CEO 82-21 -- April 8, 1982
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION MEMBER EMPLOYED BY CITY'S AFFIRMATIVE ACTION OFFICE
To: Mr. G. Edward Martin, Chairman, Jacksonville Equal Opportunity Commission
No prohibited conflict of interest exists where a member of a city equal employment opportunity commission also is employed by the city's affirmative action office. As the affirmative action office is part of the office of the mayor, the employee's agency is the office of the mayor under Section 112.312(2), F.S. However, the office of the mayor is not doing business with or subject to the regulation of the commission. Nor would a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest be created since the commission has no authority over the employee's conditions of employment with the affirmative action office and since that office rarely is involved in employment discrimination complaints before the commission.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where a member of a city equal employment opportunity commission also is employed by the city's affirmative action office?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that Ms. Delores Shaw was appointed in 1980 to serve as a member of the Jacksonville Equal Opportunity Commission (JEOC). You also advise that in 1981 she sought and gained employment with the City and presently works in the City's Affirmative Action Office. In a telephone conversation with our staff, the Executive Director of the JEOC advised that JEOC is a five-member commission created by City Ordinance to resolve employment discrimination complaints arising out of both the private and public sectors. He also advised that the subject Commission member was hired by the Office of the Mayor and her work is supervised by the City's Affirmative Action Officer, who is part of the Office of the Mayor. Thus, the JEOC has no authority over her pay or conditions of employment, although her position is funded through the JEOC. As a member of the Affirmative Action staff, she is responsible for investigations of complaints of violations of the City's affirmative action ordinance. In contrast, equal employment opportunity complaints are referred to the JEOC.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . ; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. [Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S.](1981).
The first portion of this provision would prohibit a member of the JEOC from having any employment with an agency which is doing business with or subject to the regulation of the JEOC. As she is an employee in the Affirmative Action Office of the Office of the Mayor, we find that the agency with which she is employed is the Office of the Mayor. See Section 112.312(2), F.S., defining the term "agency."
However, nothing in the circumstances you have presented indicates that the Office of the Mayor is doing business with the JEOC. Nor do we find that the Office of the Mayor is subject to the regulation of the JEOC. Although the Office of the Mayor may be the subject of an employment discrimination complaint before the JEOC, we do not find that this is a regulatory relationship within the contemplation of the Code of Ethics. Were we to find otherwise, no member of the JEOC could hold any employment in either the public or private sector within the geographic jurisdiction of the JEOC. We do not believe that such a result was intended by the Legislature when it adopted s. 112.313(7)(a).
The second portion of that section prohibits the subject JEOC member from holding any employment which will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or would impede the full and faithful discharge of her public duties. The term "conflict of interest" is defined to mean a "a situation in which regard for a private interest tends to lead to disregard of a public duty or interest." s. 112.312(6), F.S. In this respect we note that the JEOC has no authority over the subject Commission member's terms or conditions of employment while on the Affirmative Action's staff. Therefore, it does not appear that there would be any conflict between her duties as a member of the JEOC and her private interests. In addition, the Executive Director of the JEOC advised that although employment discrimination complaints concerning City agencies frequently are handled by the JEOC, the Affirmative Action Office is involved in these cases infrequently and only to a slight extent.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists where the subject member of the JEOC also is employed by the Affirmative Action Office of the City.