Code of Business Conduct and Ethics
Last amended April 29, 2015
It is the policy of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, “Barnes & Noble” or the “Company") to conduct its business with the highest level of integrity and ethical standards and to follow the law. Following the law both in letter and in spirit is the foundation of Barnes & Noble’s ethical standards. In carrying out this policy, Barnes & Noble has adopted the following Code of Business Conduct & Ethics (the “Code”).
The Code applies to all directors, officers and employees of Barnes & Noble. It covers a wide range of business practices and procedures. It does not cover every ethics and compliance issue that may arise, but it sets out basic principles to guide you. Additional policies and procedures that supplement the policies in the Code are in the Employee Handbook and in the Reference Center on Barnes & Noble Inside.
In doing your work for Barnes & Noble, you must follow the highest ethical standards and make every effort to avoid even the appearance of improper behavior. In addition, you are responsible for:
If you have questions about the Code, you should ask your supervisor unless a specific section of the Code tells you to contact someone else. Alternatively, you can contact one of the resources listed under Section 15 (“Approaching Ethics and Compliance Issues”) below. To report ethics and compliance issues, you should also follow the guidelines in Section 15. If you are an executive officer or director, you should see Section 15 for information about how to raise questions and report ethics and compliance issues.
Violations of the Code will be addressed promptly. Individuals who violate the standards in the Code will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, which may include termination of employment.
1. Compliance with Laws,
Rules and Regulations
Barnes & Noble complies with applicable laws, rules and regulations in conducting its business and expects you to do the same. You do not have to know the details of all the laws, rules and regulations that apply to Barnes & Noble’s business, but you should be familiar with specific legal requirements that apply to your areas of responsibility. If you have questions about particular legal requirements, or what the law permits, you should contact Barnes & Noble’s Legal Department.
2. Conflicts of Interest
You are expected to act in the best interests of Barnes & Noble and to avoid activities and situations that would interfere in any way with the interests of Barnes & Noble or your responsibilities to Barnes & Noble. If an activity or situation could make it hard for you to do your work for Barnes & Noble objectively or effectively, it may create a conflict of interest. In thinking about whether something creates a conflict, you should remember that:
The Code cannot list every possible conflict of interest, but some common examples of situations that could create a conflict are:
Barnes & Noble recognizes that actual or potential conflicts of interest may arise from time to time. You must disclose any actual or potential conflicts of interest to us. Many conflicts can be avoided or appropriately managed if they are disclosed and approved. Sometimes, steps can be taken to manage the conflict, such as seeing that you do not participate in making decisions on Barnes & Noble’s behalf about a matter where you have a conflict. Remember, having a conflict of interest is not necessarily a violation of the Code, but failing to disclose it is.
The first step in addressing an actual or potential conflict is to inform your supervisor of the situation. Conflicts of interest may not always be clear-cut, so you should also contact Human Resources if you have questions about whether something creates a conflict. If you are an executive officer or director, you should contact Barnes & Noble’s General Counsel.
3. Charitable, Government
and Other Outside Activities
Barnes & Noble encourages you to participate in projects and causes that help your local community. Your private life is very much your own, and in most cases, activities like volunteering for a charity or serving in local government are unlikely to affect what you do for Barnes & Noble. At the same time, you should be sensitive to the possibility that participating in charitable, government or other outside activities could interfere with your obligations to Barnes & Noble or create a conflict of interest. You should avoid the activity if this would or could happen. When you get involved in outside activities, you should remember that you are participating on your own behalf and are not representing Barnes & Noble.
In addition, if you are an executive officer or director, before accepting a board seat at another for-profit organization, you should obtain approval from the Audit Committee.
4. Insider Trading
In the course of your work for Barnes & Noble, you may learn information about Barnes & Noble or other companies that has not been made public. Using non-public, or “inside,” information for your own or others’ financial benefit is unethical and may also violate the law. U.S. laws prohibit a person who has “material” inside information about a company from trading the company’s stock (or other securities of the company, such as options, puts or calls) and from disclosing this information to other people who may trade. Violation of these laws may result in civil and criminal penalties, including fines and prison sentences.
