Equitable, fair, and respectful workplace policy

September 15, 2022

The City and County of San Francisco (City) is committed to promoting and maintaining a safe and healthy working environment where every individual is treated with civility, dignity, and respect. To this end, it is the policy of the City to provide a workplace where each employee has the right to work in a positive, professional, and mutually respectful atmosphere free from Disrespectful Behavior (defined below). This Equitable, Fair, and Respectful Workplace Policy (Respect Policy) sets forth many of the City’s values, supplements and is in addition to the City’s current policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation and prohibiting violence and threats of violence.

All City employees and City officers play a role in contributing to a truly welcoming, safe, and inclusive working environment that encourages mutual respect and promotes civil and collaborative relationships with the public and among staff, at all levels. The diversity of our employees – the wide range of backgrounds, ideas and lived experiences they bring to City employment – enriches our workplace and enhances our work. To promote and sustain a workplace where all employees and members of the public are treated with respect and dignity, and where employees feel welcomed and valued for who they are and what they can contribute, each City employee is expected to abide by the values and standards below and in this Respect Policy generally of interpersonal behavior, communication, and professionalism:

  • Work honestly, earnestly, collegially, and collaboratively with employees and others;
  • Listen to and value the views and opinions of others, particularly when they differ from your own;
  • Abide by all rules, regulations, policies, and laws and promptly bring concerns about potential violations to your supervisor or departmental Human Resources personnel.

All City employees and City officers have a responsibility to set a positive example and must refrain from engaging in Disrespectful Behavior, whether deliberate or unintentional. The City will not tolerate Disrespectful Behavior in any City workplace and seeks to intervene at the earliest sign or stage of Disrespectful Behavior to correct that misconduct and prevent its reoccurrence. Any employee or officer who violates this policy will be subject to disciplinary actions up to and including termination. Disrespectful Behavior is defined as discourteous, rude, impolite, or offensive words, gestures or other behavior what may devalue and undermine a person and their dignity or self-esteem or create an intimidating, hostile, abusive or offensive environment. Examples of Disrespectful Behavior can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bullying: bullying is a pattern of repeated behavior that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, intimidating, oppressive, subjugating, threatening, and unrelated to the City’s legitimate business interests.

    Bullying behavior may take many forms including physical, verbal, or written acts or behaviors. Workplace bullying often involves repeated abuse or misuse of power. A single physical, verbal, or written act or behavior generally will not constitute bullying unless especially severe and egregious but could nonetheless violate this Respect Policy;
  • Hostility: yelling, interpersonal hostility or spiteful conduct, that is deliberate or repeated and/or causes harm to the targeted person’s or persons’ mental or physical well-being, safety, or economic status. This includes physical intimidation, unwanted touching, or isolation; 
  • Belittling conduct: name calling; playing “pranks” on a person; making fun of someone or telling jokes at their expense; taking, vandalizing, or otherwise damaging a person’s personal or work property; and spreading false information or rumors about someone; seeking submission or misuse of power, authority, rank, status, or other privilege
  • Microaggressions: statements, actions, or incidents regarded as indirect or subtle invalidation, insult, irritant, disregard, prejudice, and/or discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as those having actual or perceived unequal power across economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions. Microaggressions can harm someone or unfairly advantage others; 
  • Intimidation: using threatening or abusive language, profanity or language that is intended to be, or is perceived by others to be, demeaning, berating, belittling, rude, threatening, intimidating, coercive, hostile or offensive;
  • Violence: throwing tools, office equipment, or other objects as an expression of frustration or anger or implying that one will act with violence as a method of influencing the actions of others;
  • Sabotage: intentionally interfering with a process of work or otherwise undermining a person’s work.
  • Invasive use of technology: using social media or other technology, to harass or bully, using statements, photographs, video, or audio that could reasonably viewed as malicious, obscene, threatening or intimidating.

Communication is nuanced and Interpersonal conflict is a normal part of work and life. Maintaining a respectful workplace relies on effective and respectful communication, patience, professionalism and understanding.

All City employees and City officers shall sign an acknowledgment of receipt and compliance with this Respect Policy.

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Management’s Responsibilities

Department-appointing officers, managers, and supervisors must lead by example by creating and maintaining a workplace that demonstrates respect and professionalism and follows the tenets of this Respect Policy. They must respond to Disrespectful Behavior in their respective workplaces including Disrespectful Behavior by vendors, consultants or members of the public. Each city department is required to ensure that all employees receive the accompanying and required training concerning this Policy. When any employee reports that Disrespectful Behavior has occurred, human resources, managers, and supervisors must treat the complaint seriously. Management should follow the guidance on managing interpersonal conflict in the workplace and contact their human resources representative for guidance on handling these kinds of situations. Human Resources must provide support to managers and supervisors upon request for guidance on conflict resolution strategies. Any appointing officer, human resources official, manager or supervisor who observes or otherwise becomes aware of Disrespectful Behavior, has a duty to take appropriate and immediate corrective and preventative action to ensure the workplace is safe for all employees. Departments shall communicate to employees that Disrespectful Behavior will not be tolerated, condoned, or ignored and there are appropriate consequences for violations of the Respect Policy. The City will provide support to its department managers or supervisors with the implementation of the Respect Policy.

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The City will provide:

  1. Mandatory training for all employees and City officers on the policy and strategies for maintaining a respectful workplace
  2. Training on conflict management for managers, supervisors, and HR Professionals
  3. Ongoing learning and development options on effective communication and interpersonal relationships 
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