Tutorial for Employees

 

Question 1:

A person who really wants a contract with the county contacts the county department that is issuing a request for proposal and offers to give an employee who is responsible for reviewing proposals Milwaukee Bucks tickets if the employee will favorably consider his submission. What should the employee do?

 

a.         Tell the individual that it is against the law to accept the tickets and that the proposal will be reviewed according to county criteria.

 

b.         Accept the tickets and favorably consider the proposal.

 

c.         Pretend to decline the tickets but tell the individual that he will favorably consider the proposal and pick up the tickets later.

 
 

Question 2:

A county employee has worked with many different vendors doing business with the county. The employee is thinking of looking for a job in the private sector. May the employee seek employment with the vendors that do business with the county?

 

a.         Yes, the employee may seek employment with the vendors.

 

b.         No, the employee may not seek employment with the vendors.

 

c.         Yes, the employee may seek employment with the vendors, but the employee may not use any inside information learned while working for the county to benefit her new employer, and for one year after leaving county service, the employee may not have any contact with the county department for which she had worked.

 
 

Question 3:

A county department recently purchased new copy machines. The copy machine company sends a box of candy to the employee who was responsible for purchasing the copy machines. The company does this for all of its new clients. May the employee keep the box of candy?

 

a.         Yes, there are no restrictions on accepting gifts from vendors.

 

b.         Yes the employee may accept it, but should share it with his co-workers.

 

c.         No, the employee must send it back.

 
 

Question 4:

A county department recently purchased new copy machines. During negotiations, the salesperson told the employee responsible for the purchase that he had been trying to get county business for a long time and he would make it worth the employee’s while if his company was selective. After the purchase is complete, the salesperson sends the employee a $250 gift certificate to a local spa with a note that says “Thank you for making this happen.” May the employee keep it?

 

a.         Yes, because the salesperson gave the gift certificate to the employee after the purchase was made.

 

b.         Yes, as long as the employee tells her supervisor about the gift certificate.

 

c.         No, the employee must send the gift certificate back.

 
 

Question 5:

A county employee is moving this weekend and doesn’t want to pay for a moving truck. The employee drives a pickup truck for his job with the county, so he asks his supervisor if it is okay for him to use the truck to move. The supervisor says it is okay as long as he signs out for it. Is it okay for the employee to use the county truck to move some things?

 

a.         No, the employee may not use the county truck for personal reasons.

 

b.         Yes, the employee may use the county truck for personal reasons, but only if he refills the gas tank when he’s done using it.

 

c.         Yes, the employee may use the county truck for personal reasons, since he got his supervisor’s permission first.

 
 

Question 6:

A county employee is in charge of hiring a part-time assistant for her department. The employee thinks that her son, who is living with her while attending college, would be perfect for the job. May the employee hire her son?

 

a.         Yes, the employee may hire her son as long as he is qualified for the job.

 

b.         No, the employee may not hire her son for the job.

 

c.         Yes, the employee may hire her son for the job as long as someone else will be supervising him once he starts working.

 
 

Question 7:

A county employee is on a departmental committee that is responsible for reviewing bids for county contracts. The employee’s friend owns a company and wants to submit a bid. The friend calls the employee at home and asks him for privileged information about the department’s criteria for judging the bids which is not available to the other bidders. What should the employee do?

 

a.         The employee should give his friend some privileged information that no other bidders are privy to. The friend really needs this contract, and no one from the county knows that they are friends.

 

b.         The employee should tell his friend that he cannot give out any privileged information, but the employee can give his friend the standard criteria for reviewing the proposals.

 

c.         The employee should tell his friend that he cannot give out any information.

 

 

Question 8:

An employee calls her mother, who lives in a Florida retirement community, every Monday on her lunch break. However, this week, the employee is all out of minutes on her cell phone. May the employee use her office telephone instead?

 

a.         Yes, the employee may call her mother from her office telephone, as long as she makes the call during her lunch break and reimburses the county for the cost of the call.

 

b.         No, the employee may not make the call from her office telephone, because the call is long distance. If the employee’s mother lived in Milwaukee, it would be permissible for the employee to make the call.

 

c.         No, the employee may not make the call from her office telephone, because office telephones may not be used for personal calls.

