The Hennepin County Board on Tuesday added workplace bullying to its policy barring discrimination and harassment among employees and volunteers.
Commissioners also unanimously agreed to establish a separate diversity policy to better recruit and maintain a workforce of people with different backgrounds, including race, gender, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
The board approved the workplace bullying policy, one of the first in the country to be adopted by a local government, after trimming out examples of bullying that commissioners said could be confusing and subject to misinterpretation.
Those examples include behaving in an "offensive" way, preventing work from getting done, trumpeting a real or perceived power imbalance, spreading rumors and "derogatory remarks" and excluding or isolating people.
The policy now simply reads: "Workplace bullying is persistent behavior by a person or group that is threatening, humiliating and/or intimidating."
Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who was skeptical that an anti-bullying policy was necessary, said he decided to support it anyway because it didn't affect the county's policy on discrimination and harassment.
"The slimmed-down definition of workplace bullying, I think, is much preferable to what we had before," he said.
Workplace bullying policies have been adopted by only a handful of local governments and private businesses across the country. Hennepin County acted in response to its public employee unions, which asked to have workplace policies amended to include bullying during contract talks last year.