful employment agreement. It is also illegal for a person to solicit a UAB employee to do these things for that person’s private or business benefit, except as otherwise provided by law. This includes using students and/or employees to perform personal errands or favors for non-work related purposes. See Alabama Code, Section 36-25-5.
8. Criminal Act to Use Position for Financial Gain/Rules for Contracts with UAB. It is a violation of the State Ethics Code (felony or misdemeanor, depending on facts) for a UAB employee to use his/her position with UAB to obtain personal gain for themselves, a family member or any business with which the employee is associated. Section 36-25-11 of the Code of Alabama 1975, as amended, prevents any public official or public employee, or members of their households, or any businesses associated with these people from entering into a contract that will be paid for using government funds unless the contract has been awarded through the state’s competitive-bidding process. The contract must then be filed with the appropriate state official within 10 days of its execution. See Alabama Code, Section 36-35-5 and Section 36-25-11.
9. Violation of UAB Enterprise Code of Conduct and Faculty Standards of Behavior, and AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics to Use Students for Private Advantage. It is a violation of the Code of Conduct for a faculty or staff member to exploit students for his/her private advantage. A faculty or staff member should also acknowledge significant assistance from students, demonstrate respect for the student as an individual, and assure that evaluation of that student reflects their true merit. See the UAB Enterprise Code of Conduct and Faculty Handbook 3.6, Standards of Behavior.
10. University Policies on Patents, Copyright, and Intellectual Property. Intellectual property generated during the course of your employment may also be owned by UAB. Become familiar with all patent, copyright, and intellectual property policies:
12. Rules for Warehousing UAB Property. As a state-funded entity, employees are prohibited from throwing away or discarding UAB property. When things are no longer useful to a department, they may be sent to the Surplus Warehouse and then sold to the public. The only way an item that was purchased with State funds can be sold is to offer it to the general public through a public auction. See UAB’s policy on Transfer of Ownership of UAB Property, Equipment Accountability Policy, Surplus Warehouse Policy and Procedure, and Equipment Disposition Procedure.
13. Inappropriate Conduct Regarding Use of State Property. Employees are prohibited from engaging in the following conduct and may be disciplined, up to and including dismissal: dishonest acts; appropriating state or student equipment, time, or resources for personal use or gain; misusing or neglecting UAB property, funds, materials, equipment or supplies; or stealing or possessing without authority any equipment, tools, materials or other UAB property or attempting to remove them from the premises without approval or permission from the appropriate authority. See Equipment Accountability Policy.
14. Political Activity. According to University of Alabama Board Rule 304, all UAB employees and faculty are prohibited from the use, or appearance of the use, of the UAB name or resources in support of a political campaign or organization. This rule recognizes the civil and political rights and responsibilities of UAB personnel and encourages them to fulfill their responsibilities as private citizens. It prohibits, however, the use or appearance of use of UAB resources, time, or property for or on behalf of any political candidate, campaign, or organization or for any contribution or solicitation of any contribution to a political campaign or organization. No UAB employee shall lend or appear to lend the support of UAB in connection with any contribution or solicitation of any contribution to a political campaign or organization. When an employee is involved in political activity, it is incumbent upon them to make clear that they are acting in a private and individual capacity and that their activities have neither UAB sponsorship nor support. UAB employees may not seek or hold public office and remain employed at UAB if such activities could or would result in a conflict of interest or interfere with the employee carrying out his University responsibilities. Employees who intend to seek election to public office must first obtain written consent from the University of Alabama Chancellor through appropriate reporting channels. See University of Alabama Board Rule 304, HR Policy 615 - Political Activity, and Faculty Handbook 3.3 – Political Activity.
15. Employment of Members of the Same Family. Alabama Code, Section 41-1-5, prohibits an employee of UAB from appointing (hiring) any person related to him within the fourth degree of affinity or consanguinity to any job with UAB. If this rule is violated, the appointment is deemed void and the person can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $500 and imprisoned for up to one year. In addition, UAB policy provides that individuals who are related by blood, marriage, adoption, or who reside in the same household are permitted to work in the same department provided no direct reporting of supervisor to subordinate relationship exists. That is, no employee is permitted to work within the chain of command when work responsibilities, salary, hours, career progress, benefits or other terms and conditions of one relative could be influenced by the other relative. See University of Alabama Board Rule 106, UAB Enterprise Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Policy, and HR Policy 123 – Nepotism. For information on exceptions, see Nepotism at UAB.
16. UAB Ethics Hotline. If you see or suspect unethical or illegal behavior in violation of the Ethics Laws, report your concerns to your department chair, Dean’s office, or anonymously through the UAB Ethics Hotline: http://www.uab.edu/ethics/. If the University becomes aware of a violation of the Ethics Law, it must report the matter to the State Ethics Commission (Alabama Code, Section 36-25-17).