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Workplace Violence

From Appalachian State University Policy Manual

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Policy 602.32

1 Introduction

1.1 In accordance with the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers have an obligation to provide employees with a safe and healthy work environment. Consistent with that law and with the law and policies of the State of North Carolina, Appalachian State University (“the University” or “ASU”) is committed to provide 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. A Threat Assessment Team has been established to assess both immediate and potential threats of violence, including threats that could potentially impact the University workplace. Any form of Workplace Violence as defined in this policy may be cause for disciplinary sanctions, up to and including dismissal. Violent acts, whether on-duty or off-duty, 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 holding perpetrators of violence accountable for their actions. Office of Human Resources, Office of the Provost, ASU Police, Counseling for Faculty & Staff, Dean of Students, and Counseling & Psychological Services are resources for victims of Workplace Violence.

2 Scope

2.1 This policy applies to all ASU employees regardless of appointment type, including ASU students who are employees of the University. This policy applies to employees while functioning in the course and scope of their employment as well as off-duty violent conduct that has a potential adverse impact on any University employee’s ability to perform his or her assigned duties and responsibilities.

2.2 Acts of violence by vendors, contractors, visitors, and other non-ASU employees have the potential to negatively affect the University workplace. Although such individuals are not subject to sanctions under this policy, they may be referred to their employer and/or to criminal or civil authorities for appropriate action.

2.3 The University administrative unit responsible for providing guidance to management for each appointment is listed below:

Employee Appointment Administrative Unit to Consult
SPA and EPA Non-Faculty Office of Human Resources
SPA and EPA Non-Faculty Temporary Employees Office of Human Resources
Faculty Office of the Provost
Student Employees Office of Student Employment and

Office of Student Conduct

The Office of General Counsel is responsible for advising all institutional officials regarding the legal interpretation and application of this policy.

3 Definitions

3.1 Bullying

Includes, but is not limited to, any repeated, aggressive behavior, by any means, intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.

3.2 Domestic Violence

Is any asserted violent misdemeanor and felony offense committed by the victim’s current or former spouse, or cohabitant, or anyone protected under North Carolina domestic or family violence laws. Domestic Violence includes the use of abusive or violent behavior, including threats and intimidation, between people who have an ongoing or prior intimate relationship. This could include people who are married, live together, or date; or people who have previously been married, lived together, or dated.

3.3 Intimidation

Any act, by any means that places another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct. Includes, but is not limited to, stalking or other behavior intended to frighten, coerce, or induce stress.

3.4 Physical Attack

Is unwanted or hostile physical contact such as hitting, fighting, pushing, using a weapon, shoving or throwing objects.

3.5 Property Damage

Is intentional damage to property and includes property owned by Appalachian State University employees, students, visitors, or vendors.

3.6 Stalking

Any course of conduct, by any means, that is directed at a specific person and would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety. Includes harassing or pestering an individual, on more than one occasion, by any means directed at that person that causes the person emotional distress or fear of death, physical harm, or repeated harassment.

3.7 Threat

Is the expression, by any means, of intent to cause physical harm or mental 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.

3.8 Weapon

Any firearm or other dangerous weapon, implement or means, whereby the life of a person is endangered or threatened. For a complete listing see North Carolina General Statute 14-269.2

3.9 Workplace Violence

Includes, but is not limited to, bullying, domestic violence, intimidation, physical attack, property damage, stalking, or threats, that affects the University workplace.

4 Policy and Procedure Statements

4.1 Prohibited Actions

It is a violation of this policy to:

4.1.1 Engage in Workplace Violence as defined in this policy;

4.1.2 Fail to investigate a report of a threat of Workplace Violence or an incident of Workplace Violence as defined in this policy;

4.1.3 Use, possess, or threaten to use a weapon against a member of the University during a time covered by this policy; and

4.1.4 Misuse authority vested in any employee of the University in such a way that it violates this policy.

4.2 Sanctions

4.2.1 Violations of this policy shall be considered unacceptable personal conduct and shall result in discipline, up to and including dismissal, as outlined in the Disciplinary Actions, Suspension, and Dismissal Policy and Faculty Handbook.

4.2.2 An act of off-duty violent conduct may also be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. In these situations, the University must demonstrate that the disciplinary action, sanction, suspension, or dismissal is supported by the existence of a rational relationship between the type of violent conduct committed and the potential adverse impact on an employee’s ability to perform the assigned duties and responsibilities.

4.2.3 Student employees who are subject to sanctions under this policy also will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and may also be subject to discipline pursuant to the Code of Student Conduct.

4.3 Authorized Exceptions to Policy

An employee or student may possess a weapon (NC General Statutes 14-269.2) in the scope of their employment if possession is:

4.3.1 In compliance with North Carolina law;

4.3.2 Used by an employee who is a certified Law Enforcement Officer;

4.3.3 Required as part of the employee’s or student’s job duties with the State of North Carolina; or

4.3.4 Connected with training received by the employee or student in order to perform the responsibilities of their job with the State of North Carolina.