 
 

Question 9: 

A county employee is attending night classes at a technical college. Since the college is near the employee’s county office, the employee would like to stay after work and use the office computer and printer for her homework. Is this allowed?

 

a.         Yes, as long as the equipment use is minimal.

 

b.         Yes, the employee may use the computer, but not the printer.

 

c.         No, office equipment cannot be used for any personal reasons.

 

 

Question 10:

A county employee’s relative is running for a state elective office. May the employee wear a button endorsing his relative’s candidacy at work?

 

a.         No, a county employee may not wear any political clothing or items at work.

 

b.         Yes, as long it is not disruptive to the work environment.

 

c.         Yes, as long as no one complains about it.

 
           

Question 11: 

The employees of a county department have been asked to attend a conference hosted by a national association. The department does not have any travel money left in the budget, so the conference organizers offer to pay for food, transportation and lodging for two department employees. May the employees accept?

 

a.         Yes, but only if the conference is related to their duties as county employees.

 

b.         Yes, but only if the employees pay for half the costs out of their own pockets.

 

c.         No, because the food, transportation and lodging will cost more than $25.

 
 

Question 12:

A county employee is asked to give a luncheon speech about county government at a local business conference. The employee was asked to give this speech because of his position in county government. Afterwards, the conference organizer sends the employee a check for $500 with a note explaining that this is payment for speaking at the conference. May the employee keep the $500?

 

a.         No, this is a prohibited honorarium.

 

b.         Yes, the employee may keep half, but he has to give the other half to the county.

 

c.         Yes, the employee may keep the $500, with qualifications.

 
 

Question 13:

A county employee is asked to speak on county government issues at an out-of-state conference. The conference organizer offers to pay for the employee’s travel, food and lodging, as well as a $500 honorarium. The employee was contacted through her county office, and the conference will take place during the workweek. The employee will continue to receive her county salary for the days she is at the conference. May the employee accept the travel, food, lodging and $500?

 

a.         The employee may accept the travel, food and lodging, but not the $500.

 

b.         The employee may accept the travel, food, lodging and $500, but the $500 must be paid to the county.

 

c.         The employee may not accept the travel, food, lodging or $500, since she will be receiving her salary during the conference.

 
 

Question 14:

A county employee’s relative is running for a county elective office. The employee is aware of the prohibition on wearing campaign clothing, but he really wants to promote his relative’s campaign. The employee changes the screen saver on his computer to a message about voting for his relative, hoping that his co-workers will see it when they pass by his desk. Is this permissible?

 

a.         No, this is still considered campaign activity, and it is prohibited.

 

b.         Yes, because the employee is not wearing any campaign clothing or distributing campaign literature.

 

c.         Yes, but only if the employee’s computer is in an area not visible to the public.

 
 

Question 15:

A county department pays for one of its employees to attend a computer training class. As part of the class, the employee receives an instructional manual. The employee would like to keep the manual for her personal use. May she keep it?

 

a.         Yes, as long as the manual is worth less than $25.

 

b.         No, the manual belongs to the county.

 

c.         No, the manual must be returned to the instructor at the end of the class.

 
 
Question 16:

A county department pays for one of its employees to attend a computer training class. At the class, the company hands out free t-shirts as a promotional item to all of the attendees. May the employee keep the t-shirt?

 

a.         Yes, as long as the t-shirt was a promotional item offered to all of the class attendees.

 

b.         No, the t-shirt belongs to the county.

 

c.         No, the employee is not allowed to accept the t-shirt and must return it to the instructor at the end of the class.

 
 

Question 17:

The director of a county department is too busy with work to pick up his dry cleaning, and he needs his suit for a committee meeting that evening. May the director send his administrative assistant to pick up his dry cleaning?

 

a.         Yes, this will free up the director’s time for more work, and the director’s time is more valuable than the administrative assistant’s time.

 

b.         No, this would be an improper use of the administrative assistant for personal reasons.

 

c.         Yes, as long as the employee doesn’t mind picking up the dry cleaning.

 
 

Question 18:

A county employee needs some extra cash, so she gets a job as a restaurant server on the weekends. Is this permissible?

 

a.         Yes, there is nothing prohibiting county employees from seeking outside employment.

 

b.         No, if you work for the county you may not hold any other jobs.

