Policies of Colorado State University

University Policy

University Seal
Policy Title: Bullying in the Workplace Category: Human Resources
Owner: Vice President for University Operations Policy ID#: 3-6004-031
Human Resources
Web: http://www.hrs.colostate.edu/
Email: hr_service_center@mail.colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-6947

Also Contact:
Office of Support and Safety Assessment
Web: http://www.supportandsafety.colostate.edu/about-us
Phone: (970) 491-1350
Original Effective Date: 10/27/2015
Last Major Revision: 3/1/2016


Colorado State University (CSU) is committed to maintaining an environment conducive to working and learning, in which the rights and dignity of all staff, faculty, and students of the University community are respected. The University prohibits behaviors that rise to the level of bullying, as described below. Workplace bullying is a form of psychological violence that disrupts the peaceable environment and can result in lower workplace morale, greater employee absenteeism and turnover, as well as higher stress and its related health issues.


This policy applies to all employees, including but not limited to faculty, administrative professionals, and state classified employees, student employees, volunteers, affiliates, and all other persons under the jurisdiction of the University to impose sanctions for behavior in the employment context, including agents, contractors and subcontractors (“Covered Persons”). It is not intended to cover CSU students who are not employed by CSU (although a similar policy applies under the Student Conduct Code).

It is the responsibility of all Covered Persons to know and apply this policy.


“Bullying” in the context of the workplace is repeated, harmful mistreatment by words or actions that are intended to shame, embarrass, humiliate, degrade, demean, intimidate, and/or threaten an individual or group.

A person who is the target of bullying may not be the only one, or even an intended target; behavior that foreseeably places bystanders or unintended targets at risk or in fear, or causes them to feel threatened or humiliated, is within the scope of this definition. Bullying, as used in this policy, includes “cyber-bullying,” meaning bullying that takes place online or is perpetrated using electronic means of communication.

Words or actions that may cause an individual discomfort or distress do not necessarily constitute bullying behavior. Behavior that is unfriendly, dismissive or curt is not bullying unless it is carried to such an extreme that a reasonable person would feel fearful, intimidated, or physically or mentally harmed by it. Criticism, complaints, and negative feedback are not considered bullying when they are reasonable, legitimate, and proportional, and directly address issues of workplace performance and/or conduct. 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.

CSU has a policy that prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment. While workplace bullying can be intertwined with unlawful discrimination and harassment, bullying behavior can occur apart from these other forms of misconduct. Workplace bullying that does not constitute unlawful harassment or discrimination is prohibited by this policy.


The University values the well-being of its employees and recognizes that bullying in the workplace can significantly impact a person’s physical and mental health, as well as the overall experience of working at CSU. Colorado State University considers workplace bullying unacceptable and will not tolerate it under any circumstances.


  1. Bullying, as defined in this policy, is prohibited.
  2. The determination of whether bullying has occurred is highly dependent upon the facts and circumstances surrounding any given situation. That being said, some examples of bullying may include, but are not limited to:

    • Shouting or yelling at, berating, ridiculing, or demeaning others;
    • Name calling and attacks on one’s character;
    • Mocking, punishing, or putting someone down in front of others;
    • Undermining or sabotaging the work performance of others;
    • Spreading false or sensitive information about another;
    • Deliberately excluding, isolating or marginalizing a person from normal workplace activities;
    • Intruding on a person’s space by tampering with their personal effects or work equipment;  
    • Punishments or negative consequences designed primarily to shame, exclude, and/or draw negative attention from others.

  3. Any person who is a target of workplace bullying, or who witnesses or learns of an incident of workplace bullying at CSU, is expected to report it to their supervisor, or, if the supervisor is involved, then to the next level supervisor. Reports may also be made by calling or emailing the Human Resources Solutions Partner (970-491-6947 or myhr@colostate.edu), who may bring the matter to the attention of other University officials, as appropriate. Anyone impacted by bullying behavior may access support services from the Employee Assistance Program, by calling 1-800-497-9133.

  4. Supervisors who receive reports of bullying must make reasonable inquiry into the facts, document what is discovered, and, if warranted, take appropriate action, which may include counseling those involved, initiating corrective action, or pursuing other employment action. Supervisors needing assistance should contact Human Resources. 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 (see, e.g., Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual section C.2.5 for faculty, D.5.5 for Administrative Professionals, and Human Resources Manual section 3 for State Classified).

  5. Any incident that involves a threat of violence or physical harm should be referred to the Office of Support and Safety Assessment for review and consultation, unless the threat is imminent, in which case the CSU Police (or local law enforcement having jurisdiction) should be called. Supervisors and employees may also wish to access resources such as the HR Solutions Partner, University Ombuds, or Office of Equal Opportunity for additional assistance. In certain circumstances, the University may impose interim measures for the duration of the review, including but not limited to campus exclusion.

  6. Members of the University community shall cooperate with the review process.

  7. Freedom of Speech
    The University values and promotes freedom of expression and inquiry as provided under applicable law. Please refer to the University’s policies under References, below. Nothing in this policy is intended to limit or restrict a person’s First Amendment rights or rights to academic freedom; however, such rights do not include the right to engage in workplace bullying.

  8. Violence
    The University is committed to providing a safe and secure campus environment for members of the CSU community, and workplace violence impedes such goals and endangers the entire community. Violent behavior is prohibited in or on any University facility or while participating in any University activity, as described in the University’s separate Violence in the Workplace policy.

  9. Retaliation
    The University will not tolerate, and this policy expressly prohibits, retaliation against employees making good faith reports as provided for in this policy, even where the concerns are ultimately unsubstantiated. False reports of prohibited behavior that are found to have been made intentionally are also violation of this policy. Policy violations may result in University disciplinary action in accordance with established policies and procedures, as appropriate.


Compliance with this policy is mandatory. For assistance with interpreting or applying its provisions, contact the designated Human Resources Solutions Partner.

Any person covered by this policy who engages in workplace bullying is subject to disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination or dismissal from the University, in accordance with applicable policies and procedures (including, for tenured faculty, those contained within section E.15 of the Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual; and for all other employees, as set forth in the Human Resources Manual).

Student employees who are in violation of this policy are also subject to the procedures detailed in the CSU Student Conduct Code.

This policy is not intended to conflict with or supersede any other policy that might subject a violating party to disciplinary review, including but not limited to the Policy on Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation, the Policy on Workplace Violence, the CSU Student Conduct Code, the Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual, and existing Human Resources or departmental conduct policies.



Approved by Anthony A. Frank, President, Oct.27, 2015