4.3.5 For students involved with University ROTC and who handle weapons, the Commander of the unit will ensure that all State and University policies are followed for appropriate weapon possession and use.

4.4 Retaliation and False Reports

4.4.1 Employees or students who act in good faith by reporting real or apparent violent behavior or violations of this policy may not be subjected to harassment or other retaliation.

4.4.2 Employees (including student employees) who feel they have been retaliated against for having reported a policy violation or who are the subject of harassment may initiate a grievance through the SPA Grievance and Appeals Policy. EPA Non-Faculty employees may initiate a grievance through the EPA Non-Faculty Grievances Policy. Faculty members may access grievance rights as outlined in the Faculty Handbook. Students may file through the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Compliance and will follow the policy and procedures of the Harassment and Discrimination Policy.

4.4.3 False or misleading claims of violence that have been filed deliberately with the intention to harass or that are frivolous or an abuse of the violence reporting process shall be considered acts of unacceptable personal conduct and may be subject to disciplinary action or sanctions, up to and including dismissal.

4.5 Reporting Responsibilities

All employees at Appalachian State University are encouraged to be alert to the possibility of violence on the part of employees, former employees, students, customers and strangers. Employees and students shall place safety as their highest concern. To address incidents of Workplace Violence and to insure speedy and effective resolution of these incidents, the University has established the following process:

4.5.1 If an imminent threat to safety is perceived, the Appalachian State University Police Department should be called immediately. Otherwise, when a University employee or student experiences or has knowledge of Workplace Violence, the first action is to immediately inform the appropriate supervisor or department chair. If an act of violence has recently occurred or there is an imminent perception that one could occur, the supervisor or department chair will call the Police Department first. If no immediate threat is present, then the supervisor or department chair will investigate the situation, with caution and safety as first concerns, or seek assistance from Human Resources, Office of the Provost, Dean of Students Office or Police Department. If a supervisor or department chair is not present, or the reporter of the violence is not comfortable reporting the incident to a supervisor or department chair, contact Human Resources, Office of the Provost, or in cases involving students, the Dean of Students Office or ASU Police Department.

4.5.2 The Police Department is available to assist in response to Workplace Violence and may be contacted by any University employee or student at any time in the process. The Police Department may be contacted by calling 8000 on campus or if an imminent threat is perceived, call 911.

4.5.3 When University personnel respond to an incident of Workplace Violence and determine that no imminent threat to safety exists, the supervisor, department chair, or other designated individual involved will obtain information in order to complete a report that will be forwarded to the appropriate administrative unit. If the situation involves violence or harassment against someone in a protected class, then the appropriate administrative unit will immediately forward the information to the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Compliance for further investigation. If the situation involves a Clery Act reportable crime (see University Policy 301.4 for list of Clery reportable crimes), the information must be reported to the University Police in a timely manner.

4.5.4 If it is determined that university employees involved in Workplace Violence need assistance beyond intervention at the scene, they may be referred to Counseling for Faculty and Staff or, in the case of a student, to Counseling & Psychological Services.

4.5.5 Threat Assessment – The university has developed a Threat Assessment Team that will assess and respond to immediate and potential acts of Workplace Violence. The Team is composed of representatives from key University areas. The Team may consult with the administrative unit having administrative oversight for the appointment types of the perpetrator and the victim, as well as other auxiliary members. 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 upon the severity of the threat, a formal investigation may be required. University Police will conduct criminal investigations, if necessary. The appropriate administrative unit will conduct Workplace Violence investigations unless the acts are perceived to be based against protected class employees, in which case the investigation will be handled through the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Compliance. Threat assessments will consider all details relevant to the threat and will assess the totality of circumstances when determining an appropriate action.

4.6 Notice of Emergency Non-Isolated Violent Acts on Campus

In the event it is determined that a Workplace Violence act is not isolated and could endanger other faculty, staff, and students, the Appstate Alert system will be activated with appropriate measures taken to ensure the safety of the campus community. Emergency procedures are outlined at

4.7 Support and Protections

4.7.1 The university will make efforts to protect victims of Workplace Violence by offering reasonable security measures. Victims may also need special accommodations or adjustments to their work schedules, work locations, or working conditions in order to enhance their safety. ASU will accommodate these requests and needs whenever appropriate and practicable. ASU will work closely with victims to assure that both the needs of the victims and the University are addressed.

4.7.2 The university will offer reasonable support to victims of Workplace Violence. This support may include encouragement of the victim to use the services of Counseling for Faculty and Staff, or Student Counseling & Psychological Services.

4.7.3 In addition, the university shall consider whether to 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.

4.7.4 Under the circumstances defined in the North Carolina Workplace Violence Prevention Act, NCGS §95-260 et seq., the university, in its sole discretion, may seek a civil no-contact order on behalf of an employee who has suffered “unlawful conduct” has defined in the Act. The university must comply with all provisions of that Act, which is available only when the unlawful conduct can reasonably be construed to be carried out, or to have been carried out, in the university workplace.

5 Additional References

6 Authority

7 Contact Information

8 Effective Date

9 Revision Dates