 

c.         Yes, but only if the employee gets her supervisor’s permission.

 
 

Question 19:

A private company is developing a new product and wants to submit a bid to the county. The company offers a part-time job to a county employee. The company wants the county employee to use his knowledge acquired while working for the county to improve the product so the bid will be selective. The county employee will be able to do this work on nights and weekends while he is not on the clock for the county. Is this permissible?

 

a.         Yes, there is nothing prohibiting county employees from seeking outside employment.

 

b.         Yes, as long as the county employee is not involved with the bid selection process.

 

c.         No, this arrangement would violate the Ethics Code.

 
 
 
 

Print your Certificate of Completion, sign it, and forward it to your departmental payroll section to include in your personnel file.

 


 

Answer Key

 

Answer 1:
a – The Ethics Code prohibits county employees from using their public position for private benefit. County employees are also prohibited from accepting gifts or items that could influence their official action(M.C.G.O. §§ 9.01(2)(b), 9.05(2)(a) and (b)).  It would be a violation of the Ethics Code for the employee to accept the tickets.

 

Answer 2:
c – The Ethics Code does not prohibit a county employee from seeking employment with companies that do business with the county.  The Ethics Code does, however, prohibit a county employee from using his or her public position and/or using privileged information gained in the course of county employment to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value (M.C.G.O. §§ 9.05(2)(b) and (d)). Under M.C.G.O § 9.02(14).  “Privileged information” is defined as information obtained under government authority which has not become part of the body of public information.

 

Answer 3:
b –The Ethics Code prohibits a county employee from accepting “anything of value” that could reasonably be considered a reward for official action (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(b)).  “Anything of value” means any money or property, favor, service, payment, advance, forbearance, loan, or promise of future employment, business, or other consideration having a value greater than $25.  Here, the intention of the company is promotional and not intended to influence a decision or action.  The employee may therefore keep the candy. While sending it back would not be improper, it is not necessary.  The employee should be mindful that a gift that is directed to an individual raises ethics questions, and it is therefore more appropriate to share the gift with all department personnel.

 

Answer 4:
c – The Ethics Code prohibits a county employee from accepting “anything of value” that could reasonably be considered a reward for official action (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(b)).  Since the gift certificate could reasonably be considered a reward, the employee must either send it back.

 

Answer 5:
a – County employees are prohibited from using county property for personal use.  This prohibition applies to all county equipment, even if the equipment is signed out, and even if a supervisor approves the use.  County equipment may not be used for personal reasons under any circumstances.

 

Answer 6:
b – County employees are prohibited from using their public position to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value for their immediate family members. (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(a)).  This includes hiring family members.  “Immediate family” means an individual’s spouse, or a child, parent, sibling, in-law or step-relative of the same degree who receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support from the individual or from whom the individual receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support.  Since the employee’s son lives at home with her and receives more than one-half of his support from her, he is considered an immediate family member.  Therefore, the employee may not hire her son for the job.

 

Answer 7:
b – The Ethics Code prohibits a county employee from divulging confidential information that has been acquired during employment with the county which in any way could result in financial gain to the employee or any other person. (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(d)).  Therefore, the employee cannot give his friend any privileged information that was not provided to other bidders.

 

Answer 8:
c – County employees are prohibited from using county property (including telephones) for personal use.  Therefore, the employee may not use her office telephone to call her mother.  However, many county departments have exceptions for emergency use and/or specific policies on the use of cell phones and county telephones.  Employees should also check to see if their departments have specific policies regarding the use of telephones and cell phones while working.

 

Answer 9:
c – County equipment cannot be used for any personal reasons.  This prohibition includes computer use. County departments may have exceptions regarding computer use.

 

Answer 10:
a – A county employee may not engage in any political activity at work.  This includes: wearing or displaying campaign material, distributing campaign literature, soliciting contributions for any candidate, engaging in political campaign activities for any candidate, or circulating nomination papers for any elective office. (M.C.G.O. § 9.06(1)).  Therefore, the employee may not wear a button endorsing his relative’s candidacy at work.  The employee may wear the button when he is not working.
County employees are prohibited from all political activity while working, regardless of what type of election is involved. (M.C.G.O. § 9.06(1)).  This prohibition includes federal, state, county and municipal elections.

