5.1.8 Threatening and/or Violent Behavior in the Workplace

Policy Section: Conditions of Employment

Policy Number and Title: 5.1.8 Threatening and/or Violent Behavior in the Workplace
Applicable to: All Administrative and Support Staffs
Effective Date: May 3, 2004

Policy Description

To ensure the safety and security of the University workplace, we are asking that certain guidelines be followed. Threats and/or threatening behavior, or acts of violence by University employees against [themselves], other staff members, faculty, students, visitors or other individuals on University property or by University employees while in the conduct of University business off campus, are cause for removal from the workplace and may result in discipline and/or termination of employment. As outlined in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, under University Wide Conduct Regulations, threatening behavior may include, but is not limited to: hitting, shoving, sexual assault, attacks, "stalking", verbal or non-verbal threats, vandalism, arson, and carrying a weapon of any type (regardless of whether the owner is licensed to carry it or not) or explosives. In addition, damage or destruction to University property by any employee will result in termination of employment.

Application of this Policy

An employee who exhibits inappropriate or disruptive workplace behavior that can be deemed threatening or potentially threatening may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. The employee may be required to attend Employee Assistance Program assessment/counseling as a condition of continued employment. Failure to attend counseling may result in further disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
 
All staff members have a responsibility to report threatening or violent behavior whether that behavior is exhibited by a member of the Princeton community or visitors to the campus.
 
Confidentiality
Reports of threatening and/or violent behavior are disclosed only to those accepting the report in order to protect the reporting individual(s) from possible retaliation as well as the alleged offender. Information regarding such reports is only be provided to individuals with a need to know and as required by the courts and law enforcement agencies.
 
Responsibilities of Supervisors
Prevention
Supervisors are critical to the prevention of employee violence in the workplace. By recognizing early signs and intervening prudently and appropriately, supervisors can reduce the chances of eruptive violent behavior. When left unchecked, inappropriate behaviors can escalate to higher levels. Behavioral warning signs which, in some combination, may indicate a potential for violence, could include but are not limited to:
  1. paranoia (e.g. "others are out to get me or get my job")
  2. frequent angry outbursts, difficulty controlling temper
  3. recent isolation of self from co-workers, seems to turn a cold shoulder
  4. rash or impulsive behavior without apparent forethought
  5. failure to accept criticism blames others when things go wrong
  6. drug/alcohol use or abuse
  7. obsession about possessing or collecting weapons, or "getting" someone
  8. co-workers have concerns about, or fear this person
  9. bragging about past acts of violence
A supervisor, who observes such behaviors in an employee, particularly when they represent behavioral change, should consult with his or her manager to determine whether or not other University resources are required. The Office of Human Resources can also help with this determination. 
 
Reporting
Any supervisor who becomes aware of, or believes that he/she has witnessed an incident of violent or threatening behavior, or who is the recipient of threatening and/or violent behavior, should report such incident(s) immediately to the Office of Human Resources. The department and the Office of Human Resources will review the situation to determine whether or not the Threat Assessment Group (TAG) needs to be consulted in a particular case. 
 
If the supervisor believes that someone may be in imminent danger, or if the incident in question resulted in anyone being physically harmed, the supervisor must immediately contact the Department of Public Safety. The executive director of Public Safety will advise the supervisor as to a course of action and will also contact the Office of Human Resources. The executive director of Public Safety determines if the TAG should be notified and TAG will determine if the situation warrants action by the team.
 
Under certain circumstances, a supervisor may have to act prior to contacting other University resources. Where appropriate, supervisors should rely on information received in training and related programs. As soon as possible, the supervisor should follow the reporting procedure outlined above.
 
Responsibilities of Employees
Reporting
Any employee who becomes aware of, or believes that he or she has witnessed an incident of violent or threatening behavior, or who is the recipient of threatening and/or violent behavior, should immediately report such incident(s) to the employee’s supervisor, the supervisor’s manager, or the Office of Human Resources.
 
If the employee believes that someone may be in imminent danger or if the incident in question resulted in anyone being physically harmed; the employee must immediately contact the Department of Public Safety. The executive director of Public Safety will notify the Office of Human Resources and will determine if the TAG should be notified and TAG will determine if the situation warrants action by the team.
 
Threat Assessment Group (TAG)
The executive director of Public Safety and the  vice president for Human Resources have established a Threat Assessment Group (TAG) which is composed of selected individuals whose responsibility is to review, investigate, and evaluate incidents of threats, threatening behavior and/or acts of violence in the workplace. The TAG also may serve as a resource to University supervisors and managers in dealing with such situations.
 
The TAG may also make recommendations to department heads and to the vice president for Human Resources as to what preventative or follow-up actions, if any, are warranted by a particular situation. Such actions may include workplace monitoring to reduce the threat of violence, or creating effective strategies for the future.

Contacts

Office of Human Resources
(609) 258-3300
 
Office of Employee Health
(609) 258-5035
 
Office of the General Counsel
(609) 258-2500