Keyword Search

Search by Policy Sequence

Workplace Violence

  • Last Updated: 05/01/2013
  • Effective Date:

Policy Statement

The University of Georgia (“the University”) is committed to the prevention of workplace violence and the maintenance of a respectful working environment. A safe and secure environment is a fundamental prerequisite for fulfilling the University mission of teaching, research and public service. The University reaffirms the basic right of employees to a safe and humane working environment. Every employee will be treated at all times with dignity, respect, and fairness.

Prohibited Conduct
The University will not tolerate any type of workplace violence committed by or against employee.  Workplace violence, for the purpose of this policy includes, but is not limited to: intimidation, bullying, stalking, threats, physical attack, property damage, or domestic and family violence. This includes acts of violence committed by or against University employees. Such incidents may also involve students, clients, visitors or vendors.

Violations
To make deliberate false accusations of workplace violence violates this policy. In such instances, the complainant will be subject to disciplinary action. However, failure to prove a claim of workplace violence does not constitute proof of a false and/or malicious accusation.

Employees who, in good faith, report what they believe to be workplace violence or who cooperate in any investigation will not be subjected to retaliation. Any employee who believes he/she has been the victim of retaliation for reporting workplace violence or cooperating in an investigation should immediately contact the Faculty and Staff Relations Team in the Human Resources Division (706-542-2222).

Procedures

Purpose of Guidelines AND PROCEDURES

As stated in the UGA Workplace Violence Policy, the University is committed to providing a workplace that is free from violence by establishing preventative measures, by holding perpetrators of violence accountable, and by providing assistance and support to victims.  These Guidelines and Procedures are intended to provide specificity in the handling of complaints and incidents.

Whether on-duty or off-duty, violent acts affect the ability of all employees to perform their jobs.  The University will apply all useful management tools to accomplish the dual purpose of reducing the effects of violence on victims and the University community as well as hold perpetrators of violence accountable for their actions.  The University Human Resources’ Office of Faculty and Staff Relations (F&SR) and the University of Georgia Police Department (UGAPD) have been designated to provide services to workplace violence victims.

APPLICABILITY OF GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES

The University’s Workplace Violence applies to all faculty, staff, administrators, supervisors, employees, the student body, athletes, volunteers and visitors to campus. This includes guests, patrons, independent contractors, or clients of the University of Georgia. This Policy prohibits workplace violence in any University education program or activity, which means all academic, research, educational, public service & outreach, extracurricular, athletic and other programs.

Faculty, staff, administrators, supervisors, employees, volunteers and students who feel they have experienced prohibited behavior/conduct, as defined by this Policy while participating in off-campus programs and activities should immediately report such incidents to the program director or F&SR. Off-campus programs and activities are covered by this Policy and include, but are not limited to, study abroad programs, internships, student teaching and applied learning experiences.

Non-University visitors, guests, patrons, independent contractors or clients who fail to address prohibited behavior/conduct behavior  of administrators, faculty, staff, supervisors, volunteers, students or employees of which they know or should have known (by their personnel on premises under their control) may be subject to whatever sanctions the relationship with the organization permits.

The Workplace is defined as the work setting in general, including any University education program or activity, which means all academic, research, educational, public service & outreach, extracurricular, athletic and other programs. 

EXAMPLES OF PROHIBITED ACTIONS AND SANCTIONS

It is a violation of the UGA Violence in Workplace Policy to:

  • Engage in workplace violence as defined by this policy
  • Possess, use, or threaten to use an unauthorized weapon as defined by this policy
  • Misuse authority vested to any employee of the University in such a way that it violates this policy
  • Engage in off-duty prohibited behavior/conduct that has a potential adverse impact on the University and its employees, students, clients, visitors, or vendors

A violation of the UGA Violence in Workplace Policy shall be considered unacceptable personal conduct as provided in the disciplinary policies applicable to the employee’s appointment type. Acts of violence, as defined herein, may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

An act of off-duty prohibited behavior/conduct may be covered by this policy and may also be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. In these situations, department management, in consultation with the appropriate University administrative unit must demonstrate that the disciplinary action is supported by the existence of a significant correlation between the type of prohibited behavior/conduct committed and the potential adverse impact on the University and its employees, students, clients, visitors, and vendors.

