Supervisors can help prevent workplace violence before it starts
Old Dominion University Policy 6501 - Workplace Violence Prevention defines workplace violence as Any physical assault, threatening behavior, prohibited conduct or verbal abuse occurring in the workplace on property owned or controlled by the University.
This policy defines prohibited conduct as behaviors including, but not limited to, intentionally:
- Injuring another person physically;
- Engaging in written, electronic, verbal, or physical behavior that creates a reasonable fear of injury to an identifiable person;
- Engaging in written, electronic, verbal, or physical behavior that subjects an identifiable individual to extreme emotional distress; ▪
- Defacing or damaging property; ▪ Threatening to injure an individual or to damage property;
- Committing injurious or threatening acts related to sexual misconduct, stalking, dating, or domestic violence or sexual harassment;
- Brandishing a weapon or firearm; and
- Retaliating against any individual who, in good faith, reports a violation of this policy.
Employees have reported feeling threatened, intimidated, stressed, disrespected, and/or embarrassed by behaviors such as:
- unpredictable mood swings causing "walking on eggshells"
- criticism given in front of others
- statements about job security/jeopardy
- directions being given in the form of demands/commands
- damage to personal property in the employee's work area
- statements about not being first choice of the recruitment/selection committee
- not receiving information/answers to questions needed to perform assigned work
- not receiving notification of required meetings
- yelling/screaming, angry outbursts or angry slamming of a hand or a door
Department heads, directors, and supervisors are responsible for responding to complaints of prohibited conduct, communicating the policy to all employees under their supervision, ensuring that facilities are as safe as feasible, identifying and providing violence prevention training to employees as appropriate, and ensuring that all employees are aware of how to report potential threats.
In addition to being highly ineffective communication and/or supervision, the behaviors in BOTH of the bulleted lists above are inappropriate and/or prohibited in the ODU workplace. Employees who are found to use these behaviors are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination depending on the situation.
One challenge for supervisors is to recognize and respond timely and appropriately to all concerns of this nature that are reported to you. Reported behaviors may be subtle; the employee sharing the concern is likely to be upset or emotional. Sometimes immediate relief needs to be arranged for the reporting employee. Information needs to be gathered and the employee is often concerned about retaliation.
Get Employee Relations Help
The HR Employee Relations Team is available to partner with you to identify resources, address, and remedy these difficult situations. Submit a Consultation Request form with a brief summary of your situation, and we will respond to your request within 48 hours.
University Policy 6501
Workplace Violence Prevention
Report Concerning Behavior
ODU Police Department
Guidelines & Procedure