Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 119
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office
May a city employee seek a contract with the city to provide furniture refinishing services?
A city employee works in one of the uniform services. This employee is skilled in furniture refinishing and is interested in being retained by contract to provide refinishing services to the city. His regular employment is completely unrelated to this type of work, and as a city employee, he would have no role in the awarding or administration of this contract. As proposed, the individual would engage in the additional employment only during hours that he was not assigned to work for the city.
III. The City Charter and the Ethics Code – Prohibited Interests in Contracts
Section 141 of the City Charter provides:
No officer or employee of the City shall have a financial interest, direct or indirect, in any contract with the City, or shall be financially interested, directly or indirectly, in the sale to the City of any land, materials, supplies, or service, except on behalf of the City as an officer or employee.
The prohibition is reiterated in Section 2-52 of the city’s Ethics Code. Section 2-52 defines “employees” who are subject to this prohibition as “any employee of the city who is required to file a financial disclosure statement pursuant to Section 2-73(a).” The employee in this inquiry is not in a category of employee required to file financial disclosure statements under Section 2-73(a). Accordingly, the prohibition under Section 141 of the City Charter and Section 2-52 of the city’s Ethics Code is not applicable to this employee.
IV. The Ethics Code - Conflicting Outside Employment
Section 2-48 of the Ethics Codes states:
(a) General Rule. A city official or employee shall not solicit, accept, or engage in concurrent outside employment which could reasonably be expected to impair the independence of judgment in, or faithful performance of, official duties.
(b) Special Application. The following special rule applies in addition to the general rule: A city official or employee shall not provide services to an outside employer related to the official’s or employee’s city duties.
(c) Other Rules. The general rule stated above applies in addition to all other rules relating to outside employment of city officials and employees, including requirement for obtaining prior approval of outside employment as applicable.
The proposed city contract employment is completely unrelated to his assigned duties as a city employee. Further, there is no indication from the facts presented that he would be overseeing or directing activity related to the contract work in his capacity as a city employee. Accordingly, the Ethics Code would not preclude the employee from engaging in this outside employment.
Because this is outside employment, the individual may not use any city resource, including his city duty time, to carry out his responsibilities to the outside employer, other than resources provided pursuant to the contract. Any conflicts in scheduling or duties must be resolved in favor of fulfilling his employment obligations to the city.
In addition, under Personnel Rule XXIV, the employee must obtain written approval from his department before engaging in the outside employment. Assuming that the outside employment will not interfere with the employee’s work for the city and assuming the department head has approved the additional employment in writing, the employee may accept the additional employment.
Assuming compliance with Municipal Civil Service Rule XXIV and any department outside employment requirements, the employee may seek and accept contract employment outside his duty hours for the city, so long as he complies with any applicable personnel rules concerning outside employment.