4-OP-C-10 Workplace Violence Guidelines

Responsible Executive:​  Finance and Administration

Approving Official: Vice President for Finance & Administration

Effective Date: January 1, 2014

Last Revision Date: Unrevised at this time.



  • Florida State University has a moral obligation and legal duty to provide a safe workplace for all its employee groups (Faculty, A&P, USPS, OPS) as well as for its student body and guests. To prevent loss of life and injuries, and to limit financial losses and potential legal liability, the University has developed the following guidelines and concomitant procedures to prevent violence from occurring in the workplace.
  • These guidelines and procedures are not intended to supersede existing statutory law or sections of the Regulations of Florida State University (Regulations), to be cited subsequently, as those sections pertain to violent acts, sanctions for such acts, due process, and grievance/appeal procedures. However, there currently exists no comprehensive and uniform effort at the University that: clearly defines violent acts; establishes standard reporting procedures; identifies individuals who shall be responsible for reviewing and assessing violent incidents and the circumstances surrounding them; identifies individuals who shall be responsible for recommending sanctions and other courses of action pertaining to employees who have committed or threatened to commit acts of violence on the campus; and develops means to curtail future and potential incidents of violence through training, education, and surveys.
  • Therefore, the express purpose of the following guidelines and procedures is to reduce the risk of workplace violence at the University by developing comprehensive and acceptable methods that will close the gaps and resolve the problems as cited in the immediate paragraph above.


