Workplace Violence Policy and Procedures

CUNY Campus and Workplace Violence Prevention Policy

Policy Statement

The City University of New York (the “University” or “CUNY”) is committed to the prevention of workplace violence and will respond promptly to any threats and/or acts of violence. For purposes of this Policy, Workplace Violence is defined as any physical assault or acts of aggressive behavior occurring where an employee performs any work-related duty in the course of his or her employment, including but not limited to:

  1. An attempt or threat, whether verbal or physical, to inflict physical injury upon an employee;
  2. Any intentional display of force which would give an employee reason to fear or expect bodily harm;
  3. Intentional and wrongful physical contact with an employee without his or her consent that entails some injury;
  4. Stalking an employee in a manner which may cause the employee to fear for his or her physical safety and health when such stalking has arisen through and in the course of employment.

Workplace Violence presents a serious occupational safety hazard to CUNY and its employees. The University will respond promptly to threats and/or acts of violence. All employees are responsible for helping to create an environment of mutual respect and for assisting in maintaining a safe and secure work environment and will participate in the annual Workplace Violence Prevention Training Program. Individuals who violate this Policy may be removed from University property and are subject to disciplinary and/or personnel action up to and including termination, consistent with University policies, rules and collective bargaining agreements, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities
for criminal prosecution.

Incidents involving Workplace Violence will be given the serious attention they deserve.2  Employees are responsible for reporting any incidents of Workplace Violence of which they become aware. The procedure for reporting incidents of suspected or alleged Workplace Violence can be found in the campus specific Workplace Violence
Prevention Programs at Paragraph 7. The procedure for reporting complaints of a potential violation of the CUNY Workplace Violence Prevention Policy and Programs can be found in the campus specific Workplace Violence Prevention Programs at Paragraph 9.

The University, at the request of an employee or student, or at its own discretion, may prohibit members of the public, including family members, from seeing an employee or student on University property unless necessary to transact University-related business. This policy particularly applies when an employee or student anticipates that
an act of violence may result from an encounter with said individual(s).

Employee participation in the implementation of this Policy will be provided through their authorized employee representatives, who will be invited to participate in: (1)Scheduled physical risk assessment site evaluation(s) to determine the presence of risk factors which may place employees at risk of workplace violence; (2) the development and annual review of a Workplace Violence Prevention Program promulgated by each College for the implementation of the Policy; (3) the annual review of the Campus Workplace Violence Incidents Report prepared annually by each College; and (4) as appropriate, following a serious incident of Workplace Violence.

  1. This document supersedes and replaces The City University of New York Campus and Workplace Violence Prevention Policy approved by The City University of New York Board of Trustees on February 28, 2011,
  2. Complaints of sexual harassment are covered under the University’s Policy Against Sexual Harassment.
  3. Students are not directly covered by this Policy, but they should contact the Department of Public Safety.

Workplace Violence Prevention Program Document

Workplace Violence Campus-Specific Information






Dorothy Benson

Director of Finance and Business Affairs, CUNY SLU


Charles Scott

Director of Facilities and Building Operations


Francis Vargas

SOJ Director of Public Safety


John Flaherty

Executive Director for Institutional Facilities Services Administration


David Boxill

Executive Director of Human Resources (WVAT Chair)

212-817-7713 / 7704

Tanya Domi

Communications & Marketing


Dr. Martin Gitterman

Ombuds Office


Takisha Folade

Deputy Director, CUNY SPS HR


Alexis Rodriguez-Nieves

Administrative Specialist, CUNY SPS


Jessica Morak

Executive Director of Institutional Equity and Chief Diversity Officer, Compliance and Diversity


Dr. David Chapin

Professor of Psychology


Matthew Schoengood

Vice President for Student Affairs


 Edith Rivera

Confidential Executive Officer


Workplace Violence Hazard Assessments

The Graduate Center conducted a workplace violence hazard assessment and will conduct additional assessments upon the opening of a new facility or whenever a new workplace violence risk is identified. The assessments include reviews of Graduate Center security incident reports, OSHA injury/illness reports, NYPD crime statistics for the area immediately surrounding our building, annual Office of Security & Public Safety Internal Control Review Reports and Advisory Committee on Campus Security Annual Reports. A Security Self Inspection Hazard Checklist provided by CUNY is also completed. In addition, physical inspections of the facility are conducted. Based on the review of past incidents and the conditions and policies and procedures that are in place, it was determined that workplace violence threat at The Graduate Center is relatively low.

