Frequently Asked Questions: Civil

What is Civil?

Civil is a team of NIH experts that promotes civil behavior in the NIH workplace.

  • The phone number is 301-40-“C-i-v-i-l” or 301-402-4845; TTY at 301-402-9499.
  • Civil is a place to call if you have questions or concerns about harassing, intimidating, or threatening workplace behaviors.
  • The Civil Response Team draws upon its membership from many NIH resources, including management; Employee and Labor Relations; the Office of the Ombudsman; the Employee Assistance Program; the NIH Police; the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; and others, to help prevent or respond to situations involving harassment, bullying, intimidation, threats, or violence.
  • To ask questions or share concerns regarding the NIH Civil Program or if you would like a presentation tailored to meet the needs or your organization, please contact:
Why should I call Civil?

Contacting Civil can help minimize or eliminate violence at work.

  • This team can provide a sounding board for problem-solving in these matters.
  • The NIH policy states that all individuals are to report threats and acts of violence, so that we can maintain a safe work environment for all our staff and visitors.
  • Anyone who reports in good faith a legitimate concern about threats or violence or who participates in investigations is assured protection from reprisals.
  • Civil is an NIH resource that people may use to report threats of violence, harassment, intimidation or other disruptive behavior and get information about appropriate next steps. 
What kinds of things should I call Civil about?

You can call about any behavior you find upsetting, disruptive, or potentially violent. This includes:

  • sexual harassment or unwelcome sexual advances
  • concerns about yourself or a colleague whom you think may be considering harm to self or others
  • unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that creates a work environment that is hostile, intimidating, or offensive
  • disruptive or concerning behavior
  • worries about domestic violence spilling over into the workplace
  • threatening behavior or threatening statements, such as, “someone will pay for that” or “that’s what causes people to bring in guns or go postal. “

In instances where violence is imminent, first:

  • Secure your personal safety and that of others
  • Call the NIH or local police by calling 911 (or dial 9, then 911 if you are off campus).
What will Civil do when I call?

Civil team members will talk with you, help you assess the situation, and help you determine what you or others could do about it.

  • Civil may refer you to its individual members for you to pursue your options further, and/or
  • Civil may convene a team meeting to share ideas and develop a solution.
If I call Civil, will my call be kept confidential?

You do not have to provide your name when you contact Civil.  However, while Civil cannot guarantee confidentiality, callers may remain anonymous with the understanding that:

  • a review or inquiry to look into the situation will be conducted to the greatest extent possible based on the information available, but the scope may be limited in the absence of detailed information;
  • the resulting actions for the subject of allegations may be limited without sufficient supporting information; and
  • the subject of the allegations may be able to figure out who may have reported them if NIH takes any steps to address the matter.

NOTE: All NIH supervisors and managers have an obligation to report allegations of harassment and potential harm to self or others immediately.

Are records kept when people call Civil?

We maintain a record of all calls so that we have information about the kinds of concerns and potential problems raised. This helps us determine if we need to provide additional information on our website, training courses, or other ways to respond to NIH concerns. Records of calls for general information only do not identify the caller by name or office.

Will I know what happened after I contact Civil?

A follow-up call will usually be made if an action plan has been developed or a referral suggested. These calls are made to be sure the plan is working or the referral was helpful and that no additional issues need to be addressed. We also solicit feedback as to how well Civil is doing in responding to people’s concerns.