This course is designed to raise employee awareness about conflicts of interest in the workplace – what constitutes a conflict of interest, how a conflict of interest can be avoided, and the appropriate action to take to ensure that a conflict of interest does not negatively impact the employer or the employee. An employee has a conflict of interest with his or her employer if the employee has any type of personal interest – financial or otherwise – that may impair the employee's judgment, causing the employee to consider his or her own self-interests over those of the employer, when performing job-related duties. A conflict of interest may also exist if the employee has any potential personal interest that may impair the employee's judgment, whether the employee realizes it or not, and even if the employee does not intend to have a conflict of interest. Conflicts of interest do not have to be acted upon to exist – they can be inherent in the relationships and interests an employee has. An employee may have a conflict of interest if the employee's personal interests create the appearance of an impropriety, regardless of whether the employee's judgment is actually impaired. For example, an employee with a conflict of interest may make an impartial decision that benefits the employer, rather than the employee’s own self-interest. However, because of the employee's conflict of interest, the decision might create the appearance of impropriety and the employee's intent or the decision might be called into question. Accordingly, it is best to proactively avoid, disclose and resolve conflicts of interest that may exist, rather than wait for them to be exposed. It is critical for employees, and managers, and executives in particular, in an organization to understand and be able to identify the relationships, interests, activities or actions that may create conflicts of interest for their organization, so they can ensure that effective, fair, and legal practices are followed when making or reviewing business decisions. In addition to enabling employees to recognize conflicts of interest they may have with their employer, this course will enable decision-makers in organizations to identify potential conflicts of interest and develop policies to help employees understand how to avoid, manage, and resolve conflicts of interest.
This course was developed with subject matter support provided by the Labor, Employment, and Employee Benefits Law Group of the law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA. Please note, however, that the course materials and content are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Nothing herein, or in the course materials, shall be construed as professional advice as to any particular situation or constitute a legal opinion with respect to compliance with any federal, state, or local laws. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. The information contained herein is provided only as general information that may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. This information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to constitute legal advice or to substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed in your state.Learning Objectives
- Identify situations that constitute potential (or actual) conflicts of interest
- Identify the definition of the term "conflict of interest"
- Identify the benefits of being able to recognize when a conflict of interest might exist
- Identify types of questions to raise to determine whether a potential conflict of interest exists in given business or professional situations
- Identify key concepts associated with avoiding personal conflicts of interest in business and other professional relationships
- Identify key concepts about regulatory and advisory guidance on conflicts of interest by oversight agencies and professional organizations
- Identify examples of contents of typical conflicts of interest policies
- Recognize the benefits of having a policy on conflicts of interest
- Identify key concepts about actions individuals should take relative to actual or potential conflicts of interest
- Identify key concepts related to investigating and resolving actual or potential conflicts of interest