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Inappropriate Behavior

Inappropriate behavior falls at the very beginning of the Johns Hopkins Continuum of Disruptive Behaviors at Work.  Inappropriate behavior is the least offensive of the disruptive behaviors and is often seen as the way a person “broadcasts” him or herself.  People who display these types of behaviors are typically mindful of what constitutes “proper” conduct, but they choose to ignore the limits of acceptability when in the presence of others.

It is important to recognize these behaviors, and to say something if you see any of them, so that they do not escalate and cause a greater risk of disruption to faculty, staff, students, and the community. Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System have adopted policies that call for zero tolerance of violent behavior, threats, bullying, and intimidation. When inappropriate behavior is not managed, one may push the limits and become disruptive. Johns Hopkins will not permit employment-based retaliation against anyone who, in good faith, brings a complaint of workplace violence or who speaks as a witness in the investigation of a complaint of workplace violence. 

Specific Actions Associated with Inappropriate Behavior

A subcommittee of the Joint Risk Assessment Team developed a list of concerning behaviors as part of ongoing research on disruptive behaviors at work and early intervention and prevention of workplace violence. Examples of behavior that indicate inappropriate conduct include:

  • Rude, loud, and off-colored remarks
  • Inappropriate or degrading jokes
  • Brushing or touching someone in inappropriate ways and passing it off as an accident
  • Posting personal effects (post-it notes, pictures, etc.) in their own work space that could be perceived as strange or threatening
  • Swearing in public
  • Shouting out loud but not targeted at someone
  • Exhibiting presumably uncontrollable mood swings in front of the group
  • Publicly displaying “gross,” undignified (but not illegal) behavior

Awareness means understanding that behaviors left unchecked can escalate into violence.  If there is a behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t ignore it. Take action well before the point at which violence might occur. If you or someone you know is concerned about any of these behaviors, contact your supervisor or academic advisor, human resources/labor relations, Security, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, or the Workplace Risk Assessment program manager at .