Material inside information includes information that is not available to the general public and that could influence a reasonable investor to buy, sell or hold stock or other securities. It is not possible to identify all the information that could be viewed as material, but some examples include non-public information about: (a) Barnes & Noble’s financial performance, including earnings and dividend decisions; (b) significant acquisitions, divestitures or other business transactions; (c) announcements about major new products or services; (d) major new contracts; (e) changes in senior management or Board members; and (f) other significant activities affecting Barnes & Noble.
Some guidelines that can help you avoid improper trading based on inside information are:
You should read and ensure you fully understand Barnes & Noble’s Insider Trading policy. If you are uncertain about whether you can buy or sell Barnes & Noble stock or the securities of another company that you learn about through your work at Barnes & Noble, you should contact Barnes & Noble’s Legal Department before buying or selling.
5. Business Opportunities
As a director, officer or employee of Barnes & Noble, you owe a duty to the company to advance its interests when the opportunity to do so arises. You may not use company property or information, or your position with Barnes & Noble, for improper personal gain or gain for an immediate family member or close personal relation.
In addition, unless you obtain prior approval, you may not participate in a business opportunity that you reasonably expect may be of interest to Barnes & Noble, or a business opportunity that you learn about through your work at Barnes & Noble if it relates to the company’s current or potential business. To obtain approval, you should contact your supervisor. If you are an executive officer or director, you should contact Barnes & Noble’s General Counsel.
6. Competition and Fair
Barnes & Noble seeks to outperform its competition fairly and honestly, and to obtain competitive advantages through superior performance, never through unethical or illegal business practices. Stealing proprietary information, obtaining trade secret information without the owner’s consent, or inducing disclosures by past or present employees of other companies is prohibited. You should make every effort to respect the rights of Barnes & Noble’s customers, suppliers, competitors and employees and to deal fairly with them. You should not take unfair advantage of anyone through manipulation, concealment, abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts, or any other practice involving unfair dealing.
All directors, officers and employees are required to comply with antitrust and related competition laws in jurisdictions in which we do business. You should not engage a Barnes & Noble competitor in discussions, agreements or understandings about prices or allocations of territory, customers or sales, or share information about company prices, discounts or customers with a competitor. In addition, you should avoid discussing with a competitor any other agreements that inhibit free and open competition or involve tie-in sales or reciprocal transactions without prior authorization from Barnes & Noble’s senior management. If you believe you are dealing with a potential antitrust or competition issue, you should contact Barnes & Noble’s Legal Department.
7. Gifts and
The purpose of business entertainment and gifts in a commercial setting is to create good will and sound working relationships, not to gain unfair advantage. Actions that you take on behalf of Barnes & Noble should be free from any suggestion that you are giving favorable treatment to individuals or organizations that do business with, or are seeking to do business with Barnes & Noble, or that you received favorable treatment from them.
Gifts offered by employees of different companies vary widely. They can range from advertising novelties and product samples of nominal value, which you may give or accept, to bribes, which you may not give or accept under any circumstances. Gifts include cash, other material goods, services, and anything else of value, including promotional premiums and discounts.
You may not offer or give gifts to an individual or organization that Barnes & Noble does business with, or is seeking to do business with, if the gift could influence, or reasonably give the appearance of influencing, a decision or action. However, you may give gifts of nominal value, such as an advertising novelty or a product sample. You also may give common courtesies, such as meals and entertainment, that are consistent with customary business practices and are not excessive in value.
You and your immediate family members and close personal relations may not solicit or accept gifts from an individual or organization that does business with, or is seeking to do business with Barnes & Noble, if the gift could influence, or reasonably give the appearance of influencing, a decision or action. However, provided it does not influence or reasonably give the appearance of influencing a purchasing decision, you and your immediate family members and close personal relations may accept gifts of nominal value, such as an advertising novelty or a product sample. Additionally, provided it does not influence or reasonably give the appearance of influencing a purchasing decision, you and your immediate family members and close personal relations also may accept common courtesies, such as meals and entertainment, that are consistent with customary business practices and are infrequent and not excessive in value. The Company may consider a variety of factors in determining what is excessive including but not limited to the value of what is received, the personal benefit to the recipient, the relationship between the provider, the recipient and the Company, the recipient’s position in the Company, the nature of what is provided, and the underlying facts and circumstances. Different rules may apply in the context of dealing with governments and government personnel. Generally speaking, no gifts, regardless of value, should be provided to any government official by the Company or employees on behalf of or to obtain a benefit for the Company, such as for example in the context of any current, previous, or potential procurement or investigation, without the express advance authorization of the Legal Department. See Section 13 below for more information.
