Several officials in the US Justice Department have been cited for nepotism in hiring employees. The agency’s inspector general issued a report citing seven instances of nepotism in the department. The Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz says that the prevalent nepotism in the Justice Department has adversely affected the agency’s “principles of fair and open competition.”
Nepotism is basically favoritism based on kinship. In the workplace, it means hiring an individual because of familial relationship and not because of the merit of the person’s credentials or qualifications. Nepotism hiring is illegal in many states in the country mainly because it can affect employee morale, efficiency, as well as triggering conflict or tensions in the workplace.
According to Ron Prokosch, president of The Prokosch Group, HR consulting firm, employing relatives and giving them key positions in the company can lead to employee-employer conflict. If nepotism is rampant in an organization, many workers will feel undervalued and will grow resentful of the management as well as the new employee. Others will feel that career growth is impossible and will start looking for employment opportunities elsewhere.
Though there are certain advantages brought by hiring relatives, such as saving on training costs and reduced turnover rates, the number of disadvantages outweighs and overwhelms the perceived benefits.
While nepotism may be acceptable in family-owned businesses and organizations, the same cannot be said in government agencies. Gina Talamona, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said that the Justice Department leaders will not tolerate nepotism in their organization and swift actions will be made to address those who are engaged in nepotistic hiring.
The report made by the Inspector General revealed that there were two senior administrative officials of the Justice Department who made an attempt to hire each other’s child. In another episode, an assistant human resources director went on a constant drive to secure a position for her daughter at the Department’s facilities supervision unit. Another high-ranking employee, the director of the facilities staff, paved a position for his son. There are two other employees who hired relatives during their tenure but since they no longer work in the Justice Department, they no longer face sanctions.
Government officials are now banding together to strongly enforce anti-nepotism policies in all public offices after the release of the Inspector General’s report. Lee J. Lofthus, assistant attorney general for administration, promised that the government will make sure that every individual seeking employment in public agencies will be given a fair shake by making the necessary changes in hiring policies and promoting fairer hiring practices.
The hiring malpractices within the US Department of Justice and the individuals involved will be thoroughly investigated and sanctioned, said Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia. “I expect the employees involved in this nepotism ring to be punished under the full extent of the law.” He also mentioned that the degree of nepotism existing in the Justice Department is “highly alarming.”
“Nepotism has no place in any federal agency, and it is especially disturbing coming from the Department of Justice,” Wolf said.