University employees receive offers of gifts from various sources. RCW 42.52.140 and RCW 42.52.150 address the limitations on accepting such gifts and should be referenced to determine the allowability of accepting a gift.

RCW 42.52.140 stipulates that no state officer or state employee may receive, accept, take, seek, or solicit, directly or indirectly, anything of economic value as a gift, gratuity, or favor from a person if it could be reasonably expected that the gift, gratuity, or favor would influence the vote, action, or judgment of the officer or employee, or be considered as part of a reward for action or inaction.

Items that cannot be supposed to influence judgment may be accepted as long as the total value from a single source does not exceed $50 in a calendar year. A number of items are exempt from the definition of a gift, or are presumed not to influence judgment, and may be accepted without regard to value. A non-inclusive list of such items is as follows:

  • Items from family or friends with whom the employee has an unquestionable non-business relationship
  • Unsolicited flowers and plants
  • Unsolicited awards or tokens of appreciation, such as a plaque or desk item
  • Unsolicited promotional items of nominal value
  • Unsolicited items for evaluation or review (if the employee has no personal beneficial interest)
  • Publications related to official duties
  • Food and beverages at events where attendance is related to official duties
  • Gifts given to an agency or unit rather than an individual employee

Section 4 employees are subject to additional requirements under RCW 42.52.150(4) and include those employed by a regulatory agency or an agency that seeks to acquire goods and services, whose agency regulates or contracts with the person giving the gift, and who participate in the regulatory or contractual matters with that person.

For more information, please review Training Materials & Resources at the Washington State Executive Ethics Board (EEB) website, or contact the Office of Internal Audit at ia.central@wsu.edu.