Respectful Workplace Guidelines

Dealing With Disrespectful Behavior

Learn what to do in the following situations:

Maintaining a Respectful Workplace

A fair, collaborative, inclusive, and respectful workplace is a vital prerequisite to the University’s achieving its teaching, research, public service, and patient care goals and preserving its reputation for excellence.

Therefore, the University embraces the concept of a respectful workplace as a core value and is committed to promoting an environment where employees respect each other regardless of their roles, levels of responsibility, or the nature or extent of their contributions.


Regardless of role or status, you are responsible for behaving respectfully and refraining from behaviors that violate other relevant University policies. You have a responsibility to

  • recognize when you or others are being subjected to disrespectful behavior
  • address the behavior directly with the person engaging in disrespectful or abusive conduct
  • alert a supervisor or the next person in the chain of command (if a supervisor is the issue) for prompt resolution
  • make a complaint


In addition to your personal responsibilities as an employee, you have a responsibility to

  • encourage individuals to report instances of disrespectful behavior
  • immediately address all disrespectful behavior once it is reported or observed
  • take the situation seriously and promptly investigate the extent and nature of the problem

Vice Presidents, Deans, and Unit Heads

In addition to your personal responsibilities as an employee and supervisor, you bear the primary responsibility for maintaining a workplace environment free from disrespectful behavior. You are expected to act on this responsibility whenever necessary.

Human Resources

Among other things, it is your responsibility to

  • provide a system for receiving, addressing, and resolving complaints
  • provide training for employees in interpersonal communication skills, problem solving, conflict resolution, and available resources for addressing difficult situations
  • conduct periodic surveys of employees to continuously evaluate compliance
  • incorporate demonstrated compliance with these guidelines as part of annual employee performance appraisals
  • require vendors and their employees to comply with these guidelines as a condition of doing business with UVA
  • acknowledge and reward employees who demonstrate outstanding commitment to a respectful workplace

Examples of Respectful Behavior

Respectful community members

  • respect and value the contributions of all members of our community, regardless of status or role in the organization
  • treat employees with respect, civility, and courtesy
  • work honestly, effectively, and collegially with employees and others
  • respond promptly, courteously, and appropriately to requests from others for assistance or information
  • use conflict management skills, together with respectful and courteous verbal communication, to effectively manage disagreements among employees
  • encourage and support all employees in developing their individual conflict management skills and talents
  • have an open and cooperative approach in dealings with employees, recognizing and embracing individual differences
  • recognize that differing social and cultural standards may mean that acceptable behavior to some may be perceived as unacceptable or unreasonable to others
  • abide by applicable rules, regulations, policies, and bylaws, and address any dissatisfaction with—or violation of—policies and procedures through appropriate channels
  • demonstrate commitment to continuous personal and professional learning and development
  • demonstrate commitment to a culture where all employees cooperate and collaborate in using best practices to achieve high quality work-related outcomes
  • are responsible stewards of material and human assets to achieve excellence and innovation in the education of our students and care of our patients, and in the creation and sharing of knowledge across all disciplines
  • if they are in leadership positions, model civility for others and clearly define expectations for how employees are to treat each other, and be responsive to complaints when they are brought forward

Every employee of the University of Virginia has the right to work in a respectful workplace. In order to promote and sustain a workplace where all employees are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their status or position, each employee is expected to abide by these values and standards of interpersonal behavior, communication, and professionalism.

Examples of Disrespectful Behavior

Consistent with this and other relevant University policies, all employees at the University of Virginia are expected to refrain from disrespectful behavior, such as

  • using threatening or abusive language, profanity, or language that is intended to be or perceived by others to be demeaning, berating, rude, or offensive
  • bullying
  • making threats of violence, retribution, litigation, or financial harm
  • shouting or engaging in speech, conduct, or mannerisms that are reasonably perceived by others to represent intimidation or harassment
  • using racial or ethnic slurs
  • demonstrating racial, gender, sexual orientation, or cultural bias
  • making or telling jokes that are intended to be or reasonably perceived by others to be crude or offensive
  • teasing, name calling, ridiculing, or making someone the subject of pranks or practical jokes
  • using sarcasm or cynicism as a personal attack on others
  • spreading unsubstantiated rumors or gossip
  • making actual or threatening inappropriate physical contact
  • throwing instruments, tools, office equipment, or other items as an expression of anger, criticism, or threat, or in an otherwise disrespectful or abusive manner
  • making comments or engaging in behavior that is untruthful or directed as a personal attack on the professional conduct of others
  • retaliating
  • engaging in any pattern of disruptive behavior or interaction that could interfere with the workplace or adversely impact the quality of services, education, or patient care