Bullying and Civility Standards in the Workplace


Office of Human Resources


Director for Human Resources


Human Resources



Effective Date:


Implementation History:

Feb. 1, 2019


Bullying, Civility

Background Information:


Empire State University (“university”) is committed to fostering an environment where each person’s individual dignity is valued. These efforts include providing a workplace that values the health, dignity, and well-being of all of its employees. This policy defines workplace bullying, establishes standards for the prevention of workplace bullying, and outlines procedures for responding to and reporting incidents of such bullying.


Workplace bullying is defined as aggressive and hostile acts of an individual or group of individuals that intentionally intimidates, degrades, humiliates or isolates people at work, and/or undermines their reputation or job performance.  It undermines the health, dignity, and well-being of employees. Bullying can lead to aggression and workplace violence. Such aggressive and hostile acts can occur as a single, severe incident or repeated incidents, and may manifest in many forms including, without limitation:

  • Incivility — rude or discourteous behavior toward an individual or group
  • Harassment — behavior directed toward an individual or group with the intent to annoy, alarm, manipulate, control or abuse
  • Intimidation — threats of imminent or future harm toward an individual group
  • Exclusion — socially or physically excluding or disregarding a person in work-related activities
  • Humiliation — belittling or demeaning others through ridicule or spiteful remarks
  • Mobbing — a form of bullying in which members of a group gang up to intimidate or harass an individual
  • Cyberbullying — otherwise bullying an individual or group using any electronic form, including, but not limited to, the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, or mobile phones

NOTE: It is not generally considered bullying when a supervisor is firm in instructing and directing an employee nor when a supervisor or any person with supervisory authority reports and/or documents an employee's unsatisfactory job performance and the potential consequences for such performance.


Empire State University will not tolerate bullying behavior, including any such conduct between employees.  All employees have a responsibility to behave in a respectful and civil manner (see civility standards section below), and the right to a workplace that is civil and free of bullying behaviors.

Any employee found in violation of this policy shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination of his/her employment, consistent with the terms and conditions of the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement, if any.

Retaliatory action against anyone who has, in good faith, reported bullying, or who has been involved in reporting, investigating, or responding to bullying, will not be tolerated and is also a violation of this policy.  Those found responsible for any retaliatory action will be subject to discipline up to and including termination consistent with the terms and conditions of any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement, if any.

Civility Standards

Expected and acceptable communications/behaviors include, without limitation:

  • Holding yourself and other accountable to the University's mission, vision, and core values.
  • Interacting with others in a considerate, patient and courteous manner.
  • Promoting equality and acceptance of people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Demonstrating a caring and positive attitude: greet and acknowledge others, make eye contact, say please and thank you; give recognition and praise.
  • Respecting confidentiality and privacy whenever possible.
  • Working together by promoting cooperation, participation and sharing of ideas, and information to promote team success.
  • Fostering open, honest communication and being honest and truthful at all times.
  • Actively listening to the perspective of others and seeking to resolve conflicts promptly.
  • Apologizing when mistakes are made and/or misunderstandings have occurred.
  • Using proper and appropriate channels to express dissatisfaction.
  • Promoting an environment that includes respect for differences that are valued and/or protected. These include: age, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, sex, disability, familial status, pregnancy, arrest record, conviction record, genetic disposition, gender identity, workers with care-giving responsibilities, military status (including Vietnam-era veterans, special disabled veterans and other eligible veterans), and any other legally-protected category.
  • Being knowledgeable of other related and applicable University and/or SUNY-wide policies and procedures including, without limitation, Affirmative Action, Service Standard Guidelines, Non-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy, and the SUNY Workplace Violence Policy.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

Complaint Process:


Employees who are victims or witnesses to bullying may file a report within 30 calendar days following the alleged bullying or the date on which the complainant first knew, or reasonably should have known, of such behavior.  Given the insidious nature of some forms of bullying, latitude will be provided in defining when a person should reasonably have known of the nature of the behavior.

Bullying should be reported to the victim’s immediate supervisor or to the Director of Office of Human Resources.  If the bullying behavior is from the immediate supervisor, it should be reported to the supervisor’s supervisor or directly to the Director of Office of Human Resources. Complaints or concerns that are reported to an administrator, manager or supervisor, concerning bullying, or bullying that administrators, managers, or supervisors observe or become aware of, shall be immediately referred to the Director of Human Resources. Complaints regarding the Office of Human Resources should be directed to the Executive Vice President for Administration.


It is the responsibility of the Director of Office of Human Resources to respond to all such inquiries, reports, and requests as promptly as possible, and in a manner appropriate to the particular circumstances.

The Director of Human Resources reviews the complaint, conducts an investigation, determines if there was a violation of the policy and recommends appropriate action, which may include counseling or discipline. The supervisor or HR provides a response to employees within 14 calendar days of the receipt of the complaint.

If the respondent to a complaint is a member of the Office of Human Resources, the executive vice president for administration oversees the process. The EVP reviews the complaint, conducts an investigation, determines if there was a violation of the policy and recommends appropriate action, which may include counseling or discipline. The supervisor or the Office of Administration provides a response to employees within 14 calendar days of the receipt of the complaint.


Violations of this policy are considered misconduct, and violators will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with University policy, the applicable collective bargaining agreements.


This policy shall be disseminated through the Faculty Handbook and in other employee materials, and through periodic training sessions to the campus community.

Other Remedies

Nothing contained herein shall preclude or limit any right, remedy or cause of action provided under any other University policy, or any local, state or federal ordinance, law or regulation, including, without limitation, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1964, and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.