Employee Threat Assessment and Response Team (ETART)

The University has developed an Employee Threat Assessment and Response Team (ETART) that will assess and respond to immediate and potential acts of workplace violence. The team’s core group is composed of representatives from F&SR, UGAPD, the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) and Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS). The team may consult with the organizational unit with administrative oversight for the appointment type of the perpetrator and the victim as well as other auxiliary members, as necessary. The team will be responsible for receiving threat reports, conducting thorough assessments, determining appropriate responses, tracking and reporting workplace violence information, and conducting related training.

Depending on the severity of the threat, a formal investigation may be required.  UGAPD will conduct criminal investigations, if necessary.  F&SR will conduct workplace violence investigations. Threat assessments will consider all details relevant to the threat and will assess the totality of circumstances when determining an appropriate action.

For more information and examples of immediate and/or potential threats, please see “Workplace Violence Reference Guide” link below.

SUPPORT AND PROTECTIONS

The University will make efforts to protect victims of workplace violence by offering all feasible security measures. Victims may also need special accommodations or adjustments to their work schedule, work location or working conditions in order to enhance their safety. The University will accommodate these requests and needs whenever possible and appropriate. The University will work closely with victims to assure that both the needs of the victims and the University are addressed.

  • Support to Victims

Management is expected to offer reasonable support to victims of workplace violence, which includes domestic and family violence, whenever feasible. In addition, management shall grant a victim the use of available paid leave, accumulated paid time off, leave without pay, and/or flexible work scheduling for medical, court, or counseling appointments related to trauma and/or victimization. Employees can also use Family & Medical Leave if eligible.

  • Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression

The University is committed to protecting, maintaining and encouraging both freedom of expression and full academic freedom of inquiry, teaching, service, and research.  However, these freedoms come with a responsibility that all members of the education community benefit from these freedoms without intimidation.  In recognition and support of academic freedom for faculty in the pursuit of teaching, academic freedom and freedom of expression shall be strongly considered in investigating and reviewing complaints and reports of workplace violence.  However, raising issues of academic freedom and freedom of expression will not excuse behavior that constitutes a violation of the law or the University’s Violence in the Workplace Policy.

  • Supervisory Relationships

No individual who is in a position of authority over another, either in the employment or educational context, has the authority to engage in or allow prohibited behavior/conduct as defined by this Policy by virtue of his or her role.  The University does not in any way; expressly or impliedly condone prohibited behavior/conduct by a person in a position of authority or a supervisor.  Furthermore, a supervisor who does not appropriately handle reports or incidents of prohibited behavior/conduct, or who does not report incidents about which he/she becomes aware to the F&SR, may be subject to disciplinary action.

PROCESSING OF REPORTS AND COMPLAINTS

  • Timeline for Reporting and Confidentiality

Complaints and reports of workplace violence should be reported as soon as possible after the incident(s) in order to be most effectively investigated. All reports and complaints of workplace violence will be promptly investigated and appropriate action will be taken as expeditiously as possible. The University will make reasonable efforts to protect the rights of both the complainant and the respondent. The University will respect the privacy of the complainant, the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed, and the witnesses in a manner consistent with the University’s legal obligations to investigate, to take appropriate action, and to comply with any discovery or disclosure obligations required by law.

An informal complaint may be investigated without identifying the complainant, if in the judgment of F&SR this would increase the likelihood of satisfactory resolution of the complaint. While confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, care will be taken to keep investigation discussions sufficiently broad to protect the complainant’s identity when requested.

The University reserves the right to investigate and resolve a complaint or report of workplace violence regardless of whether the complainant ultimately desires the University to pursue the complaint. In such cases, the parties shall be informed of the status of the investigation at reasonable times until the University’s final disposition of the investigation.

  • Responsibility of Students and Employees

All students and employees should report any workplace violence that they experience and/or observe to F&SR. No student or employee should assume that an official of the University of Georgia knows about a particular situation. The University encourages any person who feels he or she has been or may be the victim of workplace violence to promptly report the incident to F&SR and/or the UGAPD. Any student, faculty member, or employee who knows of, or receives a complaint of workplace violence should report the information or complaint to a supervisor, F&SR and/or the UGAPD.  

In addition, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs oversees the UGA Behavioral Assessment & Response Council (BARC). BARC is a group of key administrators who assess and determine the appropriate response to students who exhibit threatening behavior to self and/or others.

