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New Presidential Policy on Abusive Conduct in the Workplace

After several years of dedicated effort, including extensive systemwide discussion review, a new Presidential Policy on Abusive Conduct in the Workplace has become effective on Jan. 1, 2023. This policy applies equally to faculty, staff and student employees.

In his letter issuing the policy, President Michael V. Drake, M.D., explains why it represents a critical step in advancing his priorities for UC: “Abusive conduct compromises the vital mission of the university to educate students and serve the residents of California by interfering with an individual’s participation in or benefit from instructional, research, employment or other programs sponsored by the university. Abusive conduct also undermines the university’s ability to achieve inclusive excellence. It is therefore essential that all members of the university community understand the risk that abusive conduct poses to the university’s ability to thrive as an institution.”

Key policy provisions

The Abusive Conduct Policy covers abusive conduct and retaliation by and against members of the University community in the workplace and applies to all UC employees (including student employees), unpaid interns and third parties. The “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the policy identifies examples of abusive conduct, as well as examples of conduct that generally do not constitute abusive conduct.

The Academic Senate continues to have the authority to adjudicate abusive conduct allegations involving faculty members and those that are related to academic freedom. The policy is intended to protect members of the university community from abusive conduct, not to regulate protected speech.

The policy prohibits retaliation against any person who, in good faith, reports abusive conduct, assists someone with a report of abusive conduct or participates in an investigation or other process under the policy.

President Drake concluded his issuance letter by asking locations to join him in committing to the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace. “This commitment is essential to the mission and future success of the University of California.”

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