Policy Number: 39

Violence Free Workplace

Subject:

Preventing and reporting violence in the workplace

Scope:

All university community members

Date Reviewed: June 2014

Responsible Office: The University of Texas Police Department; Human Resources; Office of Academic and Research Affairs

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

I.     POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

It is the policy of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) to maintain a safe and businesslike environment free from violence. Employees, students, residents, patients, clients, vendors, contractors and visitors are expected to treat everyone in the workplace and on campus with civility, respect and professionalism.

This policy prohibits direct or indirect threats or acts of violence or hostility; 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 and Chapter 411, Subchapter H of the Texas Government 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, verbal or non-verbal behavior that can be construed as intimidating, threatening or hostile, 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: An intent to inflict physical or other harm on any person or self or on property. Threats may be oral, written, or physical and typically fall into three categories: Direct, Conditional, or Veiled.

UTHealth workplace: includes all university facilities and off-campus locations where faculty, students, staff, agents or contractors are engaged in university business or activities.

STOP Team: A team of professionals authorized to investigate, make determinations and work with management to take action to prevent and 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 and Wellness Services, Human Resources and the Office of Academic and Research Affairs. The Team has the authority to include, as needed, representatives from other areas. The STOP Team has the authority to oversee and manage activities and program(s) to effectively ensure university-wide initiatives to prevent, detect and respond to behavioral risks and threats.

The STOP Team serves as the Behavioral Assessment Team for UTHealth with the the following roles:                                     

III.     PROCEDURE

     A. Responsibilities

1. Supervisors and faculty are responsible and accountable for setting the example and maintaining work and educational environments free from violence or threats. Supervisors and faculty should be alert for 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, 186 Student Conduct and Discipline and 163 Fitness for Duty/Fitness for Participation). This intervention may be through either non-disciplinary procedures (counseling/written warning) or appropriate disciplinary actions.

2. Employees, students, residents, patients, clients, vendors, contractors and visitors are responsible for conducting themselves in accordance with this and other applicable policies.

     B. Reporting of Incidents

All incidents, threats of violence, violent acts or other behavioral risks must be reported as follows:

          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 their supervisor, the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education (if related to residents). If the supervisor, appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education 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 appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education. The supervisor, appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education 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/incident if: (1) the supervisor, the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education failed to make a report to the STOP Line; (2) the report is not being adequately addressed by the management within the department where the incident occurred; or (3) the STOP team has additional relevant information that may not be available to an individual supervisor, Dean of Student Affairs or other responsible individuals. In such cases, the STOP Team will contact the supervisor(s),the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or Office of Graduate Medical Education, and work with the supervisor(s), the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or Office of Graduate Medical Education to assess, investigate, determine violations and make recommendations.

If requested, UT Counseling, WorkLife and Wellness Services or Student Counseling may schedule stress debriefing with an employee(s), resident(s) and/or student(s) affected by any incidence of violence or threat of violence.

Even without the existence of an actual threat or act of violence, employees, students and residents should report to the supervisor, appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education any behavior that they regard as threatening.

     C. Court Orders

Employees, students and residents should notify their supervisors, the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education of any applicable protective or peace orders against individuals who might appear in the workplace or on campus. Upon receipt of this notification, the supervisor, appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education should consult with UTPD (713-792-2890).

     D. 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 are 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 online 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. 

Managers are encouraged to refer employees who exhibit behaviors that may lead to violent behavior or threats (e.g., job stress, inappropriate anger), or who may have been the victim of an assault to the Employee Assistance Program.

Faculty are encouraged to refer students and residents who exhibit behaviors indicating unusual stress or anger, or who may have been the victim of an assault to the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs, Office of Graduate Medical Education or Student Counseling.

     E. 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, up to and including termination.

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
STOP Team 713-792-7867 (713-792-STOP)
Office of Academic and Research Affairs

713-500-3062

http://www.uthouston.edu/evpara/personnel.htm