Proceeding in this Court
W. Rawson, Nate N. Nelson, and Jeremy G. Jones, Attorneys for
D. Reyes, J. Clifford Petersen, and Daniel R. Widdison,
Attorneys for Respondent
Kate A. Toomey authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory
K. Orme and J. Frederic Voros Jr. concurred. 
This case requires us to determine whether a Utah Department
of Corrections (UDC) employee, whose conduct may well have
violated best practices, can be fired for that conduct if it
is not explicitly prohibited by policy. The Career Service
Review Office (CSRO) upheld UDC's decision to fire
Antionette Aiono for violating a policy governing prohibited
associations. Because the policy does not prohibit what Aiono
did, we set aside the CSRO's decision.
Aiono was a UDC correctional officer assigned to the Orange
Street Community Correction Center. In May 2015 she worked an
overtime shift at the prison in Draper in section 3/4 of the
Oquirrh facility. The Oquirrh facility has two sections,
designated as Oquirrh 1/2 and 3/4.
Three of Aiono's relatives were in prison at the time-her
husband M.A. (Husband), her cousin P.W., and her cousin W.W.
(Cousin). Husband and P.W. were incarcerated in Oquirrh 1/2,
and Cousin was in 3/4. Aiono knew where Husband and P.W. were
housed but did not know that Cousin was in the 3/4 section
until the day she reported for her overtime shift.
When she arrived at Oquirrh 3/4, Aiono talked with the day
shift sergeant (Sergeant), who recognized her last name and
asked "if she was ok to work there." He asked
whether Husband was in 1/2. Aiono acknowledged that he was
and that she could not go there, but told him she could work
in 3/4. Sergeant was aware of Aiono's relationship with
Cousin and knew that Cousin was housed in Oquirrh 3/4.
Sergeant was neither Aiono's supervisor nor her shift
commander, and he had no authority to grant her permission to
have contact with her relatives.
During her shift, Aiono spoke with Cousin.
Aiono had previously filled out a form disclosing her
relationship with Husband. After speaking with Cousin, she
filled out another form disclosing her relationships with
P.W. and Cousin. She filled out the form three weeks after
her encounter with Cousin, but before a Law Enforcement
Bureau investigation of the incident was completed, and about
a month before UDC gave her notice of its intent to terminate
The notice informed Aiono that her actions violated
Department of Human Resource Management Rule 477-9-1 and UDC
Policy AE 02/14.00, Prohibited Association/Conduct. Following
a hearing in July 2015, UDC fired Aiono for her actions
during the overtime shift in May. UDC "concluded that
[Aiono] had failed to fill out the mandatory Relationship
Disclosure Form and failed to follow the chain of
command." It "further concluded that [Aiono] failed
to take action and accountability when she became aware of
the conflict of interest."
Aiono appealed her dismissal, and the CSRO conducted an
evidentiary hearing. It issued an order upholding UDC's