CEO 86-1 -- January 9, 1986
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE EMPLOYED BY BUSINESS INSPECTED BY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created under Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, where an environmental health specialist with a county health department is employed by a business which is inspected by the health department but which is not located within the geographic area of his responsibilities. CEO 85-81 is referenced.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where you, an environmental health specialist with a county health department, are employed by a business which is inspected by the county health department but which is not located within the geographic area for which you are responsible?
Under the circumstances presented, your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are employed by the Volusia County Health Department as an Environmental Health Specialist. Your responsibilities include regulating or inspecting swimming pools, septic tank installations, food service, food outlets, food processing operations, water samples, public and private water supplies, animal bites, nuisance complaints, and mobile home and recreational vehicle parks within a specific geographic area of the County. Initially you advised that you were employed by a hotel to maintain its swimming pool, but that the hotel is under new ownership and consequently you no longer are employed there. However, you question whether you may seek future employment as a pool maintenance worker with businesses that are regulated by the County Health Department.
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), Florida Statutes (1985).]
In previous opinion CEO 85-81 we advised that this provision would not prohibit an environmental health specialist from being employed by a restaurant as a waitress, cashier, or hostess where she was not responsible for inspecting the restaurant that employed her and she was not responsible for supervising the environmental health specialist who inspected the restaurant. Similarly, you were not responsible for inspecting the hotel swimming pool where you previously were employed and it is clear that you were not responsible for supervising the environmental health specialist who inspects the hotel. Regarding future employment, as long as you are not responsible for inspecting the business entity which employs you and you are not responsible for supervising the environmental health specialist who inspects that business entity, there would be no prohibited conflict of interest created by that employment.
As in CEO 85-81, we would remind you that the Code of Ethics prohibits a public employee from misusing his position to influence the actions or decisions of a fellow employee who is responsible for inspecting or regulating the employee's private employer.