 

Answer 11:
a – In general, a county employee cannot use his or her position for private benefit or accept anything of value that could reasonably be expected to influence the employee’s actions or judgment or be construed as a reward for past action (M.C.G.O. §§ 9.01 and 9.05).  However, a county employee is allowed to attend a conference and accept travel and lodging expenses as long as the event is primarily related to the employee’s duties and the travel and lodging expenses are sanctioned by the event organizer and primarily benefit the county (not the employee).  Before accepting any travel or lodging from anyone other than the county, an employee should seek approval of his or her department head and/or the Ethics Board.

 

Answer 12:
c – Yes, the employee may keep the honorarium subject to certain conditions. A county employee may receive and retain compensation for a speech only if the speech is accomplished without the use of the county’s time, resources or property, and is done outside the course of the employee’s official duties (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(3)).  In addition, if the employee is required to file a Statement of Economic Interests, the honorarium must be reported unless it is returned within 30 days of receipt (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(2)(a) and (b)).

 

Answer 13:
b – The employee may accept the travel, food and lodging, since the county is the primary beneficiary.  The employee may also accept the $500, but must pay the $500 to the county, because attendance at the conference is part of his employment (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(4)).

 

Answer 14:
a – All political activity while working for the county is prohibited (M.C.G.O. § 9.06(1)).  This includes dissemination of any campaign messages in any shape or form.  The employee may only promote his relative’s campaign while he is not at work.

 

Answer 15:
b – Even though employees can sometimes keep small promotional items that are not intended to influence or reward official action, the class was paid for by the county and provided as part of the employee’s training. The training manual therefore belongs to the county.

 

Answer 16:
a –The t-shirt can be considered a promotional item and the employee can keep it.  The t-shirts were widely distributed to all of the class attendees, and the t-shirt was not intended to influence or reward the employee’s official actions.  If the employee does not feel comfortable keeping the t-shirt, she may return it.

 

Answer 17:
b – County employees may not use any county resources for personal use.  This includes using a county employee for personal reasons.

 

Answer 18:
a – There are no Ethics Code provisions that prevent a county employee from seeking outside employment – provided that the outside employment is done on the employee’s own time and not on county time.

 

Answer 19:
c – County employees are prohibited from using their public position to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value for themselves or for organizations with which they are associated (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(a)). County employees are also prohibited from disclosing privileged information acquired through their employment which could result in financial gain for themselves or anyone else (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(d)).  Both of these Ethics Code provisions would be implicated by the arrangement described in this question.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer 1:

a – The Ethics Code prohibits county employees from using their public position for private benefit. County employees are also prohibited from accepting gifts or items that could influence their official action(M.C.G.O. §§ 9.01(2)(b), 9.05(2)(a) and (b)). It would be a violation of the Ethics Code for the employee to accept the tickets.

 

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Answer 2:

c – The Ethics Code does not prohibit a county employee from seeking employment with companies that do business with the county. The Ethics Code does, however, prohibit a county employee from using his or her public position and/or using privileged information gained in the course of county employment to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value (M.C.G.O. §§ 9.05(2)(b) and (d)). Under M.C.G.O § 9.02(14). “Privileged information” is defined as information obtained under government authority which has not become part of the body of public information.

 

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Answer 3:

b –The Ethics Code prohibits a county employee from accepting “anything of value” that could reasonably be considered a reward for official action (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(b)). “Anything of value” means any money or property, favor, service, payment, advance, forbearance, loan, or promise of future employment, business, or other consideration having a value greater than $25. Here, the intention of the company is promotional and not intended to influence a decision or action. The employee may therefore keep the candy. While sending it back would not be improper, it is not necessary. The employee should be mindful that a gift that is directed to an individual raises ethics questions, and it is therefore more appropriate to share the gift with all department personnel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

Answer 4:

c – The Ethics Code prohibits a county employee from accepting “anything of value” that could reasonably be considered a reward for official action (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(b)). Since the gift certificate could reasonably be considered a reward, the employee must either send it back.

 

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Answer 5:

a – County employees are prohibited from using county property for personal use. This prohibition applies to all county equipment, even if the equipment is signed out, and even if a supervisor approves the use. County equipment may not be used for personal reasons under any circumstances.

