University at Buffalo Crest.

Policy Information

Date Established: 11/4/2010
Date Last Updated: 10/18/2021
Category:
Human Resources
Responsible Office:
Human Resources - Employee Relations
Responsible Executive:
Vice President for Finance and Administration

Policy Contents

Workplace Violence and Bullying Prevention Policy

Summary

The University at Buffalo is committed to providing a safe work environment in which the dignity of everyone is respected, the free exchange of ideas is encouraged, and all individuals are able to flourish. The university will respond promptly to threats, acts of violence, bullying, and acts of aggression by employees or against employees by coworkers, members of the public, students, or others.

Policy Statement

The University at Buffalo (UB, university) is committed to providing a safe work environment for all employees and will not tolerate any act or threat of violence made in the workplace, on university property, or by an employee while conducting university business. The university will respond promptly to threats, acts of violence, bullying, and acts of aggression by employees or against employees by coworkers, members of the public, students, or others. Violent conduct, bullying conduct, or any threat of violence, implied or direct, is prohibited. This includes conduct on university property as well as off-campus conduct, whether in person or electronic (e.g., phone, text, email, social media), in connection with university business or that could impact an employee’s work environment. Prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to:

  • The use of force with the intent to cause harm (e.g., physical attack, any unwanted contact such as hitting, fighting, pushing, or throwing objects)
  • Behavior that diminishes the dignity of others through unlawful harassment, including harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, gender, pregnancy, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, familial status, veteran status, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction status
  • Acts or threats, made directly or indirectly, intended to intimidate, harass, threaten, bully, coerce, or cause fear of harm; these may include physical acts (e.g., lunging, throwing objects) or verbal acts (e.g., yelling, threatening future harm)
  • Acts or threats, made directly or indirectly, by oral statements, written words, electronic communications, or non-verbal means (e.g., notes, email, mail, text messages, social media, body language, gestures, or symbols that communicate a direct or indirect threat of physical or mental harm)
  • Stalking

Behaviors that violate this policy may also violate other applicable policies (e.g., Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Computing and Network Use Policy, school-level learning environment policies).

In accordance with New York State (NYS) Penal Law NYSPL 265.01(3), it is illegal to carry or possess any type of firearm on university property, regardless of whether an individual has a permit or not. An individual may not carry, possess, or use any dangerous instrument or weapon (e.g., firearms, explosives, other weapons, dangerous chemicals) on any property owned or controlled by the university without appropriate university authorization. Lawful possession of a firearm from a valid, approved telecommute location is permitted; however, the worktime carrying or use of such firearm(s) is prohibited.

Workplace Violence Advisory Team

The Workplace Violence Advisory Team (comprised of representatives from Employee Relations (ER), University Police Department (UPD), Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and State and Research Foundation (RF) Benefits Administration) will:

  • Monitor compliance with risk evaluation measures to determine the presence of factors or situations that might place employees at risk of workplace violence
  • Identify high risk occupations
  • Identify risk factors in the workplace such as lack of or low lighting, and the availability of safety features such as security cameras and blue phones
  • Follow hierarchy of controls by eliminating the hazard if possible and if it cannot be eliminated, develop administrative controls or, as applicable, personal protective equipment
  • Implement improvements recommended in response to identified hazards (e.g., increased lighting, increased number of blue phones and security cameras)
  • Facilitate workplace violence and bullying prevention training to prepare individuals to recognize the signs and behaviors of potential workplace violence and how to respond to occurrences of workplace violence
  • Utilize workplace violence prevention resources including UPD, campus incident reports, and consultant workplace safety suggestions to assist in recognizing and preventing workplace violence
  • Utilize prevention, intervention, and interviewing techniques in responding to workplace violence
  • Evaluate incidents of workplace violence to prevent future occurrences

Information and Training for Employees

The university will provide the following information and training on the risks of violence in the workplace at employee orientation and annually thereafter:

  • Requirements of NYS Labor Law §27-b & 12 NYCRR Part 800.6
  • Location of this Workplace Violence and Bullying Prevention Policy
  • Measures employees can take to protect themselves from workplace violence and respond to bullying they experience or witness, including becoming familiar with the details of the Workplace Violence and Bullying Prevention Policy and to whom to report an incident
  • Risk factors in the workplace
  • How to sign up for the UB Alert system to have important workplace safety information sent via email or text message
  • The UPD website address, including a posting of all alerts
  • Contact information for University Police escorts; employees who are victims of violence, receiving threats, or have a specific cause to be concerned for their safety, may request University Police escorts
  • UB Guardian cell phone application that turns your phone into a safety device

Reporting

Employees in situations of workplace violence that involve an imminent threat should contact University Police.

Situations that do not present an imminent threat may be reported to either or both of the following:

  • The immediate supervisor or unit head
  • Employee Relations (ER)

Employees may report behavior that constitutes harassment based on a factor listed in UB’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy to EDI.

Employees may also consult confidentially with an EAP representative.

Upon receiving a report of a violation of this policy, a supervisor or unit head must contact and consult with ER. ER will then respond to the situation in a prompt and reasonable fashion and will contact the reporting employee.