Before any gift is exchanged, you should determine if it is permitted under the Code and the Company’s policies. Any questions with regard to gifts and entertainment should be directed to the Barnes & Noble Legal Department.
8. Equal Employment and
You have a fundamental responsibility to show respect and consideration to your teammates. The diversity of Barnes & Noble’s employees is a tremendous asset. Barnes & Noble is firmly committed to providing equal opportunity in all aspects of employment and does not tolerate any illegal discrimination or harassment of any kind. All employment practices and decisions, including those involving application procedures, recruiting, hiring, placement, job assignment, transfer, promotion, training, compensation, benefits, discipline, leave of absence, layoff, recall and termination, must be conducted without regard to age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, citizenship status, military or veteran status, religion, creed, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, genetic information, gender identity and expression, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws and not related to the job, and must comply with all applicable laws.
In addition, Barnes & Noble prohibits harassing, retaliatory or discriminatory conduct in the workplace, whether based upon age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, citizenship status, military or veteran status, religion, creed, citizenship status, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, genetic information, gender identity and expression, or any other unlawful basis. This includes sexual harassment, regardless of whether it is committed by supervisory or non-supervisory personnel or any other third party.
9. Health and Safety and
Barnes & Noble strives to provide each of its employees with a safe and healthful work environment. You are responsible for maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for yourself and other employees by following safety and health rules and practices and by reporting accidents, injuries and unsafe equipment, practices or conditions and must comply with all environmental rules and regulations.
Violence and threatening behavior are not permitted. All potentially dangerous situations, including threats by co-workers, should be reported immediately to any member of management with whom you feel comfortable.
The Company prohibits employees from being under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prescription drugs that may impair their ability to perform their job up to standards or hinder the safety of employees and customers. Consumption of alcoholic beverages on Barnes & Noble premises is only permitted, with prior management approval, for company-sponsored events.
Record-Keeping and Public Communications
Barnes & Noble requires honest and accurate recording and reporting of information in order to make responsible business decisions. For example, you should report only the actual number of hours that you worked. In addition, for those employees that use business expense accounts, business expenses must be documented and recorded accurately. If you are not sure whether a certain expense is legitimate, ask your supervisor. You may also obtain rules and guidelines from Barnes & Noble’s Accounting Department. You are also prohibited from knowingly misrepresenting, omitting or causing others to misrepresent or omit, material facts about Barnes & Noble to others in any public disclosures, within or without Barnes & Noble, including Barnes & Noble’s independent auditors.
All of Barnes & Noble’s books, records, accounts and financial statements must be maintained in reasonable detail, must appropriately reflect Barnes & Noble’s transactions and must conform both to applicable legal requirements and to Barnes & Noble’s system of internal controls. All Barnes & Noble business data, records and reports must be prepared truthfully and accurately. Reports and other documents that Barnes & Noble files with or submits to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other public communications, should contain full, fair, accurate, timely and understandable disclosure. You should retain records in accordance with Barnes & Noble’s record retention policies.
Business records and communications often become public. You should avoid exaggeration, derogatory remarks, guesswork, or inappropriate characterizations of people and companies in communications you send in the course of your duties, since these can be misunderstood. This applies equally to business correspondence, email, internal memos, and formal reports.
If you notice an inaccuracy in a company record, or a failure to follow our internal control processes, you should report such inaccuracy or failure through the channels described in Section 15.
You must protect confidential information and be careful not to disclose it except when disclosure is required or permitted by law. You should avoid disclosing confidential information to other Barnes & Noble employees who do not have a business need to know the information.
Confidential information includes all information about Barnes & Noble and its business that has not been made public. It also includes non-public information about suppliers and customers, as well as other non-public information that comes to you in the course of performing your duties for Barnes & Noble. The obligation to maintain the confidentiality of this information continues even after your work at Barnes & Noble ends.
For clarity, neither the Code nor any provision hereof, including but not limited to this Section 11, prohibits you from (i) filing and maintaining the confidentiality of a claim with a government agency that is responsible for enforcing a law, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, (ii) providing confidential information to such a government agency where required or permitted by law, or (iii) cooperating, participating or assisting in any government or regulatory entity investigation or proceeding.