 

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Answer 6:

b – County employees are prohibited from using their public position to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value for their immediate family members. (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(a)). This includes hiring family members. “Immediate family” means an individual’s spouse, or a child, parent, sibling, in-law or step-relative of the same degree who receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support from the individual or from whom the individual receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support. Since the employee’s son lives at home with her and receives more than one-half of his support from her, he is considered an immediate family member. Therefore, the employee may not hire her son for the job.

 

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Answer 7:

b – The Ethics Code prohibits a county employee from divulging confidential information that has been acquired during employment with the county which in any way could result in financial gain to the employee or any other person. (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(d)). Therefore, the employee cannot give his friend any privileged information that was not provided to other bidders. 

 

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Answer 8:

c – County employees are prohibited from using county property (including telephones) for personal use. Therefore, the employee may not use her office telephone to call her mother. However, many county departments have exceptions for emergency use and/or specific policies on the use of cell phones and county telephones. Employees should also check to see if their departments have specific policies regarding the use of telephones and cell phones while working.

 

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Answer 9:

c – County equipment cannot be used for any personal reasons. This prohibition includes computer use. County departments may have exceptions regarding computer use.

 

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Answer 10:

a –     A county employee may not engage in any political activity at work. This includes: wearing or displaying campaign material, distributing campaign literature, soliciting contributions for any candidate, engaging in political campaign activities for any candidate, or circulating nomination papers for any elective office. (M.C.G.O. § 9.06(1)). Therefore, the employee may not wear a button endorsing his relative’s candidacy at work. The employee may wear the button when he is not working.

County employees are prohibited from all political activity while working, regardless of what type of election is involved. (M.C.G.O. § 9.06(1)). This prohibition includes federal, state, county and municipal elections.

 

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Answer 11:

a – In general, a county employee cannot use his or her position for private benefit or accept anything of value that could reasonably be expected to influence the employee’s actions or judgment or be construed as a reward for past action (M.C.G.O. §§ 9.01 and 9.05). However, a county employee is allowed to attend a conference and accept travel and lodging expenses as long as the event is primarily related to the employee’s duties and the travel and lodging expenses are sanctioned by the event organizer and primarily benefit the county (not the employee). Before accepting any travel or lodging from anyone other than the county, an employee should seek approval of his or her department head and/or the Ethics Board.

 

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Answer 12:

c – Yes, the employee may keep the honorarium subject to certain conditions.

A county employee may receive and retain compensation for a speech only if the speech is accomplished without the use of the county’s time, resources or property, and is done outside the course of the employee’s official duties (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(3)). In addition, if the employee is required to file a Statement of Economic Interests, the honorarium must be reported unless it is returned within 30 days of receipt (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(2)(a) and (b)).

 

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Answer 13: 

b – The employee may accept the travel, food and lodging, since the county is the primary beneficiary. The employee may also accept the $500, but must pay the $500 to the county, because attendance at the conference is part of his employment (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(4)).

 

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Answer 14:

a – All political activity while working for the county is prohibited (M.C.G.O. § 9.06(1)). This includes dissemination of any campaign messages in any shape or form. The employee may only promote his relative’s campaign while he is not at work.

 

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Answer 15:

b – Even though employees can sometimes keep small promotional items that are not intended to influence or reward official action, the class was paid for by the county and provided as part of the employee’s training. The training manual therefore belongs to the county.

 

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Answer 16:

a –The t-shirt can be considered a promotional item and the employee can keep it. The t-shirts were widely distributed to all of the class attendees, and the t-shirt was not intended to influence or reward the employee’s official actions. If the employee does not feel comfortable keeping the t-shirt, she may return it.

 

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Answer 17:

b – County employees may not use any county resources for personal use. This includes using a county employee for personal reasons.

 

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 Answer 18:

a – There are no Ethics Code provisions that prevent a county employee from seeking outside employment – provided that the outside employment is done on the employee’s own time and not on county time. 

 

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 Answer 19:

c – County employees are prohibited from using their public position to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value for themselves or for organizations with which they are associated (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(a)). County employees are also prohibited from disclosing privileged information acquired through their employment which could result in financial gain for themselves or anyone else (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(d)). Both of these Ethics Code provisions would be implicated by the arrangement described in this question.

 

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