III-4: Civility in the Workplace: Harassment and Bullying Policy – Human Resources Policies – Virginia Western Community College (2023)

Policy Number: III-4
Last Reviewed:October 22, 2020
Responsible Dept.:Human Resources
Office to contact for clarifications: Human Resources

A signed copy of this policy is available in the President’s Office.

Purpose:

The college is committed to a workplace in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Expectations for appropriate behaviors extend to employees, contract workers, customers, clients, students, volunteers, and any other third parties in the workplace. Harassment (including sexual harassment) and bullying, in any form, are contrary to the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State Board of Community Colleges, and Virginia Western Community College.

This policy is pursuant to Department of Human Resource Management Policy 2.35, Civility in the Workplace, and Section 3 of the VCCS Policy Manual and will provide mechanisms for reporting and resolving complaints.

Definitions:

Bullying is defined as disrespectful, intimidating, aggressive and unwanted behavior toward a person that is intended to force the person to do what one wants, or to denigrate or marginalize the targeted person. The behavior may involve a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor and the targeted person. The behavior typically is severe or pervasive and persistent, creating a hostile work environment. Behaviors may be discriminatory if they are predicated on the targeted person’s protected class (e.g., using prejudicial stereotyping or references based on the targeted person’s characteristics or affiliation with a group, class, or category to which that person belongs, or targeting people because they are in a protected class).

Cyber-bullying is using technology to intentionally harm others through hostile behavior, threatening, disrespectful, demeaning, or intimidating messages. Bullying that occurs via the Internet, cell phones, or other devices (e-mails, IMs, text messages, blogs, pictures, videos, postings on social media, etc.). Pretending to be the victim of spreading rumors or visual images online in order to denigrate or marginalize the targeted person. Behaviors may be discriminatory if they are predicated on the targeted person’s protected class (e.g. using prejudicial stereotyping or references based on targeted person’s characteristics or affiliation with a group, class, or category to which that person belongs, or targeting people because they are in a protected class).

Discriminatory harassment is defined as any unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct that either degrades or shows hostility or aversion towards a person on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, military service and/or veteran status, caregiver status, national origin, genetic information, current/past/potential pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, political affiliation, age, hair, hair texture, hair type, protective hair styles (such as braids, locks and twists), child birth and related medical conditions, and persons with or perceived to have disability; or any other reason that: (1) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment; (2) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance; or (3) affects an employee’s employment opportunities or compensation.

Hostile work environmentis when persistent repeated conduct creates an intimidating or offensive place for the employee to work.

Non-discriminatory workplace harassmentis any targeted or directed unwelcome verbal, written, social, or physical conduct that is demeaning, intimidating, or insensitive behavior, or shows hostility or aversion towards a person not predicated on the person’s protected class.

Quid pro quois a form of sexual harassment by a manager/supervisor or a person of authority in which an employee’s receipt of a job benefit or the imposition of a tangible job detriment is conditioned on the employee’s acceptance or rejection of the harassment.

Retaliationis defined as overt or covert acts of reprisal, interference, restraint, penalty, discrimination, intimidation, or harassment against an individual or group exercising rights under this policy.

Sexual harassmentis defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct or written communications of an intimidating, hostile, or offensive sexual nature by a manager, supervisor, co-worker or non-employee (third party). Sexual harassment occurs when (1) submission to the aforementioned conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a condition of employment; (2) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonable interference with a person’s job performance by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment; or (3) submission to such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual.

Third partyis defined as an individual who is not a state employee, but who has business interactions with state employees. Such individuals include but are not limited to customers (including applicants for state employment or services), vendors, contractors, visitors, volunteers, or strangers.

Workplaceis any location, either permanent or temporary, where an employee performs any work-related duty or is representing the agency in this capacity. This includes, but is not limited to, the buildings and the surrounding perimeters, including parking lots, field locations, classrooms, alternate work locations, and college owned or leased vehicles used for travel to and from work assignments, or places that by policy have a sufficient relationship to the workplace or the college’s operations, services, or reputation. It also applies to written, verbal, or graphic communications delivered in person, via phone, message, computer, or social media.

Policy:

The Commonwealth and Virginia Western Community College strictly forbid harassment of any kind to any employee, applicant for employment, vendor, contractor or volunteer, on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, military service and/or veteran status, caregiver status, national origin, genetic information, current/past/potential pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, political affiliation, age, hair, hair texture, hair type, protective hair styles (such as braids, locks and twists), child birth and related medical conditions, and persons with or perceived to have disability; and, any behaviors that undermine team cohesion, staff morale, individual self-worth, productivity, and safety.

Any employee who engages in conduct determined to be harassment or bullying, or who encourages such conduct by others, shall be subject to corrective action under Policy 1.60, Standards of Conduct, or Section 3 of the VCCS Policy Manual, which may include disciplinary action up to an including discharge from employment.

