Does nepotism apply to a part-time volunteer?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does nepotism apply to a part-time volunteer?

I manage a small local government office 5 staff members. There is one position above me, but I make all decisions for the clerical staff. My mom has been volunteering at the office, 2 days a week for the last 5 years. She has nothing to gain as she retired 25 years ago and receives no pay and is not in need of a job. One of the clerical staff filed a grievance for being written up for excessive lateness. During her conversation with a union rep, out of pure vindictiveness she told them that my mom was working there. Following that, I was told my mom could no longer volunteer. Is there anything I can say to convince our labor people they’re wrong?

Asked on May 21, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is no inherent right to have a family member work or volunteer with you, so that if there is any civil service or union rules against nepotism, that can prevent your mother from volunteering--or if a higher-up or superior tells you that she cannot volunteer, that would be legal. The problem you face is that since there is no right for her to have the position, and as a volunteer, job-related protections against discrimination do not apply to her (e.g. the laws against age-based discrimination do not apply to volunteers), there is nothing you can do if those with authority tell you that she can't do this: they can make that decision, either based on their own discretion or based on their interpretation of civil service rules or a union agreement.

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