  • Responsibility of Supervisors and Administrators

Any administrator or supervisor who knows of, or receives a complaint of workplace violence must report the information or complaint to F&SR in a timely manner

  • Investigation and Resolution

The University’s complaint process, outlined herein, is the procedure used to end inappropriate behavior and prevent any recurrence; to investigate the factual situation; and to facilitate resolution of complaints involving allegations of workplace violence. As part of the complaint process, and if appropriate, F&SR may recommend that the complainant and respondent attempt to resolve their differences through mediation or through the grievance process as stated in the University of Georgia’s Dispute Resolution Policy.

  • Process

If a complainant is able and feels safe, he or she should clearly explain to the alleged offender that the prohibited behavior is objectionable and request that it cease. If the complainant is not able or does not feel safe confronting the alleged offender, or the prohibited behavior does not stop, or if the complainant believes some adverse employment or educational consequences may result from the discussion, he or she should contact F&SR or, for employees of the University, the next higher level of supervision to document the complaint. The supervisor must report the complaint to F&SR. When deemed appropriate, F&SR will work with the supervisor to facilitate a resolution of workplace violence complaints at the local level.

F&SR must be contacted in order to initiate a complaint. The complaint should be brought as soon as possible after the most recent incident. F&SR will:

  • determine whether the complaint is one which should be processed through another University dispute resolution procedure, such as mediation or grievance hearing, available to the complainant; and if appropriate, F&SR shall refer the complainant to that procedure(s) as soon as possible;
  • inform the individual of the provisions of the workplace violence complaint procedures and provide a copy of the complaint procedure;
  • inform the person against whom the complaint is brought, of its existence;
  • obtain information and evidence, including the identity of any witnesses, from the complainant and the respondent;
  • attempt to obtain information from the identified witnesses;
  • maintain appropriate documentation; and
  • disclose appropriate information to others only on a need-to-know basis consistent with state and federal law.

During this process, F&SR will keep the supervisor/administrator informed of the status of the complaint and will seek input from the appropriate supervisor/administrator when implementing corrective action.

  • Investigative Data

During the investigation, F&SR will keep private the information gathered during the investigation to the extent permitted by state and federal law. F&SR shall exercise due care in sharing identifiable information about students, staff, faculty or others involved.

ACTIONS AND APPEALS

  • Summary Action

The President or his/her designee may impose a summary suspension prior to the completion of the investigation and resolution of a complaint. However, a summary suspension may be imposed only when, in the judgment of the President, or his/her designee, the accused individual’s presence on campus would constitute a threat to the safety and well-being of members of the campus community. Before implementing the summary suspension, the accused individual shall be given written notice of the intention to impose the summary suspension and shall be given an opportunity to present oral and written arguments against the imposition of the suspension. If the accused individual is summarily suspended, the formal process should be completed within the shortest reasonable time period possible, normally not to exceed ten (10) working days. During the summary suspension, the accused individual may not enter the campus without obtaining prior written permission from F&SR and/or the UGAPD.

  • University Action

The amount of time needed to conduct an investigation will depend in part on the nature of the allegation(s) and the evidence to be investigated (e.g., the number and/or availability of witnesses involved). Within 60 days of receipt of the complaint, F&SR will provide notice of the outcome of the investigation or will advise the parties of the additional estimated amount of time needed for the investigation. Upon conclusion, F&SR will notify the complainant and respondent, in writing, of the results of the investigation. In the event the investigation reveals that a violation of the workplace policy has occurred or other inappropriate or unprofessional conduct (even if not unlawful) has occurred, the University may take disciplinary action. Written notice to parties relating to discipline, resolutions, and/or final dispositions is deemed to be official correspondence from the University. The University will take the appropriate remedial action based on results of the investigation and will follow up as appropriate to ensure that the remedial action is effective. Complainants are encouraged to report any reoccurrences of conduct that were found to violate the Violence in the Workplace Policy.

