Policy Number: 39

Violence Free Workplace

Subject:

Preventing and reporting violence in the workplace

Scope:

All university community members

Date Reviewed: November 2011

Responsible Office: The University of Texas Police Department and Human Resources

Responsible Executive: Chief of Police; Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

I.     POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

It is the policy of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) to maintain an environment free from violence. The university believes that its employees, students, patients, clients and visitors should experience a safe and businesslike environment while in its facilities. Employees, students, patients, clients and visitors are expected to treat everyone in the workplace in a mature and professional manner. The university advocates a campus climate that promotes civility and respect for others.

This policy prohibits direct or indirect threats or acts of violent behavior; makes mandatory the reporting of threats or incidents of violence; and requires cooperation in the investigation of allegations. This policy also prohibits all firearms and other weapons defined as prohibited by the Texas Penal Code on property owned or occupied by the university, except as permitted by Chapter 52, Subchapter G of the Texas Labor Code.

Violations of this policy may lead to disciplinary action up to, and including, termination for employees, discipline and/or dismissal of students, cancellation of contracts with vendors and contractors; refusal of services to patients, clients, and visitors; and, when applicable, the pursuit of criminal actions.

Note: Direct or indirect threats or acts of violent behavior by a patient at The University of Texas Harris County Psychiatric Hospital ("UTHCPC") will be reported and handled through the appropriate UTHCPC Policies & Procedures.

II.     DEFINITIONS

Incident: Any occurrence of perceived violence or threat of violence.

Violence: Includes, but is not limited to, intimidating, threatening or hostile behavior, physical or verbal abuse, harassment, stalking, vandalism, arson, sabotage, use of weapons, possession of weapons on university property, the threat of any of the above, or any other act inconsistent with this policy.

Threats: A communicated intent to inflict physical or other harm on any person or on property. Threats may be oral, written, or physical and typically fall into three categories: Direct, Conditional, or Veiled.

STOP Team: A team of professionals authorized to investigate, make determinations and work with management to take action to resolve incidents of violence. The Team is comprised of representatives from The University of Texas at Houston Police Department (UTPD), Legal Affairs, UT Counseling & WorkLife Services, and Human Resources. The Team has the authority to include, as needed, representatives from other areas.

III.     PROCEDURE

A. Supervisor Responsibility: Supervisors are responsible and accountable for maintaining a work environment free from violence or threats. Supervisors should be aware of warning signs of potentially violent behavior and take appropriate action to address any violations (see HOOP Policies 153 Termination of Employment, 133 Faculty Termination187 Discipline and Dismissal of Classified Employees and 186 Student Conduct and Discipline. This intervention may be through either non-disciplinary procedures (counseling/written warning) or appropriate disciplinary actions.

B. Reporting of Incidents: All incidents, threats of violence or violent acts must be reported to the STOP Line at 713-792-7867 (713-792-STOP).

1. Imminent Threats: In the event of a threat of imminent bodily harm, injury or use of a weapon, the reporting individual should seek protective cover and call 911 immediately. Once the situation is safe, the reporting individual must report the incident to the supervisor. If the supervisor is unavailable, the individual should report the incident to the STOP Line.

2. Non-Imminent Threats: Incidents or acts of violence not involving imminent bodily harm, injuries or weapons should be immediately reported to the supervisor. The supervisor is responsible for reporting the incident to the STOP Line (713-792-STOP).

UTPD will report all STOP Line reports and the outcome, if known, to the STOP Team. The STOP Team will conduct an investigation of the complaint if: 1) the supervisor failed to make a report to the STOP Line or 2) the report is not being adequately addressed by the management within the department where the incident occurred. In such cases, the STOP Team will contact the supervisor(s) and work with the supervisor(s) to assess, investigate, determine violations and make recommendations.

If requested, UT Counseling and WorkLife Services will perform a critical incident stress debriefing with employee(s) affected by any incidence of violence or threat of violence.

C. Court Orders: Employees should notify their supervisors of any applicable court orders against individuals who might appear in the workplace. Upon receipt of this notification, the supervisor should consult with UTPD (713-792-2890).

Prevention

The university strives to prevent violence in the workplace as well as to establish procedures for addressing violence should it occur. Training and timely information is available to the university community through UTPD. The Crime Prevention component of UTPD is available to provide in-depth training to employees in high risk areas upon request. Additionally, UTPD posts timely information regarding campus crime and crime-related problems on its website and distributes an annual crime awareness and campus security data brochure, which is available at kiosks throughout the university campus and from UTPD. The university has also implemented a text message emergency notification system to notify the university community in the event of an imminent threat, crisis or harm. 

Retaliation

The university encourages good faith disclosures related to reports of violence in the workplace and will not tolerate retaliation or threat of retaliation against those who make disclosures of actual or perceived violence or who cooperate in good faith with an investigation of such allegations. (Refer to HOOP Policy 108 Protection from Retaliation.) "Good faith" denotes the person making the disclosure believes it to be true and a reasonable person could believe the disclosure to be true based on available factual information. Acts or threats of retaliation in response to such disclosures may subject the person retaliating to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Persons making disclosures with reckless disregard for the truth or in willful ignorance of the facts may be subjected to disciplinary action.

IV.     CONTACTS

ContactTelephoneEmail/Web Address
The University of Texas Police Department 713-563-7794 http://www.mdanderson.org/utpd/
Human Resources 713-500-3130 http://hr.uth.tmc.edu/Employee_Relations/employee_relations.html