Last Revised: 27 February 2020

Refer Questions to: Director, Equal Opportunity Programs; Executive Director, Human Resources; Office of the Ombuds or Office of the Provost

Scope

This policy applies to all employees - faculty, teachers, staff, paraprofessionals, student workers, and administrators. This policy pertains to conduct occurring on campus or other University property; at University sanctioned events or programs that take place off University property; at other locations when the conduct stems from the workplace (e.g., during business travel); and via e-mail/online/social media (i.e., cyberbullying).  

Policy

Gallaudet University is committed to promoting and maintaining a healthy working, learning, and social environment, in which the rights and dignity of all University community members are respected. The University prohibits behaviors related to the workplace that rise to the level of bullying, as described below.

This policy does not apply to differences of opinion, interpersonal conflicts, and occasional problems in working relations, which are an inevitable part of working life and do not typically constitute workplace bullying. Individuals should seek to resolve such issues directly with each other or, where appropriate, through informal conflict resolution measures with the aid of his/her supervisor, the Ombuds Office, the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, and/or Human Resources.

Approved by: Gallaudet University Board of Trustees

Definitions

Workplace bullying is a pattern of repeated behavior that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to the University’s legitimate business interests, and involves words or actions that are intended to shame, embarrass, humiliate, degrade, demean, intimidate, and/or threaten the targeted individual or group. Bullying behavior often involves an abuse or misuse of power.

  1. Examples of workplace Bullying

The following are some examples of conduct that if repetitive and depending on the circumstances, could support a finding of bullying in violation of this policy:

  • infliction of communicative abuse, such as derogatory remarks, insults, berating, demeaning, and epithets;
  • spreading false and malicious rumors, gossip, or innuendo about an individual;
  • name-calling;
  • mocking or intentionally humiliating an individual in front of others;
  • intentionally undermining or sabotaging an individual’s work performance; and/or
  • intentionally and without a legitimate purpose (e.g., to maintain confidentiality) isolating or excluding an individual from work related activities, benefits, communications, locations and/or events.
  1. Examples of workplace supervision

It is important to distinguish between bullying behavior and appropriate workplace supervision. Reasonable supervisory actions, when carried out in an appropriate manner, include:

  • providing performance appraisals;
  • coaching or providing constructive feedback;
  • monitoring or restricting access to sensitive information for legitimate business reasons;
  • scheduling ongoing meetings to address performance issues;
  • setting aggressive performance goals to help meet departmental goals;
  • counseling or disciplining an employee for poor performance or misconduct; and
  • investigating alleged misconduct.

Employees are expected to meet the reasonable performance and behavior standards of their position, and requiring a person to meet those expectations is not bullying under this policy. Supervisors, managers, and chairs are expected to receive training to provide adequate support for staff and faculty.

Other Prohibitions under this Policy

  1. Retaliation

The University will not tolerate, and this policy expressly prohibits, retaliation, including but not limited to threats, intimidation, reprisals, harassment, incivility and adverse actions related to employment against any individuals who make good faith complaints (even where the concerns are ultimately unsubstantiated), who assist someone with a complaint of bullying, or who participate in an investigation or resolution of a bullying complaint.

  1. False Reporting

Intentionally false reports of bullying constitute a violation of this policy and may result in disciplinary action in accordance with applicable University policy. Also, the repeated use of this policy to make unfounded complaints of workplace bullying may likewise warrant disciplinary action.

Procedures

Procedures for Addressing Complaints under this Policy

Individuals who believe they are subject to workplace bullying are encouraged to first attempt to address the conduct directly with the other individual or their supervisor. In cases where an individual is uncomfortable with doing so or such an attempt was unsuccessful, a University employee (1) is encouraged to contact the Ombuds Office, the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs and/or Human Resources to obtain clarification of the bullying policy and procedures, to discuss their concerns, and to pursue an informal resolution process; and/or (2) may submit a complaint in writing to the Executive Director of Human Resources, or the Executive Director’s designee. If a written complaint is filed with the Executive Director of Human Resources (or the Executive Director’s designee), the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Executive Director’s designee will acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (unless made anonymously) within 5 business days of receiving the written complaint. Supervisors who receive complaints of bullying should refer the matter to Human Resources. A witness of bullying can report the incident, even if the victim does not. The University will respond to complaints of bullying brought anonymously, but the response to such complaints may be limited if the complaint’s allegations cannot be verified by independent facts. Anonymous complaints may be made online: https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/21988/index.html.

If an employee has a concern pertaining to conduct of a non-employee (such as a vendor, contractor, visitor, volunteer or other person with an association to the University) that allegedly violates this policy, he or she may contact the Ombuds Office or may report it to Human Resources, which may adjust the process for addressing the complaint to take into account the non-employee status of the subject of the complaint. Non-employees may not file complaints under this policy; however, they may express concerns about bullying to the Ombuds Office or Human Resources, which will determine how to address the matter appropriately under the circumstances.

In general, University employees are responsible for documenting the conduct they believe constitute workplace bullying. Copies of texts, emails, pictures, videos, and social media postings are considered strong supporting documentation.

