Workplace Conduct Resources: Protections and Policies

Federal Judiciary

Relevant Policies Regarding Workplace Conduct

The Federal Judiciary has multiple policies that include provisions designed to provide employees with workplace protections and promote an exemplary workplace based on respect, civility, fairness, tolerance, and dignity:


        Canon 3: A Judge Should Perform the Duties of the Office Fairly, Impartially and Diligently

      • The duties of judicial office take precedence over all other activities. The judge should perform those duties with respect for others, and should not engage in behavior that is harassing, abusive, prejudiced, or biased. The judge should adhere to the following standards:
        . . .
        (B) Administrative Responsibilities.
        . . .
        (4) A judge should practice civility, by being patient, dignified, respectful, and courteous, in dealings with court personnel, including chambers staff. A judge should not engage in any form of harassment of court personnel. A judge should not retaliate against those who report misconduct. A judge should hold court personnel under the judge’s direction to similar standards.
        . . .
        (6) A judge should take appropriate action upon receipt of reliable information indicating the likelihood that a judge’s conduct contravened this Code, that a judicial employee’s conduct contravened the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees, or that a lawyer violated applicable rules of professional conduct.

        Read the full Code of Conduct for United States Judges



        Canon 3: A Judicial Employee Should Adhere to Appropriate Standards in Performing the Duties of the Office


        In performing the duties prescribed by law, by resolution of the Judicial Conference of the United States, by court order, or by the judicial employee's appointing authority, the following standards apply:
        . . .
        C. Standards of Conduct (1) A judicial employee should be patient, dignified, respectful, and courteous to all persons with whom the judicial employee deals in an official capacity, including other employees and the general public. A judicial employee should not engage in sexual or other forms of harassment of court employees or retaliate against those who report misconduct. A judicial employee should hold court personnel under the judicial employee's direction to similar standards. A judicial employee should take appropriate action upon receipt of reliable information indicating a likelihood of conduct contravening this Code. Appropriate action depends on the circumstances and may include, for example, reporting such conduct to a supervisor, court executive, or chief judge. For relevant elaboration, see Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Commentary to Canons 3B(4) and 3B(6)

        Read the full Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees


        Note: Each court has its own Employment Dispute Resolution (EDR) Plan, which may vary from the Model Employment Dispute Resolution Plan. You can find your court's Employment Dispute Resolution Plan on your court's website or by contacting your Director of Workplace Relations.


        The Federal Judiciary is committed to a workplace of respect, civility, fairness, tolerance, and dignity, free of discrimination and harassment. These values are essential to the Judiciary, which holds its Judges and Employees to the highest standards. All Judges and Employees are expected to treat each other accordingly.

        This Plan provides options for the reporting and resolution of allegations of wrongful conduct (discrimination, sexual, racial, or other discriminatory harassment, abusive conduct, and retaliation) in the workplace. Early action is the best way to maintain a safe work environment. All Judges, Employing Offices, and Employees have a responsibility to promote workplace civility, prevent harassment or abusive conduct, and to take appropriate action upon receipt of reliable information indicating a likelihood of wrongful conduct under this Plan. See Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees, Canon 3(C).
        . . .


        • discrimination;
        • sexual, racial, and other discriminatory harassment;
        • abusive conduct; and
        • retaliation (including retaliation as described in the Whistleblower Protection Provision in Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 12, § 220.10.20(c)).

      • A. This Plan prohibits wrongful conduct that occurs during the period of employment or the interview process (for an applicant). Wrongful conduct includes:
        . . .

        B. Discrimination is an adverse employment action that materially affects the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment (such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, or a significant change in benefits) based on the following Protected Categories: race, color, sex, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age (40 years and over), or disability.

        C. Discriminatory harassment occurs when a workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the employment and create an abusive working environment. Discriminatory harassment includes sexual harassment. 

        Examples of conduct that may give rise to discriminatory harassment: racial slurs; derogatory comments about a person's ethnicity, culture, or foreign accent; or jokes about a person's age, disability, or sexual orientation. 

        Examples of conduct that may give rise to sexual harassment: suggestive or obscene notes, emails, text messages, or other types of communications; sexually degrading comments; display of sexually suggestive objects or images; unwelcome or inappropriate touching or physical contact; unwelcome sexual advances or propositions; inappropriate remarks of a sexual nature or about physical appearance; or employment action affected by submission to, or rejection of, sexual advances.

        D. Abusive Conduct is a pattern of demonstrably egregious and hostile conduct not based on a Protected Category that unreasonably interferes with an Employee's work and creates an abusive working environment. 

        Abusive conduct is threatening, oppressive, or intimidating. Abusive conduct does not include communications and actions reasonably related to performance management, including but not limited to: instruction, corrective criticism, and evaluation; performance improvement plans; duty assignments and changes to duty assignments; office organization; progressive discipline; and adverse action.

        E. Retaliation is a materially adverse action taken against an Employee for reporting wrongful conduct; for assisting in the defense of rights protected by this Plan; or for opposing wrongful conduct. Retaliation against a person who reveals or reports wrongful conduct is itself wrongful conduct.

        Read the full Model Employment Dispute Resolution Plan


      • 4. (a) Misconduct Generally. Cognizable Misconduct is conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts. Cognizable misconduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:
        . . .
        (2) Abusive or Harassing Behavior. Cognizable misconduct includes:

        • (A) engaging in unwanted, offensive, or abusive sexual conduct, including sexual harassment or assault;
        • (B) treating litigants, attorneys, judicial employees, or others in a demonstrably egregious and hostile manner; or
        • (C) creating a hostile work environment for judicial employees.

        (3) Discrimination. Cognizable misconduct includes intentional discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, or disability;

        (4) Retaliation. Cognizable misconduct includes retaliating against complainants, witnesses, judicial employees, or others for participating in this complaint process, or for reporting or disclosing judicial misconduct or disability;
        . . .

        (6) Failure to Report or Disclose. Cognizable misconduct includes failing to call to the attention of the relevant chief district judge or chief circuit judge any reliable information reasonably likely to constitute judicial misconduct or disability.
        . . .

        Read the full Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings