Can I Be Ordered To Take Out The Trash?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about nepotism:

Our office manager in a small nonprofit contracted with her sister-in-law for janitorial/cleaning and her brother for snowplowing. This was done with approval by the office administrator. As secretary, the office manager now instructs me to haul out the kitchen, bathroom, and front office trash before the weekend “because it’s too heavy” for her sister-in-law. I did this today while it was icy and snowing and got my shoes and pants soaked from dragging out the garbage to the dumpster. The office administrator dismissed the whole thing when I have brought this up as an issue –she herself recently started an affair with the executive director. What is the rule of thumb regarding nepotism in a nonprofit?

Signed, Life in Nonprofit

Dear Life in Nonprofit:

Do you mean that now that you have knowledge with which you can “threatened” to expose an affair of the office administrator with the director and consequently you no longer can be ordered to take out the trash? If so, this may work for you for a while. Is there a rule of thumb about handing out contracts to relatives for nonprofits? Not a state or federal law as far as I know.

The rule of thumb rather is that for government contracts that bids should be taken and that discrimination should not determine who gets contracts. What are the policies of your organization? Favors for relatives usually are not looked on positively by boards of directors. Also in-house affairs usually are not viewed positively because favoritism can be charged if they go well and sexual harassment can be charged if they go sour.

You will have to determine if the working climate of your nonprofit is one in which you can work without power struggles with your office manager and others who work there. Is it possible for you to become a happy camper and one that is a cheerleader rather than a complainer? Can you speak up in your own behalf for what is fair in your job assignments without threatening to expose some misdeed of someone? If not you will be mumbling to yourself and to others about what goes on rather than working to carry out the mission of your organization. Right or wrong?Will you keep us posted on the soap opera in your workplace? Or on what you are doing to promote good working relationships? Your answer to these questions will tell if you understand the meaning of our signature WEGO.

William Gorden