Protection and Proper Use of Barnes & Noble Assets
You should make every effort to protect Barnes & Noble’s assets and use them efficiently. Theft, carelessness, and waste have a direct impact on Barnes & Noble’s profitability. You should use Barnes & Noble’s assets for legitimate business purposes, although incidental non-business use of equipment such as email and telephone systems is permitted in accordance with the Electronic Communication Standards and the Solicitation and Distribution policies.
The obligation to protect Barnes & Noble’s assets includes its confidential information. This includes intellectual property such as trade secrets, patents, trademarks, and copyrights, as well as business, marketing and service plans, engineering and manufacturing ideas, designs, databases, records, customer or employee information provided to you solely in the course of performing your duties and any unpublished financial data and reports. Unless required or permitted by law, unauthorized use or distribution of this information violates Barnes & Noble policy and the Code. It may also be illegal and result in civil or criminal penalties.
Political Contributions and Payments to Government Personnel
You are free to participate in personal political activities, unrelated to Barnes & Noble, on your own time and at your own expense. If you intend to run for election or seek appointment to a government-related position, or otherwise participate in government activities, you should remember the guidelines on conflicts of interest and outside activities in Sections 2 and 3 of the Code.
Federal law and many state and local laws prohibit corporate contributions to political parties or candidates. You should keep in mind that using your work time or Barnes & Noble assets for political activities is tantamount to a political contribution. For this reason, Barnes & Noble’s assets, facilities and resources may not be used for political purposes at any time, except as may be expressly authorized by the Legal Department, and you should avoid even the appearance of doing so. Because of the significant potential legal ramifications, government relations and lobbying activities by Barnes & Noble are conducted under the direction of the Legal Department.
In addition, acceptable practices in the commercial business environment, such as providing meals or entertainment, may be entirely unacceptable if you are dealing with government employees or other people acting on the government’s behalf, and may even violate the law. If you are working with government personnel, you need to be aware of the laws and regulations in this area and follow them.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. law, makes it a crime to give or offer to give anything of value (including payments of money), directly or indirectly, to officials of foreign governments (which can include executives and employees of foreign companies in which governments have an ownership interest), foreign political candidates or parties, or any other person in order to obtain or retain business or for the purpose of obtaining special treatment, even if the payment is requested. It is strictly prohibited to make illegal payments to government officials of any country.
In addition, the U.S. government has a number of laws and regulations about business gratuities that U.S. government personnel may not accept. Promising, offering or delivering a gift, favor or other gratuity to an official or employee of the U.S. government in violation of these rules not only violates the Code but could be a criminal offense. Many state and local governments, as well as foreign governments, have similar rules.
You should contact Barnes & Noble’s Legal Department if you have any questions in this area.
Raising Questions and Reporting Potential Ethics and Compliance Issues
If you encounter an ethics or compliance issue and you are not sure about the best course of action, you should ask for help. In addition, you have a duty to report any ethics or compliance issues promptly, including possible violations of the Code, the law or other Barnes & Noble policies, and to assist Barnes & Noble in preventing and addressing ethics and compliance issues. You are also expected to cooperate fully with Barnes & Noble or governmental authorities in any investigation of alleged ethics or compliance issues and, as described in Sections 11 and 12 of the Code, may disclose confidential information to governmental authorities if disclosure is required or permitted by law.
Approaching Ethics and Compliance Issues
You are expected to promote compliance with the Code. However, in some situations it is difficult to know right from wrong. Since it is not possible to anticipate every situation that will arise, it is important to think about ways to approach ethics and compliance issues. These are the steps to keep in mind:
You should contact Barnes & Noble’s General Counsel for a request for a waiver of any provision of this Code. Any waiver of a provision of this Code for executive officers or directors may be made only by the Board of Directors or a committee of the Board of Directors and will be promptly disclosed as required by applicable laws or regulations.
This Code may be changed or amended from time to time at the discretion of Barnes & Noble. Where any applicable law imposes requirements in conflict with or in addition to the provisions of this Code or its enforcement, such law will govern for applicable employees and the Code will be enforced in a manner consistent with such laws. You will be asked periodically to certify that you have read and understand the Code and your obligations. This Code is not a contract of employment and does not alter the at-will status of an employee. The employment of all at-will employees may be terminated at any time, with or without cause, so long as such action does not violate applicable law.