  • Florida State University is committed to maintaining and enhancing an environment that is conducive to safe working, learning, and living for all members of the institutional community. The University must have an environment in which all faculty, staff, students, and guests can study, live, and work without intimidation or fear.
  • In view of this commitment, it is the policy of Florida State University that acts of violence, threats of violence, and behavior meant to intimidate others is strictly prohibited. Such prohibition is in effect when: the act, behavior, or communication is abusive and could cause another person physical, emotional, or psychological harm; and/or the act, behavior, or communication threatens damage to the University's or another's property; and/or when the act, behavior, or communication disrupts the education, work, or sense of well-being of an individual or group of individuals.
  • In sum, these guidelines and subsequent procedures are aimed at dealing with workplace violence in a preventative fashion with multiple foci on education, assessment, and consultation. In the alternative, if and when violent incidents occur, university officials will view workplace violence as a most serious type of misconduct that will result in stringent disciplinary sanctions (in accordance with appropriate statutory law and administrative rules) up to and including termination of employment and criminal prosecution for incidents concerning employees, and up to and including expulsion from the University and criminal prosecution for incidents occurring between students and employees.
      1. These guidelines and related procedures cover all individuals employed by the University (Faculty, A&P, USPS, and OPS) and the student population.
      1. Definitions from Florida Statutes, Florida Administrative Code, State University System, Florida State University and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are contained in Appendix A.
      2. Guidelines Interpretation. Any party employed by or attending Florida State University who commits any violent, potentially violent, or abusive act, as defined by F. S., FSU Regulations, or OSHA, towards another student, employee or guest of the University shall be subject to the procedures of these Guidelines.
      1. In addition to the definitions of violent, potentially violent, and abusive behaviors as discussed in Section IV, these Guidelines shall also be concerned with behaviors, physical and verbal, that may not appear to be violent, potentially violent, or abusive prima facie. Such behaviors that do not fall within the purview of the definitions in Appendix A, yet may be viewed as precursors to violent behavior and/or have the tendency to interfere with a harmonious work environment or with an individual's work performance, shall be deemed as "fitness for duty" issues. Any supervisor who believes that one of his/her subordinate employees is exhibiting behaviors that reflect negatively on the employee or upon his or her "fitness for duty" at the University, is encouraged to discuss such behavior with the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and/or Personnel Services. Examples of "fitness for duty" behaviors may include, but are not limited to:
        1. Expression of bizarre and inappropriate thoughts. 
        2. Excessive absenteeism without prior approval or rationale. 
        3. Degenerating physical appearance. 
        4. Acts of insubordination. 
        5. Poor work performance. 
        6. Poor workplace relationships with others. 
        7. Indications of alcohol/substance abuse. 
        8. Excessive complaining.
      2. The discussing of such employee behavior(s) with the EAP shall in no way be construed as to negate or interfere with normal university disciplinary processes as defined by FSU Regulation FSU-4.070, for USPS and A&P employees not covered by any collective bargaining agreements; Section 6C-5.950 for all employees with permanent or tenured status; Section 7.11.2, "Termination of Contract for Cause," Faculty Handbook; and Article VI, University Constitution and Senate Bylaws, and FSU Regulation FSU -4.0335 for faculty.
      1. All university employees and registered students, regardless of position, are responsible for the immediate reporting of any acts of violence, potential acts of violence, or threats they have received or witnessed, or have been told that another employee has witnessed or received. Employees and students should also report unusual, harassing, or threatening behaviors, as defined in Appendix A, even though such behaviors may not be in the form of an imminent threat, particularly if these behaviors make one fearful for his or her continued safety. Employees must make such reports regardless of the relationship of the employee to the person who initiated the threat or behavior or committed the act of violence.
        1. Any act of violence or threat of violence that is a violation of Florida criminal law, or any threatening or abusive act that makes one fear for his or her immediate safety, should be immediately reported to the University Police Department. 
        2. Any FSU employee, who has obtained a restraining order and/or Trespass Warning (TPW) taken against another individual, shall report such activity to his/her supervisor. The supervisor shall inform the University Police Department and employees under their supervision who, in the course of their duties at the University, may have reason to be in contact with the person who has been served with the restraining order or TPW. 
        3. The University Police Department will conduct a standard investigation and complete a police report in accordance with applicable Florida statutes. When appropriate, the Police Department shall notify the Threat Assessment Team (TAT) that a potential threat exists and call a meeting of the appropriate parties as specified in section VI.D. of this document. Additionally, any criminal activity reports received from other law enforcement agencies and involving university employees, shall be reviewed by the TAT for appropriate action. 
        4. Threat Assessment Team:
          1. A Threat Assessment Team (TAT) has been created within the University specifically to consider those situations where a person's behavior(s) indicates that they may be a potential risk to themselves or others. This is a pre-emptive team with a mission of early identification of intervention. The composition of the TAT shall be the following individuals or their designated representatives:
            1. Chief, University Police Department
            2. Director, EAP 
            3. Director, Human Resources 
            4. General Counsel 
            5. Appropriate Vice-President 
            6. Others as needed and deemed appropriate by above representatives
        5. Workplace Violence Management Team:
          1. A Workplace Violence Management Team (WVMT) shall periodically review the workplace violence policy and recommend changes as needed. The WVMT shall consist of the following persons or their designated representative:
            1. Chief, University Police Department 
            2. Director, EAP 
            3. Director, Human Resources
            4. General Counsel
        6. Crisis Management Unit - The University maintains a Crisis Management Unit (CMU) through a collaborative effort between the Psychology Department and the Campus Police Department. In the event of a situation that may require immediate police or psychological intervention, the Police department should be notified. The Chief of Police (or designated representative) will determine if the situation requires the attention of the police, the CMU or the TAT. 
        7. The reporting of any incidents of violence, potential violence, or threatening and abusive behavior shall not negate or interfere with any of the normal University disciplinary procedures provided for in the FSU Regulations, Student Handbook, or Faculty Handbook. 
        8. No employee, supervisor, or affected student, acting in good faith, shall be subjected to criticism, retaliation, or disciplinary action for reporting acts of violence, indications of potential violence, or threatening or abusive behavior. The rights of witnesses and victims are protected in accordance with University and State victim/witnesses' rights policy.
      1. The primary investigative authority shall be the University Police and State Attorney. 
      2. Upon the recommendation of any designated representative of the above-cited authorities, the Threat Assessment Team (TAT), shall be convened to investigate and assess the incident. 
      3. The duties of the TAT shall be as follows:
        1. Review the Violent Incident Report form. 
        2. Assess the level of risk. 
        3. Develop a plan of action. 
