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July 23, 1975



TO: All Department Heads
SUBJECT: Nepotism in State Hiring and Promotional Practices

  1. The purpose of this bulletin is to afford guidance under provisions of recently enacted legislation:

    5 M.R.S.A., 558. Hiring and promoting neutrality.

    "The final decision of whether a person will be hired or promoted by the State cannot be made in part or wholly by a person related to the job candidate by consanguinity, or affinity, within the 4th degree. The State Personnel Rules shall insure that this section will not deprive any applicant or employee of full consideration for hiring or promotion."

    The effective date of the new law is October 1, 1975.

  2. In order to identify those relationships which constitute the 4th degree of consanguinity or affinity, this office sought interpretation from the Attorney General's Office. So that you may be prepared to comply with the new law, a copy of the Attorney General's explanation, in toto, is attached.

  3. Responsibility for compliance will be with those persons having hiring and promotional responsibility in your agency; hence guidance in what this legislation means must be given to all so concerned.

  4. Specific questions may be addressed to Department of Personnel,
Attn: Chief, Robert W. Maxwell
Career Management Division
Phone: 289-2821

Director of Personnel

Attach: as cited

Attachment to Personnel Bulletin 8.7, dated July 23, 1975

The following is the complete reply from the office of the State Attorney General, dated July 13, 1975, in response to this department's inquiry regarding 5 M.R.S.A. 558.

"This will respond to your June 30, 1975, memo concerning the statute referred to above.

In Maine, for purposes of descent and distribution of dacedent's estates, degree of kindred is computed according to the rules of civil law. 18 M.R.S.A. 1002. We believe that the Legislature intended that degree of kindred, for the purposes of 5 M.R.S.A. 558, also be computed according to the rules of civil law. 67 C.J.S. Officers, 22 at 133.

Under the civil law system of computation, the degree of kindred is the total of (1) the number of the steps, counting one for each generation from the appointing or promoting State official up to the nearest common ancestor of such official and the applicant for employment or employee being considered for promotion, and (2) the number of steps from the common ancestor down to the applicant for employment or employee being considered for employment. 26A C.J.S. Descent and Distribution, 22 at 562.

For example, with reference to the chart below, X, a State official, ordinarily makes the final decisions as to which applicant will be hired and which employee will be promoted. Maternal Cousin is an applicant for employment and Great Uncle is eligible for a promotion. Pursuant to the nepotism restrictions of 5 M.R.S.A. 558, X must determine if he may lawfully, in part or wholly, make the decision to approve or deny Maternal Cousin's application for employment and Great Uncle's promotion. By applying the civil law rule for computation of degree of kindred, X first locates the ancester which he and Maternal Cousin have in common. As you will note that ancestor is Maternal Grandparent. X counts each step (generation) from himself to Maternal Grandparent (Step #1 Mother-Father; Step #2 Maternal Grandparent), and then each step from Maternal Grandparent, the common ancestor, down to Maternal Cousin (Step #1 Maternal Uncle and Step #2 Maternal Cousin). X then totals the number of steps (2 plus 2) and notes that he and Maternal Cousin are related in the 4th degree. Section 558 specifically forbids X from participating in an employment decision involving a relative within the fourth degree. If you will perform the same computation for X and Great Uncle, you will find that X and Great Uncle are also related in the final decision on Great Uncle's promotion."