Workplace Conduct Management

The section of the toolkit cover addressing employee concerns, grievances, disciplinary actions, and probationary periods. For information on professional development including manager training opportunities, visit Learning & Development.

Employees are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and appropriate manner. However, there may be occasions when workplace issues arise. The links below provide information on how to address these issues and concerns in the workplace. In addition, HR managers should review the Administrative Code of Conduct and Statement of Ethical Conduct policy for more information.

Resolving Workplace Issues

Whether you are a student, faculty member, staff, or member of the alumni, the Ombuds Office offers a confidential place to discuss workplace issues, academic concerns, issues relating to administrative paperwork and process, explanation and interpretation of policies and procedures, and many other problems.

See the Ombuds Office for more information or to set up an appointment.

As an institution, Columbia University is committed to the principles of equity and excellence.  It actively pursues both, adhering to the belief that equity is the partner of excellence.  Columbia University's goal is a workforce and student body that reflects the diversity and talent of New York City, the larger metropolitan area, and the nation.  In furtherance of this goal, Columbia has implemented policies and programs which seek to ensure that its employment and educational decisions are based on individual merit and not on bias or stereotypes.

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) has overall responsibility for the management of the University’s Student Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment and the Employment Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment.

Members of the faculty, staff and student body may contact the office to inquire about their rights under the University's policies, request mediation or counseling, or seek information about the application of the policies to specific situations.

See the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action for more information.

The EAP is a network of services, including short-term counseling, to help you and your household members cope with everyday issues. Humana's professional counselors are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. 

See the Employee Assistance Program for more information.

Humana/CUHR Management Referral Program

Columbia University Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems which are negatively impacting their performance.

The Management Referral Program (MRP) is designed to assist the manager and the employee to address performance or conduct problems affecting the employee’s work. A management referral is not just a suggestion for an employee to call the EAP, it is a serious matter requiring input from the School/Department HR, the Senior HR Business Partner (SHRBP), CUHR Generalist, or Leave Management and the EAP Management Consultant and the employee. For these cases, the university is “strongly recommending” the employee pursue this assistance through the EAP.

The program can address a broad and complex range of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as stress, grief, and family problems that are impacting performance. The EAP consultant is in place to support the employee as they work to address personal issues that may be impacting work performance and will also work in a consultative role with managers and supervisors to address the employee’s challenges and needs.

Manager Referral

The Management Referral Program (MRP) is intended to be used in an effort to retain an employee by assisting him/her in resolving performance issues. The Manager should be able to clearly identify observable problems, such as, excessive absences, arguing with coworkers, difficulty in performing tasks and meeting deadlines.  The Manager is required to work closely with their respective SHRBP, CUHR Generalist, or Leave Management on the referral The EAP Management Consultant will refer the employee for assistance to address the identified issue(s). The Management Consultant will also serve as the case manager and point of contact for the SHRBP, CUHR Generalist, or Leave Management.

The EAP Management Consultant will provide compliance updates to the SHRBP, CUHR Generalist, or Leave Management on a bi-weekly basis or on a schedule that is mutually agreed upon.

The Management Consultant does not share any details of the case.


The School/Department HR will work with their SHRBP, CUHR Generalist, or Leave Management to begin a Management Referral and to ensure the referral is integrated into a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) or other performance related document. The SHRBP, Generalist, or Leave Management will contact the EAP Management Consulting Team and describe the situation. The EAP consultant will provide recommendations and an action plan which usually includes admittance into the Management Referral Program. Updates will be sent to CUHR from the EAP Consultant on a bi-weekly basis, or on a schedule that is mutually agreed upon.


