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Violence in the Workplace

Scope: Applies to all Winston-Salem State University employees.

Purpose: Provide guidelines on addressing workplace violence.


Violence of any sort is contrary to Winston-Salem State University's purpose of providing quality education. This policy is being established as an anti-violence and violence-prevention policy. Violence threatens the safety of personnel (and often the public) while threatening employee morale and productivity. This policy applies to all employees of Winston-Salem State University to include SHRA, EHRA-NT, faculty and temporary employees. In addition, any potentially threatening situation against an employee by a non-employee is to be reported.

Ignoring threats and violence can result in fatal incidents to staff, students or the public. Violence also affects morale, productivity, absenteeism, turnover, litigation costs, workers' compensation costs as well as employment and training costs. Violence often follows established threat patterns and behavioral changes that are easily observed and reasonably predictable. Violence can be prevented or reduced by responding to threats effectively.


Workplace violence includes, but is not limited to intimidation, threats, and physical attack or property damage.

Threat is the expression of intent to cause physical harm. An expression constitutes a threat without regard to whether the party communicating the threat has the present ability to carry it out and without regard to whether the expression is contingent, conditional or future.

Physical attack is unwanted or hostile physical contact such as hitting, fighting, pushing, shoving or throwing objects.

Property damage is intentional damage to property that includes property owned by the State, employees, visitors or vendors.

Intimidation includes but is not limited to stalking or engaging in actions intended to frighten, coerce, or induce duress.

Workplace violence is difficult to predict in terms of specifically which individuals will commit aggressive acts. However, some early warning signs such as sudden personality changes and aggressive behavior may indicate a tendency toward violent behavior. Harassment, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and psychological trauma are examples of violence or threats of violence. Winston-Salem State University hereby adopts a policy of zero tolerance of violence or threats of violence.

Employees may report any incident of workplace violence or any threat of workplace violence to their supervisor, department head, Director of Human Resources, vice-chancellor, University Attorney, members of the Administrative Council or Campus Police.

All employees are encouraged to be alert to the possibility of violence on the part of employees, former employees, and others. Any report of violence will be handled in a confidential manner, with information released only on a need-to-know basis.

The Winston-Salem State University Crisis Management Team shall be responsible for the management of the Violence in the Workplace Program. The Crisis Management Team members shall consist of seven members as follows: Director of Human Resources, University Attorney, Police and Public Safety Director, Director of Counseling Services, a non-supervisory employee from Physical Plant, Media Relations Director, and the Safety Director.

If adverse disciplinary action is taken against a career employee for exhibiting violent activities, the employee in an SHRA position will be given an opportunity to defend himself/herself in accordance with the State of North Carolina Disciplinary Action, Suspension and Dismissal Policy. EHRA-NT employees will be covered by the Winston-Salem State University Personnel Policies for EHRA-NT employees. Faculty employees will be covered by the Winston-Salem State University Personnel Policies for Faculty employees. The accused employee has the right to know the nature of the complaint and confront his or her accuser, particularly when there are no witnesses to verify the allegations of the complaining party.

In protecting the rights of the accused employee, the Chancellor, designee, or Crisis Management Team must limit disclosure of the threat and identity of the perpetrator(s) to involved supervisory personnel and the parties to whom the threats were specifically directed. However, if the threat of harassment is generalized or directed at the entire workplace, the goal of protecting the reputation and confidentiality rights of the perpetrator will be forfeited. Depending upon the magnitude of the threat and probability of its occurrence, the University may be forced to sacrifice the interests of the accused and reveal the nature of the threat and identity of the accused to the entire workplace.

All employees shall be required to sign the Employee Certification form concerning the Violence in the Workplace Program. All new hires will sign the form in the Department of Human Resources as part of the new employee orientation. In addition, every employee and every new employee will receive a copy of the Violence in the Workplace Policy.