However, it should be recognized that colleges are not immune from workplace violence and the potential for workplace violence at The Graduate Center does exist. Therefore, every college office, department, center and institute should perform an initial assessment to identify its particular workplace security issues. If that assessment determines the college employees are at an elevated risk, the responsible manager or supervisor should contact the Office of Security & Public Safety.

There are a number of factors that have been shown to contribute to the risk of violence in a College workplace. If one or more of the following situations or activities is present in your workplace, then consider your workplace to be at potential risk of violence:

  • Exchange of large sums of money.
  • Working alone at late at night and during early morning hours.
  • Availability of valued items, e.g., money and jewelry.
  • Availability of prescription drugs.
  • Working with employees or students known or suspected to have a violent history.
  • Employees or former employees, with a history of assaults or who exhibit belligerent, intimidating or threatening behavior.
  • Employees who have been the object of belligerent, intimidating or threatening behavior from family members or significant others.

Inappropriate behavior is often a warning sign of potential hostility or violence. When left unchecked it can escalate to higher levels. Employees or students who exhibit the following behaviors should be reported to their supervisor and Security & Public Safety for investigation and follow-up:

  • Unwelcome name-calling, obscene language, and other abusive behavior and intimidation through direct or veiled threats.
  • Throwing objects in the workplace regardless of the size or type of object being thrown or whether a person is the target of a thrown object (work surfaces should be cleared of hot liquids or other objects that can be picked up and thrown, especially in areas when dealing with the public and during situations involving employee discipline).
  • Physically touching another employee in an intimidating, malicious or sexually harassing manner. That includes such acts as hitting, slapping, poking, kicking, pinching, grabbing, and pushing.

There are a number of factors that have been shown to contribute to the risk of workplace violence. However, there is no exact method to predict when a person will become violent. One or more of these warning signs may be displayed before a person becomes violent but does not necessarily indicate that an individual will become violent. A display of these signs should trigger concern as they're usually exhibited by people experiencing problems. Employees or students who exhibit the following behaviors should be reported to their supervisor and Security & Public Safety for investigation and follow-up:

  • History of violent behavior. 
  • Irrational beliefs and ideas.
  • Verbal, nonverbal or written threats or intimidation.
  • Fascination with other recent incidents of workplace violence and approval of the use of violence under similar circumstances.
  • Fascination with weaponry and/or acts of violence.
  • Carrying a concealed weapon or flashing a weapon to test reactions.
  • Expressions of a plan to hurt himself/herself or others.
  • Externalizing blame.
  • Unreciprocated romantic obsession with a co-worker or student. This interest may be so intense that the co-worker/student will feel threatened and may report the unwanted attention under the Sexual Harassment policy.
  • Taking up much of a supervisor's time with behavior or performance problems.
  • Fear reaction among coworkers or students.
  • Drastic change in belief system.
  • Displays of unwarranted anger.
  • New or increased source of stress at home or work.
  • Inability to take criticism. Holding a grudge, especially against a supervisor.
  • Feelings of being victimized.
  • Intoxication from alcohol and other substances.
  • Expressions of hopelessness or heightened anxiety.
  • Productivity and/or attendance problems.
  • Destruction of property.
  • Steals or sabotages projects or equipment.
  • Intentional disregard or lack of concern for the safety of others.

Workplace Violence Prevention

Personal conduct can help minimize violence. By following the suggestions below in your daily interactions with people you may be able to de-escalate potentially violent situations. If at any time a person's behavior starts to escalate beyond your comfort zone, disengage.