        4. Upon request, perform departmental workplace security analyses with a view toward recommending changes in tasks, procedures, the physical environment, training, and/or education in order to preclude future incidents of violence.
      1. With the exception of recommending professional counseling for offenders, all sanctions recommended by the TAT must conform to the sections of the FSU Regulations as they pertain to disciplinary actions, due process, and authority (see Appendix B).
        1. Any recommendations made by the TAT in accordance with Section VII, shall be forwarded, when appropriate, through University Personnel Services, to the appropriate vice president, dean, director, or department head having disciplinary authority over the offender in accordance with applicable rules of the FSU Regulations, Faculty Handbook, and Student Handbook. 
        2. Florida State University understands the sensitivity of the information provided and/or alleged in such reports and procedures as they pertain to employees' and students' rights to confidentiality and privacy. Therefore, appropriate procedures will be followed to limit the dissemination of reports to a need-to-know basis. Official University comments on incidents of workplace violence shall be made only through the FSU Police Department or the FSU Office of Media Relations.
      1. It is the combined responsibility of university employees, supervisors, and managers to appropriately normalize the workplace after an incident of workplace violence. 
      2. The University Police Department shall be responsible for informing all victims and witnesses of their rights. All victims are eligible for services as outlined in the University's Victim Advocate Program which falls under the administrative jurisdiction of the Dean of Students. 
      3. Depending upon the nature and extent of psychological trauma experienced by victims, witnesses, and/or co-workers, the EAP shall recommend and/or provide appropriate professional services. 
      4. Informational debriefings. A representative from the EAP, or the Police Department shall meet with affected employees and provide them with accurate and pertinent information surrounding the incident to allay anxieties of the unknown and prevent false rumors from developing. 
      5. Trauma debriefings. A professional from the EAP, or a consultant contracted for by the EAP, will meet privately with affected employees following any violent or traumatic event to provide Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, assess signs of abnormal coping, and to promote effective mental health resolution.
      1. The development of training and educational materials regarding these guidelines shall be coordinated by the EAP, with the support of the University Police and Human Resources.
        1. All employees, either through printed material or classroom environment, are encouraged to become familiar with the following.
          1. Techniques for recognizing the potential for violence. 
          2. Procedures, policies, guidelines, and work environment arrangements developed to control the risk of violence. 
          3. Proper use of security hardware, where present. 
          4. Appropriate response(s) to incidents of violence, including emergency and hostage situations. 
          5. Obtaining medical assistance and follow-up. 
          6. Reporting, investigating, and documenting incidents of violence.
        2. Every vice-president shall be responsible for assuring that all employees in their respective divisions have received training and/or printed information as outlined in above section.
        3. The Vice-President of Student Affairs shall assure that every student receives printed information concerning the University's Violence Policy with an emphasis on prevention and reporting procedures. 
        4. A statement on the University's position on workplace violence (Attachment 1) shall be prominently displayed in work, study, and student residence areas. 
        5. In addition to training and education issues discussed in Section above, the University Police, working in conjunction with other departments, shall conduct hazard assessments and workplace security analyses upon request.
    1. Statutory Definitions
      1. Section 784.081, F.S.--classifies assault and battery on a state university system employee as misdemeanor of the 1st degree, or felony of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree.
      2. Section 921.0012, F.S. --classifies severity of myriad criminal offenses, including assault and battery upon a state university system employee.
      3. Section 877.13, F.S. -defines disruptions for educational institutions or school boards.
    2. Florida State University Regulations Definitions
      1. FSU Regulation FSU 4.070(7)(b)--cites assault or fighting as basis for disciplinary action for USPS personnel.
      2. FSU Regulation FSU 4.070(7)(c)--cites "Conduct Unbecoming a Public Employee" as basis for disciplinary action for USPS personnel.
      3. FSU Regulation FSU 4.070(7)(v)--cites threatening or abusive language as basis for disciplinary action for USPS personnel.
      4. FSU Regulation FSU 5.285, also cited as Section 7.52, Disruptive Conduct, Faculty Handbook--cites "disruptive conduct" as committed by faculty and A&P employees to include, but not limited to:
        • Violence against any member or guest of the university community.
        • Willful destruction of university property or of the property of members of the university community.
        • Interference with the freedom of movement of any member or guest of the University.
        • Deliberately interfering or impeding with the rights of others to enter, use, or leave any university facility, service, or scheduled activity.
      5. In addition, FSU Regulation FSU 5.285 states: "Each university is free to further define disruptive conduct in its rules and regulations."
      6. FSU Regulation FSU 3.004, also cited as "Student Conduct Code," Student Handbook--cites numerous offenses pertaining to violent, potentially violent, and abusive behavior.
        1. Offenses Related to Persons.
          1. Intentionally or knowingly and without authority or consent, limits or restricts the freedom of another person to move about in a lawful manner. 
          2. Threatens by any means, intimidates, or uses physical force in a manner that endangers the health or safety of another person or which reasonably causes another person to be fearful of physical or emotional harm; or when a student attempts to coerce or influence anybody in an effort to discourage or prevent their use of or participation in any disciplinary hearing. 
          3. Intentionally harasses another person. Harassment includes, but is not limited to, impeding another persistently, or to wrong or bother another persistently. It also includes bothering another for the purpose of obtaining a sexual favor.
        2. Offenses Related to Property.
          1. Intentionally or negligently damages or destroys property owned or in the possession of another person or the University.
        3. Offenses Related to the Operation of the University.
          1. Engaged in obscene or indecent conduct on university property or at university-sponsored events. 
          2. Obstructs or interferes with the reprimand, discipline, or apprehension of another person who is involved in the commission of an offense under this rule, BOR rules, or F.S. 
          3. Intentionally acts to impair, interfere with, or obstruct the orderly conduct, processes, and functions of the University.
        4. Offenses Related to Welfare, Health, or Safety.
          1. Hazes another person (FL Statute 240.1325). 
          2. Uses, possesses, or manufactures, without authorization, firearms, explosives, weapons, unregistered fireworks, or other dangerous articles or substances injurious to persons or property. 
          3. Abuses, removes, or damages fire or safety equipment.
        5. Other Appropriate Definitions.
          1. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). "Workplace violence is any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse occurring in the work setting. It includes, but is not limited to beatings, stabbings, suicides, shootings, rapes, near suicides, psychological traumas such as threats, obscene phone calls, an intimidating presence, and harassment of any nature such as being followed, sworn at, or shouted at."
          2. An expanded NIOSH definition of violence includes:
            1. Assault 
            2. Criminal mischief 
            3. Disorderly conduct 
            4. Harassment 
            5. Larceny 
            6. Menacing behavior 
            7. Reckless endangerment 
            8. Robbery
            9. Criminal sexual offenses


