Maintaining A Healthy Workplace: Anti-Bullying Policy


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
Sept. 30, 2019 When Superseded 1   16  


The D.C. Department of Human Resources (DCHR) works to foster a healthy and collaborative work environment where all District of Columbia Government
employees can thrive. We envision a work environment where employees feel safe, supported, and comfortable reaching out to their managers with questions and concerns. As part of this effort, the District is taking an affirmative stand against workplace bullying.

Everyone has a role to play when it comes to keeping bullying out of the workplace. All District employees are expected to show respect for one another and immediately report instances of workplace bullying when they see it happening. This issuance details the steps that agencies, managers, and employees should take to prevent bullying. It also offers guidance to employees who are experiencing workplace bullying, so that the situation may be addressed immediately and appropriately.

What is Workplace Bullying?

“Workplace bullying” is deliberate mistreatment of an employee that a reasonable person would find hostile, intimidating, or offensive. However, workplace bullying must not be confused with management’s non-abusive assignment of tasks, coaching, and reprimanding or taking appropriate disciplinary actions. Nothing in this issuance should be interpreted to restrict managers’ reasonable efforts to manage their employees.

Examples of workplace bullying include:

  • Verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets;
  • Verbal or nonverbal conduct of a threatening, intimidating, or humiliating nature; and
  • The sabotage or undermining of an employee’s work performance or opportunity for promotion or advancement.

Any act of workplace bullying is considered misconduct and is cause for proper administrative action as described in Chapter 16 of the District Personnel Manual. Agencies and managers must demonstrate reasonable care to promptly address all claims of workplace bullying.

Agency Responsibilities

Agencies are responsible for creating and maintaining systems that support a healthy work environment. As such, agencies must produce a safe, secure, and easy process for employees to report workplace bullying. Agencies must also hold supervisors and managers accountable for communicating and upholding applicable standards of behavior and conduct with their employees.

The workplace bullying reporting procedure shall provide a practical, confidential, and accessible way for employees to report incidents of workplace bullying. The reporting procedure may require the formulation of reporting forms, private channels of communication, and whatever else may be necessary to effectuate swift and appropriate agency action in support of the targeted employee.

All agencies should document reports of workplace bullying, including:

  • A written statement of the alleged facts, including dates of the alleged incident and conduct;
  • The name, email address, and phone number of the employee reporting the workplace bullying;
  • The name of the alleged offender(s) and alleged victim(s) (if known);
  • A written statement as to the employee’s injury or harm, if applicable;
  • The name of the agency at issue; and
  • Any additional information and documentation the reporting employee wishes to provide.

An employee may file an anonymous complaint without all the information listed above, when deemed necessary for the health and safety of the employee.

Managers and Supervisors

Managers and supervisors must set the tone for those they supervise. To ensure a healthy workplace culture, managers and supervisors shall model appropriate behavior and conduct by treating everyone with dignity and respect. They must also inform their employees of our workplace values, as well as all related rules, procedures, and standards of conduct, and DCHR’s expectation that all District employees operate under these same values and behaviors.

Managers and supervisors shall promptly take action whenever they see or have reason to believe bullying is occurring in the workplace. They should also encourage employees to promptly report instances of workplace bullying.

As a general means of fostering a healthy work environment, managers and supervisors must take steps to prevent and, if it arises, address workplace bullying in a reasonable and fair manner, including:

  • Expeditiously addressing incidents and reports of workplace bullying;
  • Applying the same standards of conduct to all employees;
  • Investigating reports of workplace bullying to make appropriate decisions regarding remedial action;
  • Informing employees accused of workplace bullying of the basis of the claim, communicating relevant standards, and offering support to correct behavior as needed; and
  • Respecting the experiences of all employees.


Employees are the heart of an agency’s culture. Having a safe and supportive work environment requires employees to work collaboratively with managers to model a respectful atmosphere. As part of the District’s policy on workplace bullying, employees should promptly report incidents of workplace bullying that they directly witness or experience using their agency’s reporting structure. By reporting these incidents, we hold one another accountable for the ideals we set for our agencies and ourselves.

Responding to Workplace Bullying

The District government is committed to supporting any employee who experiences workplace bullying. Employees should follow the steps below to prevent and stop workplace bullying:

Step 1 - Report: Employees who experience or witness workplace bullying should promptly report the incident to their immediate supervisor or manager. In addition to promptly reporting the incident to their manager, whenever possible, such employees shall use their agency’s confidential reporting structure to file a formal report. If the employee’s manager is the accused bully, the employee should report the behavior to their manager’s direct supervisor or agency human resources staff, who will then carry out Steps 2 and 3 below.

Step 2 - Investigate: Upon receiving reports of workplace bullying or witnessing the behavior firsthand, a manager shall immediately investigate. The investigation shall include carefully reviewing the report of workplace bullying, speaking with both the employee(s) who was subjected to workplace bullying and the employee who filed the report (if different), and speaking with the individual(s) accused of engaging in workplace bullying.

Step 3 - Correct: If the manager’s investigation substantiates the claim of workplace bullying, then the manager shall address the behavior using
the progressive discipline system established in the District Personnel Manual Chapter 16, “Corrective and Adverse Actions; Enforced Leave; and Grievances.”

Investigating Reports of Bullying

Upon witnessing or receiving a report of workplace bullying, managers and supervisors shall immediately investigate using the process and standards listed in District Personnel Instruction No. 16-18, “Discipline.”

Administrative Actions

If, after carrying out the investigative process articulated in District Personnel Instruction No. 16-18, “Discipline,” a manager or supervisor determines an employee has engaged in workplace bullying, they must take the appropriate administrative action. The nature of this action will depend on several factors, including but not limited to the employee’s work history, disciplinary record, and past discipline imposed by the agency for similar conduct.


This issuance applies to those District government agencies under the Mayor’s personnel authority.


  1. 6B D.C. Municipal Regulations Chapter 1, “Human Resources Management" (See 6B DCMR § 100.3);
  2. 6B D.C. Municipal Regulations Chapter 16, “Corrective and Adverse Actions; Enforced Leave; and Grievances”;
  3. D.C. Code §§ 1–604.04(a) and 1-604.06(b);
  4. D.C. Code § 1-204.22(3); and
  5. Mayor’s Order 2008-92, “Delegations and Sub-Delegations of Authority - Director of the D.C. Department of Human Resources and Agency Heads and Rescission of Mayor’s Order 2000-83.” (June 26, 2008).

Additional Information

For additional information concerning this issuance, please contact the Department of Human Resources, Policy and Compliance Administration, by calling (202) 442-9700 or by sending an e-mail to

Issued by Director Ventris C. Gibson, D.C. Department of Human Resources on Sept. 30, 2019, midnight