  • Project calmness: move and speak slowly, quietly and confidently.
  • Be an empathetic listener. Encourage the person to talk. Listen patiently.
  • Focus your attention on the other person to let them know you are interested in what they have to say.
  • Maintain a relaxed yet attentive posture and position yourself at a right angle rather than directly in front of the person.
  • Acknowledge the person's feelings. Indicate that you can see that he or she is upset.
  • Ask for small specific favors such as asking the person to move to a quieter area.
  • Establish ground rules if unreasonable behavior exists. Calmly describe the consequences of any violent behavior.
  • Use delay tactics, which will give the person time to calm down. For example, offer a drink of water in a plastic cup (never offer a glass container or hot beverage).
  • Ask uninvolved parties to leave the area to summon help if this can be done safely. Use a prearranged code word to alert your supervisor or co-worker to call Security.
  • Be reassuring and point out choices. Break big problems into smaller more manageable problems.
  • Accept criticism in a positive way. When a complaint might be true, use statements like "You're probably right" or "It was my fault". If the criticism seems unwarranted, ask clarifying questions.
  • Ask for his/her recommendations. Repeat back what you feel he/she is requesting of you.
  • Arrange yourself so your access to an exit is not blocked.
  • Above all, trust your instincts. If the situation deteriorates to a level where your safety is in jeopardy, escape at the first opportunity and notify Security & Public Safety at x7777.


  • Use styles of communication, which generate hostility such as apathy, brush off, coldness, condescension, going strictly by the rules or giving the run-around.
  • Reject all of a person’s demands from the start.
  • Pose in challenging stances such as standing directly opposite someone, hands on hips or crossing your arms.
  • Make any physical contact, finger-point or have long periods of fixed eye contact.
  • Make sudden movements that can be seen as threatening. Notice the tone, volume and rate of your speech.
  • Challenge, threaten, or dare the individual. Never belittle the person making him/her feel foolish.
  • Criticize or act impatiently toward the agitated individual.
  • Attempt to bargain with a threatening individual.
  • Try to make the situation seem less serious than it is.
  • Make false statements or promises you cannot keep.
  • Try to impart a lot of technical or complicated information when emotions are high.
  • Take sides or agree with distortions.
  • Invade the individual's personal space. Make sure there is a space of 3' to 6' between you and the person.

Domestic Violence often spills over to the workplace, usually in the form of stalking behavior. Stalking involves intentional and repeated actions that place an individual in reasonable fear for his or her safety. Stalking, a course of conduct used to maintain contact with, or exercise power and control over another individual, is a crime. According to the New York State Penal Law, stalking is committed when a person intentionally, for no legitimate purpose, engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person and knows or reasonably should know that such conduct is likely to, or does, cause a particular type of fear or harm.

You are being stalked if someone is:

  • Repeatedly following or spying on you.
  • Repeatedly calling your home and/or work.
  • Repeatedly sending unwanted e-mails, letters, faxes, etc.
  • Leaving unwanted gifts or items for you.
  • Vandalizing or damaging your property.
  • Threatening you or someone close to you.
  • Repeatedly showing up, for no legitimate purpose, at places that you go to.
  • If you are a victim of domestic violence and/or a stalking victim you should contact your local police
    precinct. If you have obtained an order of protection against your spouse you should notify the Office of
    Security & Public Safety. You can also take the following precautions while at work:
  • Provide Security with a copy of an order of protection and picture of the abuser.
  • Keep a copy of the order of protection with you at all times.
  • Tell your supervisor or a co-worker about the situation and ask that person to call 911 and Security in an emergency.
  • Have a back-up person if your primary contact is not available.
  • Request that your desk be placed in a safe location.
  • If possible, have someone screen your calls.
  • Meet with Security so you can plan an escape route.
  • Working with your supervisor and Security, find a safe room with a phone to use in an emergency.
Security (24 Hours) 7777
Director of Security & Public Safety 7761
Police (Emergency) 911
New York City Services (Information) 311
NYC Domestic Violence Hotline (24 Hours) 1-800-621-HOPE
For the Hearing Impaired 1-800-810-7444
NYS Domestic Violence Hotline  
   English 1-800-942-6906
   Spanish 1-800-942-6908
Brooklyn Criminal Court 718-643-4044
Brooklyn Family Court 718-643-2650
Bronx Criminal Court 718-590-2000
Bronx Family Court 718-590-3319
Manhattan Criminal Court 212-374-4984
Manhattan Family Court 212-386-5170
Queens Criminal Court 718-520-3469
Queens Family Court 718-298--0197
Staten Island Criminal Court 718-390-8400
Staten Island Family Court 718-390-5460
VINE (Victim Information Notification Everyday) 1-888-VINE-4-NY