    1. FSU Regulation FSU 4.070(3) for USPS and A&P personnel.
      1. Oral reprimand. 
      2. Written reprimand. 
      3. Reduction in pay. 
      4. Suspension. 
      5. Dismissal.
    2. FSU Regulation FSU 4.0335(1)(a) for tenured and non-tenured faculty.
      1. Suspension with pay. 
      2. Suspension without pay. 
      3. Reduction in compensation. 
      4. Reduction in rank. 
      5. Termination.
    3. FSU Regulation FSU 4.0335(15),(16) for tenured and non-tenured faculty.
      1. Immediate suspension. 
      2. Immediate dismissal.
    4. Section 7.11.2, Faculty Handbook, for in-unit A&P employees. 
    5. FSU Regulation FSU 3.004(1)(a) for students.
      1. Expulsion. 
      2. Dismissal. 
      3. Suspension. 
      4. Permanent exclusion from residence halls. 
      5. Temporary exclusion from residence halls. 
      6. Probation. 
      7. Reprimand. 
      8. Work hours. 
      9. Restitution. 
      10. Fines. 
      11. Holding records.


  • Florida State University is committed to providing and maintaining a respectful environment that is conducive to safe working, learning, and living for all members of the institutional community. The University must have an environment in which all faculty, staff, students, and guests can study, live, and work without intimidation or fear.
  • In keeping with this commitment, it is the policy of Florida State University that acts of violence, threats of violence, and behavior meant to intimidate others is strictly prohibited. Such prohibition includes any act, behavior, or communication which is abusive, threatening or disruptive to the work, education, or well-being of any individual or groups of individuals employed by, enrolled in, or visiting the University.
  • Anyone who believes themselves to be a victim of violence should report their concerns to Florida State University Police, and/or any university vice president, assistant vice president, dean, director, or department chair. Any threat or violent act by an employee or student will be considered serious misconduct and may be the basis for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.