Abusive conduct and behaviors are inconsistent with the values of the University and should be addressed directly and comprehensively. Regardless of circumstances or setting, staff at all levels found to be engaging in abusive conduct should be held accountable. No member of the University community will be retaliated against for reporting abuse in good faith. While UC has a few current policies that could be used to address abuse, there is some confusion among employees about what abuse is and how to address it.

Click here to view Presidential Policy for Abusive Conduct in the Workplace.

Click here to view UCI's Abusive Conduct Policy Implementation Procedure.

Click here to report Abusive Conduct in the Workplace.


UCI has a number of resources dedicated to assisting employees if they encounter such behavior.



What is Abusive Conduct in the Workplace?

A systemwide definition has been adopted for the University, consistent with the language of the State legislature’s Assembly Bill 2053, which requires training on the prevention of abusive conduct. Assembly Bill 2053 defines abusive conduct as:

Abusive Conduct is harassing or threatening behavior that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive conduct in the Workplace that denies, adversely limits, or interferes with a person’s participation in or benefit from the education, employment, or other programs or activities of the University. The conduct creates an environment, whether intended or not, that a reasonable person would find to be intimidating or offensive and unrelated to the University’s legitimate educational, employment, and business interests. The conduct shall be evaluated taking into account the circumstances of the parties, relationship between the parties (including power imbalance); the frequency, nature and severity of the alleged conduct; whether the conduct was physically threatening; and whether the conduct may be protected as academic freedom or free speech. A single act may constitute Abusive Conduct, if especially severe or egregious. When the alleged conduct involves issues related to academic freedom, the applicable University Office will consult with the appropriate academic officer for relevant academic judgment.

In determining whether the conduct at issue rises to the level of Abusive Conduct, the standard of “reasonable person” should be used. This standard is whether a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would find the conduct hostile or offensive in the Workplace given the totality of the circumstances. Although the intention of the person responsible for the conduct may be considered, it is not determinative. When evaluating the conduct at issue, the parties’ perspectives and circumstances should be considered.

President Drake has issued guidance regarding the University’s expectations for maintaining a productive work environment, including respectful treatment for all members of the campus community. The guidance has examples of abusive conduct, as well as responsible supervisory actions.


Abusive conduct often involves the misuse of power. However, many abuse situations involve employees abusing their peers. In some cases, subordinates may abuse “up.” An individual may abuse one or more other employees. A group may also abuse an individual.


Abusive conduct differs from performance management, harassment/discrimination, and retaliation.

Visit this link for specific examples of abusive behavior and how to differentiate abuse from other types of harassment.