Knowing what constitutes nepotism can prevent it

Nepotism has ancient roots, and so does criticism of the practice. Texts going back eons disparage as unethical the grant of favors to close relatives by those in positions of power. Despite that long-standing disapproval, nepotism remains such a major concern that there are laws that prohibit it, especially within the context of politics.

Every layer of government, from federal to state to municipality, and all the paid individuals serving them, are subject to myriad laws. Violating the laws not only can stain the reputation of officials found guilty of the practice, it can also undermine public confidence and government’s authority and integrity.

Nepotism law in application

To begin to understand how nepotism laws in Texas might apply, it’s helpful to get some clarity on the parameters. For example, anti-nepotism laws bar government entities from hiring close relatives of any public official. Nor can a public official appoint or be part of any voting or confirmation of a close relative to any paid public position. But what does “close” mean?

State code establishes that it means anyone who is a first, second, or third degree of blood relation.

  • First degree includes an official’s parents and children (whether natural or adopted)
  • Second degree applies to siblings, grandparents and grandchildren
  • Third degree encompasses aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and great grandparents or great grand children

The law also prohibits an official from being involved in hiring decisions of relatives by marriage. Spouses and their immediate families are included here, as well as in-laws or a spouse’s second-degree blood relatives.

The law does not always apply. For instance, leaders in towns of fewer than 200 people are not subject, unless a local home-rule charter, ordinances or personnel policies state otherwise. Also, as noted earlier, the prohibitions only when the job in question is a paid position.

It’s also notable that while the law bars action when nepotism conflicts exist, it does not require documentation of the conflict or identify that specific steps be taken.

In the end, the facts of each case determine whether nepotism conflict exists and a lot depends on who holds hiring authority. To avoid any potential of conflict, consulting reliable legal counsel becomes beneficial.