VWCC encourages reporting of all perceived incidents of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, regardless of the offender’s identity or position. Employees and third parties should report incidents of workplace harassment as soon as possible after the incident occurs. Managers and/or supervisors who allow workplace harassment to continue or fail to take appropriate corrective action upon becoming aware of the harassment may be considered a party to the offense, even though they may not have engaged in such behavior, and will be subject to disciplinary action under Policy 1.60, Standards of Conduct, or Section 3 of the VCCS Policy Manual, up to and including demotion or discharge.

The Commonwealth and VWCC will not tolerate any form of retaliation directed against an employee or third party who either complains about harassment or who participates in any investigation concerning harassment.

In addition, VWCC encourages individuals who believe they are being subjected to such conduct to promptly advise the offender that his or her behavior is unwelcome and request that it be discontinued. Communicating directly with the offender that the behavior is unwelcome, offensive, hostile, and/or intimidating is important to stopping the behavior and to resolving problems. Often this action alone will resolve the problem. VWCC recognizes, however, that an individual may prefer to pursue the matter through informal or formal complaint procedures. Under no circumstances shall the individual alleging harassment be required to file a complaint with the alleged harasser.

Employees and third parties who make complaints of harassment or bullying, or provide information related to such complaints, will be protected against retaliation. If retaliation occurs, the employee(s) should report the retaliation through the internal complaint procedure.

Internal Complaint Procedure

Employees and applicants for employment seeking to remedy workplace harassment or bullying may file a complaint with the Associate Vice President of Human Resources, the college president, the vice presidents, their supervisor(s), or any individual(s) designated by the agency to receive such reports.

State Complaint Procedure

The employee or applicant may follow the Commonwealth Employees’ Discrimination Complaint Procedure, which is administered by the Office of Equal Employment Services within the Department of Human Resource Management. The Office of Equal Employment Services administers a comprehensive program to ensure equal employment opportunity to applicants for state employment and state employees concerning all privileges and conditions of employment. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is responsible for enforcing the Governor’s Executive Order concerning equal employment opportunity in state government.

If an employee wishes to file a complaint, he/she can obtain and complete the Discrimination Complaint Form and mail it to DEI. The complaint form may be obtained from the DHRM website or by contacting the Human Resource Office.

Grievance Procedure

Eligible employees may use the State Employee Grievance Procedure, which is administered by the Department of Employment Dispute Resolution, as a means to address harassment. The Grievance Procedure is one method an employee can use to bring concerns to upper levels of management. This process requires strict adherence to rules and regulations set forth in The Grievance Procedure Handbook.

Federal Complaint Process

Employees and applicants for Commonwealth employment may file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Charges may be filed in person, by mail or by telephone by contacting the nearest EEOC office. There are strict time frames in which charges of employment discrimination, such as harassment, must be filed. For more detailed information, consult The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission web site (http://www.eeoc.gov) or contact the Richmond Area EEOC Office at (804)-278-4651.

Other Complaint Process

Those wishing to file a complaint may also contact the Advice Line, administered by DHRM, to discuss concerns and be advised of options and procedures.

Examples of prohibited conduct/behavior include but are not limited to:

  • Demonstrating behavior that is rude, inappropriate, discourteous, unprofessional, unethical, or dishonest;
  • Behaving in a manner that displays a lack of regard for others and significantly distresses, disturbs, and/or offends others;
  • Making disparaging remarks, spreading rumors, or making innuendos about others in the workplace;
  • Raising one’s voice inappropriately or shouting at another person;
  • Swearing or using obscene language or gestures toward another person;
  • Humiliating others; making public statements with the intent of embarrassing a targeted person; questioning one’s reputation through gossip;
  • Making unwelcome or suggestive comments or jokes;
  • Making culturally insensitive remarks, displaying culturally insensitive objects, images or messages;
  • Posting or discussing sensitive, private information about someone to others.

Training

New employees shall complete official training for Civility in the Workplace on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Learning Center (COVLC) within 60 days of hire.

In accordance with DHRM policy, agencies must ensure that contract workers for the college or other third parties are made aware of the college’s Civility in the Workplace policies and are provided with an opportunity to review the COVLC related training.

The Code of Virginia § 2.2-4201 requires contractors who spend significant time working with or working near state employees to complete sexual harassment training developed by DHRM. Virginia Western procurement officers will ensure that completion of the Preventing Sexual Harassment training is part of the contract obligation.

Third parties may request a paper copy of the COVLC training and policies from the college’s Human Resources Office by calling 540-857-7282.

Additional Information:

References

DHRM Policy, 2.35 Civility in the Workplace
VWCC Policy Civility in the Workplace: Campus Violence and Prevention
VCCS Policy Manual, Section 3
VWCC Policy Mandatory Training for Employees

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