CEO 85-81 -- November 26, 1985
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE WORKING FOR RESTAURANT INSPECTED BY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest exists where an environmental health specialist with a county health department is employed by a restaurant which is inspected by the health department but which is not located within the geographic area of the employee's responsibilities. CEO 85-16 is referenced.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where you, an environmental health specialist with a county health department, are employed by a restaurant which is inspected by the county health department but which is not located within the geographic area for which you are responsible?
Under the circumstances presented, your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you have been employed by the Volusia County Health Department since 1979. Presently you are classified as an Environmental Health Specialist B, in which position you are responsible for septic tank site evaluations and final inspections, consulting in matters concerning swimming pools, performing potable public and private well investigations, investigating animal bite and sanitary nuisance complaints, and inspecting food outlets and services within a specific geographic area of the County. You also advise that since 1980 you have worked part-time at various restaurants as a waitress, cashier, or hostess. You question whether you may continue this employment with a restaurant which is not located within the geographic area for which you are responsible.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . ; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. [Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes (1983).]
In previous opinion CEO 85-16 we advised that this provision would not prohibit an environmental health specialist from being employed by a children's home where his position was not responsible for inspecting or regulating child care centers or for supervising the position responsible for child care and group facility inspections. Similarly, here, you are not responsible for inspecting the restaurant at which you work, and it is clear that you are not responsible for supervising the environmental health specialist who inspects the restaurant.
As in CEO 85-16, we would remind you that the Code of Ethics prohibits a public employee from misusing his position to influence the actions or decisions of a fellow employee who is responsible for inspecting or regulating the employee's private employer. Accordingly, we find under the circumstances presented that no prohibited conflict of interest exists by virtue of your part-time employment with the restaurant while remaining as an employee of the County Health Department.