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Mayor Megan Barry Executive Order Number 39



Subject: Workplace Conduct Policy for Metropolitan Government Employees

I, Megan Barry, Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me, do hereby find, direct and order the following:

I. Employees of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County should not be subjected to abusive behavior from other employees. Abusive behavior directed toward others will not be tolerated and employees found to be engaging in such conduct shall be subject to corrective and/or disciplinary action.

II. Persons Covered. The Abusive Conduct Policy addressed in this Executive Order is available to all unclassified employees of the Metropolitan Government except: employees of elected officials, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Board of Health, Nashville Electric Service, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Metropolitan Sports Authority, and Metropolitan Hospital Authority. Classified employees of the Metropolitan Government are covered pursuant to the Rules and Policies of their respective Civil Service Commissions or Boards. I hereby request that elected officials, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Board of Health, Nashville Electric Service, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, Metropolitan Sports Authority, and the Metropolitan Hospital Authority consider adopting a similar policy for the employees under their authority.

III. Policy Statement. The Tennessee Healthy Workplace Act (T.C.A. §50-1-501 et. seq.) encourages Tennessee employers to adopt a policy that promotes a healthy workplace by recognizing and responding to abusive conduct or behavior in the workplace. In keeping with the provisions of the Act, any employee or group of employees of the Metropolitan Government found to have engaged in abusive conduct (as defined below) toward another employee or group of employees shall be subject to corrective and/or disciplinary action. In addition, supervisors may also be subject to corrective action or discipline if they learn of abusive conduct in their workplace and fail to take appropriate action.

IV. Policy Provisions:

a. Definitions and Guidelines - Abusive conduct is behavior that creates an intimidating environment and is likely to interfere with an individual’s work. This conduct can be verbal, visual, physical, or communicated in writing or electronically. Such conduct is typically directed against a particular individual or individuals. It includes, but is not limited to, situations where one person has authority over another and engages in conduct that unfairly exploits the power inherent in a supervisor’s position.

Examples of conduct that may be considered abusive include but are not limited to:

  • Repeated threatening or intimidating behavior or words (written or oral);
  • Repeated use of obscenities, profanities, epithets, gestures or cartoons directed at a person or group;
  • Repeated degrading of a person or a group on the basis of personal characteristic(s);
  • Repeated taunting, jeering, mocking, or humiliating another person through acts or words;
  • Repeated screaming and/or yelling at or around others;
  • Insulting someone, especially in the presence of others;
  • Endangering the safety of an individual or individuals;
  • Sabotaging or undermining an employee’s work performance.

In considering a complaint under this policy, it shall be understood that abusive conduct must be distinguished from behavior which, even though unpleasant or disconcerting, is appropriate to the carrying out of certain supervisory/instructional responsibilities. Examples of conduct that should not be considered as abusive include but are not limited to:

  • Routine coaching and counseling, including feedback about and correction of work performance;
  • Reasonable work assignments, including shift, post, and overtime assignments;
  • Individual differences in styles of personal expression;
  • Passionate, loud expression with no intent to harm others;
  • Differences of opinion on work-related concerns;
  • The non-abusive exercise of managerial prerogative.

The fact that someone did not intend to be abusive is generally not considered a sufficient defense to a complaint, although the reasonableness of the accuser’s perceptions may be considered. In most cases, it is the characteristics and the effect of the behavior on the complainant and whether a reasonable person would find the conduct abusive that determines whether the behavior was abusive. A single act generally will not constitute abusive conduct, unless such conduct is determined to be severe and egregious.

b. Reporting Procedures - Any employee who feels he or she has been subjected to abusive conduct, or any employee who believes abusive conduct has been perpetrated by one or more employees toward one or more co-workers, is encouraged to report the matter to a supervisor including his or her supervisor, manager, appointing authority, or to the human resources office. Employees should not feel obligated to report their complaints to their immediate supervisor first before bringing the matter to the attention of one of the representatives identified above. While it is encouraged, an employee seeking to file a complaint need not make the complaint in writing. However, the complainant must present sufficient detail concerning the alleged abusive conduct, including dates, times, locations, the identity of any witnesses, and what the complainant expects the witnesses to know concerning his/her complaint. Unless a threat of personal or professional harm has caused an employee to delay reporting abusive conduct, a report of abusive conduct should be made within sixty (60) calendar days of the date of the conduct giving rise to the report.

c. Response to Complaint - The recipient of an abusive conduct complaint should timely notify both the appointing authority and human resources personnel of the complainant’s department. The appointing authority may appoint his/her own department personnel to investigate or may request the assistance of investigators from the Human Resources Department. If an investigation is deemed necessary, it will be conducted as soon as practicable. All affected parties will be informed regarding the outcome of the investigation. If a complainant or group is dissatisfied with the outcome regarding the ultimate question of whether the conduct complained of violated this policy, an appeal can be made to the Appointing Authority of the department of agency by making a written request for review within ten (10) calendar days of the date the investigative report was issued. The decision of the appointing Authority shall be final.

Lodging a complaint of abuse is not proof of prohibited conduct. A complaint against an individual shall not be taken into account during a performance evaluation or consideration for targeting into a new position or promotion, until a final determination has been made that the policy has been violated.

d. Retaliation - Retaliation means conduct that adversely affects another’s terms or conditions of employment and has the effect of harming a person based upon him/her filing a complaint or for participating in the investigation. Retaliation can take many forms. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • A threat of transfer or reassignment of work duties;
  • A threat of the loss of one’s job, salary level, or tangible benefits related to one’s job.

It is a violation of this policy to retaliate against persons who report or make a charge of abusive conduct, or against those who testify, assist, or participate in any investigation involving a complaint. Any such retaliation, or any encouragement of another to retaliate, is a violation of this policy, independent of whether the underlying claim was substantiated.

e. False or Frivolous Allegations - Accusations of abusive conduct typically have injurious and far-reaching effects on the careers and lives of accused individuals. Therefore, allegations must be made in good faith and not out of malice. Knowingly making a false or frivolous allegation will not be tolerated and will subject the person making such a report to disciplinary action.

f. Corrective and/or Disciplinary Action - Any employee who engages in conduct that violates this policy or who encourages such conduct by others will be subject to corrective and/or disciplinary action. Corrective action may include, but is not limited to, participation in counseling, training, change in job duties, or change in job location. Applicable disciplinary action may include suspension, demotion, or termination of employment. 

Supervisory personnel who allow abusive conduct to continue or fail to take appropriate action upon learning of such conduct will also be subject to corrective and/or disciplinary action.


Megan Barry
Metropolitan County Mayor

Date: October 12, 2017