Before commencing efforts to investigate or resolve the complaint, Human Resources will make an assessment of the information received, that if true would constitute a colorable violation of this policy and are not, for example, a complaint about more routine differences of opinion or interpersonal conflict that can be expected to arise in the workplace. If the complaint involves allegations of unlawful discrimination or harassment, Human Resources shall refer the matter, in whole or in part, to the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs. Ordinarily, the complainant will be informed within 30 days of submission whether or not the complaint will be investigated pursuant to this policy.

Note: Whether a complaint made against a student-employee is processed under this policy depends on whether the conduct at issue arises out of their employment status or student status.

Options for Resolution

  1. Ombuds Office

The complainant is encouraged to contact the Ombuds Office at an early stage to obtain clarification of the bullying policy and procedures, to discuss their concerns, and to pursue an informal resolution process. The informal resolution process focuses on identifying options to address the concerns, including providing feedback through shuttle diplomacy, doing role-play to develop strategies and tools in managing workplace issues, facilitating informal mediation with both parties’ agreement, and working with formal units such as Human Resources, Provost’s Office, and Equal Opportunity Programs to address the concerns at an early stage. See below for more information about contacting the Ombuds Office.

  1. Facilitated Early Resolution

The complainant may request or Human Resources (or its designee) may independently determine that facilitated early resolution is the appropriate first step to addressing a complaint of workplace bullying. In some cases, however, Human Resources (or its designee) may determine that early resolution is inappropriate, which may result in an investigation.

The goal of early resolution is to resolve concerns at the earliest stage possible with the cooperation of all of the parties involved. Early resolution may include a review of the facts, but typically does not include a formal investigation. Means for early resolution will be flexible and encompass a full range of possible appropriate outcomes. Options for early resolution may include:

  • obtaining an agreement between the parties;
  • physically separating the parties;
  • changing reporting lines;
  • referring the parties to counseling and coaching programs;
  • negotiating an agreement for personnel action;
  • conducting targeted educational and training programs; and/or
  • following up with the parties after a period of time to assure that the resolution has been implemented effectively.
  1. Formal Investigation

Where early resolution is unsuccessful or not used, the Ombuds, the Provost’s Office or EOP shall notify Human Resources and Human Resources (or its designee) shall notify the Office of General Counsel (“OGC”) of the complaint. Human Resources, in consultation with the OGC, will determine whether an investigation is warranted, and if so, will commence an investigation. OGC will provide legal advice to the University regarding the nature of any investigation and other matters related to the complaint.

Disclosure of facts to parties and witnesses will be limited to what is reasonably necessary to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. Investigation participants will be asked to keep the investigation details confidential.

At any time during the investigation, Gallaudet may implement interim measures as warranted. These measures may include separating the parties, placing individuals on administrative leave, placing limitations on contact between the individuals involved, or making alternative work arrangements. Failure to comply with the terms of interim measures that are implemented may be result in disciplinary action.

Gallaudet will make every effort to complete the investigation as quickly as possible. Generally, the investigation is completed within 90 calendar days from the date on which Human Resources, in consultation with the OGC, instructs the commencement of an investigation. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the appropriate disciplinary action will be determined in accordance with applicable policies and procedures (including, for tenured and non-tenured faculty, those contained in the Faculty Handbook). The complainant and the subject of the investigation will be informed when the investigation is completed. Individuals involved will be informed of the outcome, as appropriate.

COMPLIANCE WITH THIS POLICY

Compliance with this policy is mandatory. For assistance with interpreting or applying its provisions, contact the Ombuds Office, Human Resources, Equal Opportunity Programs, or the Provost's Office.

Any person covered by this policy who is determined to have violated this policy, including the anti-retaliation or interim measures provisions, is subject to disciplinary sanctions up to and including suspension, termination, or dismissal from the University, in accordance with applicable policies and procedures (including, for tenured and non-tenured faculty, those contained in the Faculty Handbook). Bullying, when substantiated, should be documented and taken into consideration as an important factor in evaluating an employee’s performance, subject to established evaluation procedures.

Student employees who are in violation of this policy are also subject to the procedures detailed in the Gallaudet University Code of Conduct applicable to students.

This policy is not intended as a replacement for the University’s policies on Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation, Workplace Violence, the Gallaudet University Student Conduct of Code, the Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or existing Administration and Operations policies.

OTHER CAMPUS RESOURCES

Ombuds Office

The Ombuds Office provides informal, impartial conflict resolution and problem-solving services regarding academic or work-related concerns. The Ombuds Office is a strictly confidential resource. Unless there is an imminent risk of serious harm, the Office will not disclose the identity of individuals who have used its services or information provided without express permission. In addition, this is not an office of record nor a place for filing complaints. Communications with the Ombuds Office do not place the University on notice, and individuals seeking to file complaints will be informed of appropriate University resources. In the interest of maintaining confidentiality, the Ombuds Office requests that anyone seeking assistance contact the office at: 202-559-5079 or by e-mail: ombuds@gallaudet.edu to make an appointment.

Equal Opportunity Programs

The Equal Opportunity Programs Office works with University Administration, departments, and committees to ensure that University policies and programs comply with applicable nondiscrimination requirements. For more information, this office can be contacted by e-mail: eop@gallaudet.edu or at: 202-559-5683.