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Are their ethical laws in the workplace? How ethical is it, for a "boss" to be on a "interview" panel for a relative?

Carson, CA |
Filed under: Professional ethics

A fellow worker had same day interview, he went before me. His Brother was on the interview forum. Is that something illegal, how can a relative be unbiased? If that brother gets the job, and I didn't, would their be anything I could do to complain legally? I have interviewed another time, and didn't get that position either. I have over 10 years in the field.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. No ethics in business or the workplace like that, unless unlawful discrimination of a protected class (sex, race, age) but those are darned hard to PROVE in a firing or hiring situation.

    As far as nepotism or cronyism as being a reason for hiring, that's unfortunately both typical if not ubiquitous right now, it's all about "networking" and who you know, not what you know, in most workplaces.

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  2. Nepotism in and of itself isn't illegal. Concur with counsel.

    Ms. Johns can be reached at either her Woodland Hills or San Diego offices at (866) 402-4038. Her email address is hjohns@hjohnsatlaw.com. Ms. Johns is a lawyer although she is not your lawyer unless and until you have consulted with her and an authorized representative of her office and signed a fee or letter agreement confirming her representation of you. Ms. Johns, their lawyers, and her employees are not tax or financial advisors and do not give tax or financial advice. If you wish such professional advice, you are advised to consult with the appropriate professionals.


  3. The only "ethics" in the business world are those that the businesses themselves impose on themselves. Many companies have Codes of Conduct, or Business Ethics Guidelines by which they want their employees to govern themselves. However, other than internal ethical restraints, there is not a general "Rules of Ethics" applicable to business in general other than the laws on the books governing what is legal and unlawful, like certain government contracting rules or conflict of interest laws.

    Of course, depending on the business there might be ethics codes. For instance, attorneys have an ethics code with which they must comply. There are other similar businesses, usually confined to what are traditionally called professions.

    In your situation, an employer is allowed to make employment decisions while embroiled in a conflict of interest. An employer may have a policy to only hire blood relatives and not violate the law. Nepotism and favoritism are fully legal bases as long as the favoritism is not based on membership in a protected class of people.

    Good luck to you.

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