What Is Abusive Conduct/Workplace Bullying?

A systemwide definition has been adopted for the University, consistent with the language of the State legislature’s Assembly Bill 2053, which requires training on the prevention of abusive conduct. Assembly Bill 2053 defines abusive conduct as:

Conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.

President Napolitano has issued guidance regarding the University’s expectations for maintaining a productive work environment, including respectful treatment for all members of the campus community. The guidance has examples of abusive conduct, as well as responsible supervisory actions. Please read: University of California Guidance including President Napolitano's letter to the Chancellors and the Abusive Conduct Working Group's Report

The University does not tolerate abusive conduct or bullying.

Abusive conduct and bullying behaviors are inconsistent with the values of the University and should be addressed directly and comprehensively. Regardless of circumstances or setting, staff at all levels found to be engaging in abusive conduct should be held accountable. No member of the University community will be retaliated against for reporting bullying in good faith. While UC has a number of current policies that could be used to address bullying, there is some confusion among employees about what bullying is and how to address it.

Who Bullies?

  1. Workplace bullying often involves an abuse or misuse of power. However, many bullying situations involve employees bullying their peers. In some cases, subordinates may bully “up.” An individual may bully one or more other employees. A group may also bully an individual.

How to Differentiate Bullying

  1. Workplace bullying differs from performance management, harassment/discrimination, and retaliation.
  1. Visit this link for specific examples of bullying behavior and how to differentiate bullying from other types of harassment.