  • Right to Appeal

Either party shall have the right to appeal the outcome of the F&SR’s/designee’s investigation and decision to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources (AVPHR) pursuant to this policy. In exercising the right of appeal to the AVPHR as provided by this procedure, a written appeal must be received by the Office of the AVPHR within ten (10) working days after the date of the written notification of the decision that is being appealed. The AVPHR or his/her designee may in his/her sole discretion extend the time for an appeal. The AVPHR or his/her designee may receive additional information if he/she believes such information would aid in the appeal. A decision by the AVPHR or his/her designee and in consult with the respective Vice President will be made within a reasonable time and F&SR, the complainant, and the respondent will be notified in writing of the decision on the appeal. During the time of appeal and review, disciplinary action, if any, taken as a result of the original complaint, may be implemented and enforced.

PROHIBITION AGAINST RETALIATION

All employees are encouraged to be alert to the possibility of workplace violence on the part of employees, former employees, students, clients, visitors or vendors and shall report all acts of workplace violence and threats of violence to University administration as provided in this policy.

Anyone who, in good faith, reports what s/he believes to be workplace violence, or who participates or cooperates in any investigation, will not be subjected to retaliation. Anyone who believes he or she has been the victim of retaliation for reporting workplace violence or for participating or cooperating in an investigation should immediately contact F&SR. Any person found to have retaliated against a person who has participated or cooperated in an investigation will be in violation of this policy and will be subject to disciplinary action.

VIOLATIONS OF THE POLICY OR GUIDELINES

The University will not tolerate acts of workplace violence against its faculty, staff, administrators, supervisors, students, visitors, employees and/or volunteers and will investigate all allegations. Where workplace violence is found, steps will be taken to end it immediately. In those instances where it is determined that an individual has engaged in workplace violence against another, that individual will be subject to appropriate discipline. The level of discipline will depend on the severity of the behavior and may include, but is not limited to, probation or termination.

To make deliberate false accusations of workplace violence violates this policy. In such instances, the complainant will be subject to disciplinary action. However, failure to prove a claim of workplace violence does not constitute proof of a false and/or malicious accusation.

Other violations of this policy may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Retaliation against a person who has made a report or filed a complaint alleging workplace violence or participated as a witness in an investigation.
  • Disregarding or delaying investigation of allegations of workplace violence when responsibility for reporting workplace violence is part of one’s supervisory duties.

QUESTIONS

If you have questions about this policy, contact UGA Human Resources’ Faculty & Staff Relations at (706) 542-2222.


Additional Contacts

UGA Police: 706-542-2200

Policy Definitions

DEFINITIONS OF PROHIBITED BEHAVIOR/CONDUCT

  • Workplace violence includes, but is not limited to: intimidation, bullying, stalking, threats, physical attack, property damage, or domestic and family violence. This includes acts of violence committed by or against University employees. Such incidents may also involve students, clients, visitors or vendors. These behaviors are characterized by aggression that damage workplace relationships to the point of disrupting organizational functions.
  • Bullying is unwanted offensive and malicious behavior that undermines an individual or group through persistently negative attacks. The behavior generally includes an element of vindictiveness, and is intended to undermine, patronize, humiliate, intimidate or demean the recipient.
  • Intimidation includes but is not limited to unwarranted behavior intended to frighten, coerce, or induce duress.
  • Physical attack is unwanted or hostile physical contact including but not limited to hitting, fighting, shoving, restraining, or throwing objects.
  • Property damage is intentional damage to property and includes property owned by the University or by employees, students, clients, visitors or vendors.
  • Stalking involves harassing or pestering an individual in person, in writing, by telephone or an electronic format. Stalking also involves following an individual, spying on them, alarming the recipient, or causing them distress and may involve physical violence or the fear of physical violence.
  • Threat is the expression of intent to cause physical or mental harm. An expression constitutes a threat without regard to whether the party communicating the threat has the present ability to carry out the threat and without regard to whether the expression is contingent, conditional, or future.
  • Domestic, Relationship, and Family Violence is the use of abusive or violent behavior, including threats and intimidation, between people who have an ongoing or a prior intimate relationship (including people who are married, live together or date, or who have been married, lived together or dated) or between family members.
  • Weapons are any objects that may be used to intimidate, attack, or injure another person or to damage property.  http://www.police.uga.edu/weapons.html
Responsibilities

Responsible University Senior Administrator:  Vice President for Finance & Administration

Responsible University Administrator: Associate Vice President for Human Resources

Policy Owner: hrweb@uga.edu

Policy Contact: Sige Burden

Phone Number: 706-542-9231