  • During the performance improvement plan meeting, the School/Department will provide the employee with the EAP Release of Information form. Signing the release form is mandatory before beginning any sessions with the EAP Consultant. The School/Department will provide the signed consent form directly to EAP.
  • Inform the employee of the number of sessions available through the EAP benefit.
  • Provide the employee with the EAP contact information so they may obtain a referral to a counselor.  The employee will schedule the first session with the counselor directly.
  • Explain to the employee that they need to identify themselves as part of the University’s Management Referral Program.
  • Explain to employee the strong recommendation to work with EAP as part of their performance improvement plan/goals.
  • If employee consents to engage the EAP MRP, (1) CUHR will notify EAP of the employee’s consent and (2) School/ Department will provide EAP with a signed copy of the Release of Information form along with the PIP or other performance related documents. 
  • Inform the employee that if he/she is not willing to participate in the program, that the program will not be available to them at a later date even if their performance continues to deteriorate or if further disciplinary action follows.
  • Departments may not proceed with a referral without discussion with SHRBP, CUHR Generalist, or Leave Management.

Updated: 11/13/2020

The University provides formal grievance procedures for its employees in the event of suspensions or discharge. Officers of Administration and Non-Union Support Staff must begin the grievance procedure within 30 days after the action (suspension or discharge) that precipitates the complaint. For more information, contact the Employment & HR Client Services staff.

Employment & HR Client Services

615 West 131st Street, MC 8704
Floor 4 Studebaker
Phone: (212) 851-7008
Email: [email protected] 

See Grievance Policy 

Separate grievance procedures for Officers of Instruction and Research are listed in the Faculty Handbook.

All employees are expected to adhere to generally accepted rules of conduct and organizational behavior. Please review review the Administrative Code of Conduct and Statement of Ethical Conduct policy for a statement of these basic principles. If an employee's work performance does not meet acceptable standards, progressive discipline practices should be utilized.

If the work performance of an Officer of Administration or Non-Union Support Staff  member does not meet acceptable standards:

  • Provide counsel, point out areas of improvement needed, and recommend ways to overcome these areas of concern
  • Give an oral warning to the employee and file written documentation that an oral warning was administered if the problem persists
  • Give a formal written warning to the employee if the employee fails to correct the problem
  • Should additional steps -- up to and including termination -- be considered, please consult with your HR Client Manager first
  • Depending on the circumstances of the case and the severity of the offense, one or more of the above steps may be repeated or by-passed

Separate discipline procedures for Officers of Instruction and Research are listed in the Faculty Handbook.

For complaints of discrimination and harassment, a separate procedure applies to all Faculty & Staff, administered by the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office.

For information on grievance and disciplne procedures for union support staff, visit Labor Relations.

A Non-Union Support Staff (NUSS) employee is considered to be on probationary status for a ninety calendar-day period beginning with the date of employment. Upon an employee's satisfactory completion of the probationary period, he or she is considered to be a regular employee (unless the job is stated to be temporary).

During the probationary period, either the employee or the department may terminate employment without notice. The employee is not entitled to use grievance procedures.

A probationary period may be extended for thirty additional calendar days with written notice to the employee. Termination of employment while on probation or an extended probationary period must be approved by the head of the department, and must be indicated in writing to the Office of Labor and Employee Relations.

Probationary Performance Evaluation Form

The NUSS Probationary Performance Evaluation Form is designed to assist the supervisor in deciding whether or not each new NUSS employee has satisfactorily completed the probationary period. The supervisor should also use the evaluation form and subsequent discussion with the employee to promote job understanding, elicit and give feedback, and aid in employee development.

The form should be completed by the supervisor at least midway into the probationary period and discussed with the new employee. No later than seven calendar days before the end of the employee's probationary period, the form should be revised, if necessary, and discussed with the employee.

If the employee has not satisfactorily completed the probationary period, a decision should be made and approved by the department head whether to 1) terminate the employee, or 2) extend the probationary period for an additional period of time. In either case, the employee must be told in writing. A copy of the letter plus a copy of the evaluation form should be forwarded to The Office of Labor and Employee Relations.

If the probationary period is extended, the letter to the employee should indicate the specific criteria which must be met. Before the end of the extended period, the supervisor should reevaluate the employee's performance. Employees should be informed if they have met the indicated criteria and passed the extended probationary period. If the employee has not successfully completed the extended probationary period, employment should be terminated in writing without further notice. A copy of the termination letter plus a copy of the updated evaluation form must be forwarded to The Office of Labor and Employee Relations