• Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is generally considered to be any violence or threat of violence against workers on the job or away from the work site.

Acts of concern can range from verbal threats to homicides, to disruptive behaviors such as interference with or obstruction of campus functions, to behaviors that endanger the health or safety of others, including shouting, use of profanity, waving of arms or fists, or verbal abuse.

Threatening acts can extend from physical actions short of personal contact to implicit threats on campus.

Violent job site behaviors can include physical assaults, other acts people would believe to be potentially violent, or specific threats to inflict physical harm.

Identifying Workplace Violence

University employees, including faculty and staff, can help reduce the opportunities for workplace violence. They can assist in the identification of potentially violent situations and learn how to avoid or defuse the incident. They also need to understand the importance of reporting any safety or security concerns to supervisors as quickly as possible.

You should be alert to behaviors or attitudes that may be indicators of disruptive, threatening, or even violent behaviors. Among the behavior patterns to watch for include the following:

  • recent changes in behavior, appearance, or demeanor
  • work or personal crisis
  • withdrawal from normal activities or contacts
  • challenges to authority
  • substance abuse
  • threats or references to violence or self-harm, history of either
  • possession or fascination with weapons
  • A pattern of attitudes can also be a warning sign. These can include the following:
  • isolation or being a loner
  • feelings of superiority or self-righteousness
  • since of being wronged, humiliated, degraded, or a desire for revenge
  • lack of choices or options short of violence 

Responses to Workplace Violence

Contact the Suffolk University Police at (617)573-8111. Do not attempt to handle a situation on your own. Sometimes, however, you come upon a situation that is potentially violent and you have the opportunity to calm the person down. Here are some steps that will aid in that process:

  • Remain calm. Allowing yourself to become more anxious will only make the other person more anxious. Let them know who you are and acknowledge that they are having a tough time.
  • Be polite, show them respect, and be ready to listen. Letting them vent may relieve some pressure, and it will buy you the time to consider your next move.
  • To the extent that you can, try to continue to communicate with the individual calmly and confidently.
  • If you cannot call, instruct another employee to call. Report your name and location and information on "who, what, where and when."
  • Direct the adversaries to leave the scene of the confrontation. If possible, ask another supervisor to stay with them.
  • Do not physically attempt to get the person to leave. Do not touch the person.
  • If violent behavior is occurring, escape, hide if not already seen, or find cover if injury is likely.
  • Make every possible effort to get others out of the immediate area.
  • Never attempt to disarm or accept a weapon from the person in question.
    If a weapon is involved, calmly ask the person to put it in a neutral location while you continue to talk with him or her. Don't argue, threaten, or block the person's exit.
  • If the violence involves an employee, contact University Police and Human Resources.
  • If the violence involves a student, contact University Police and the Dean of Students.