ISSUE: Can City Employees Accept Gifts from Residents as Thank-You’s?

FICTION: State law and the City’s code of ethics prohibit employees from accepting gifts as part of their duties.
thank you note​​​A resident recently submitted a question, asking if trash teams are allowed to accept tips or gifts. While it is a kind suggestion, there are laws against it. They are in place to ensure that public officials perform their duties without outside influence that could call their impartiality into question or give the appearance of using a public position for private gain. 

The State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act​ has specific guidelines public employees are expected to follow, and receiving gifts covers a significant portion of the Act. Further, the City’s Code of Ethics​ echoes the law, reinforcing the position that employees are held to a high standard of conduct to avoid any appearance or opportunity for behavior that would call their judgment into question.

For example, imagine if a developer gives an employee in the City’s Planning Department a gift and the next day, the employee approves a building permit for the same developer. This would call into question the employee’s judgment and raises the issue of using their position for personal gain. 

If someone believes a City employee has improperly accepted a gift, or has acted in a dishonest or fraudulent manner, they should contact the City’s Fraud, Waste & Abuse hotline at 385-5870 and file a report. For more information, please visit the City Auditor’s website.

If a resident would like to recognize an employee’s service in some way, a thank-you note to the employee’s supervisor is always welcomed and appreciated in lieu of any gifts. If you’re not sure where to send a note, give one of our Citizen Services representatives a call at 311 and they can assist you with getting it to the correct person. 
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