If ER or EDI receive a report of a violation of this policy, these offices will coordinate with the supervisor or unit head, as appropriate, in order to address the reported behaviors. It is important to note that principles of due process apply.

Employees should report a situation where a UB student engages in threatening or harassing behavior to University Police. University Police will coordinate with UB’s Office of Student Conduct and Advocacy to address behaviors that violate the Student Code of Conduct.

Retaliation

The university has a zero-tolerance policy regarding retaliatory action. Retaliatory action against anyone acting in good faith who has made a complaint of workplace violence or bullying, who has reported witnessing workplace violence or bullying, or who has been involved in reporting, investigating, or responding to workplace violence or bullying is a violation of this policy. Retaliatory acts may include, but are not limited to: (1) employment actions affecting salary, promotion, job duties, work schedules or work locations; (2) any action affecting the employee’s work atmosphere. Those found responsible for retaliatory action may be subject to discipline up to and including termination, or criminal charges, if applicable. To report a retaliatory action, please contact one of the offices listed under Workplace Violence Advisory Team.

Background

This policy meets the requirements of NYS Labor Law §27-b, The Workplace Violence Prevention Act for Public Employees. This law is intended to ensure that the risk of workplace assaults and homicides is evaluated by affected public employers and that such employers design and implement workplace violence protection programs to prevent and minimize the hazards of workplace violence to public employees.

This policy also addresses behaviors that rise to the level of bullying. Workplace bullying is a form of psychological violence that disrupts the peaceable environment and can result in lower workplace morale and productivity, greater employee absenteeism and turnover, and higher stress and its related health issues.

Management, along with authorized employee representatives, will work together to keep the University at Buffalo a safe place to work.

Applicability

This policy applies to all university entities and employees, whether full-time, part-time, seasonal, student workers, volunteers, contractors, or other workers.

Definitions

Bullying

Unwelcome behavior that undermines an individual or group through negative verbal, physical, or psychological abuse. Such behavior undermines the health, dignity, and well-being of employees, and can lead to workplace violence. While bullying typically involves repeated behaviors, there are times when a behavior is so egregious that it need happen only once to constitute bullying. Unacceptable bullying behavior may include, but is not limited to:

  • Abusive expression directed at another person that is outside the range of commonly accepted expressions of disagreement or critique
  • Demeaning others through name-calling, ridicule or spiteful remarks, with the effect of disrupting the workplace
  • Threats of imminent or future harm directed toward an individual or group
  • Screaming and yelling
  • Unwarranted physical contact
  • Sabotage of another person’s work
  • Abuse of authority
  • Intentionally and without a legitimate purpose (e.g., to maintain confidentiality) isolating or excluding an individual from work related activities, benefits, communications, locations and/or events
  • Other severe, pervasive, or persistent conduct that a reasonable person would find to create an intimidating work environment

Bullying is not about occasional differences of opinion, employee performance, conflicts, or problems in workplace relationships. It is not considered bullying when a supervisor is firm in instructing or directing a subordinate.

Bullying behaviors that are directed at an individual based on a factor listed in UB’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy may also constitute discriminatory harassment.

Harassment

A form of discrimination consisting of oral, written, graphic or physical conduct relating to an individual's protected characteristics as outlined in UB’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy that has the effect of subjecting the individual to inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment or interferes with or limits the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the university’s programs or activities. Such conduct must amount to more than petty slights or trivial inconveniences, but need not be severe or pervasive. Engaging in speech or expression protected by the First Amendment is not a violation of the university's policies against discrimination and harassment.

Imminent Threat

A situation that is likely to result in injury or death if immediate action is not taken; imminent threats must be reported to UPD immediately.

Stalking

Intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, when the individual engaging in the conduct knows or reasonably should know that such conduct:

  • Is likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property of such person, a member of such person's immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted; or
  • Causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of such person, where such conduct consists of following, telephoning or initiating communication or contact with such person, a member of such person's immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct; or
  • Is likely to cause such person to reasonably fear that his or her employment, business or career is threatened, where such conduct consists of appearing, telephoning or initiating communication or contact at such person's place of employment or business and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct.

Workplace Violence

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as “violent acts (including physical assaults and threats of assaults) directed toward persons at work or on duty.” Workplace violence is any physical assault, threatening behavior, aggressive behavior, or verbal abuse occurring in the work setting.

Workplace Violence Prevention Risk Evaluation

An employer’s inspection or examination of their workplace to determine if existing or potential hazards exist that might place employees at risk of occupational assaults or homicides. NYS Labor Law requires all public employers to perform a risk evaluation of their workplace. Risk evaluation techniques include:

  • Examination of the history of past incidents to identify patterns or trends which occurred in your workplace
  • A review of occupational injury and illness logs (SH900) and incident reports to identify injuries that may have resulted from workplace violence incidents
  • Surveying employees regarding details associated with the occurrence of workplace violence incidents
  • Conducting physical workplace security building surveys

Responsibility

Workplace Violence Advisory Team

  • Monitor compliance with risk evaluation measures to determine the presence of factors or situations that might place employees at risk of workplace violence.
  • Identify high risk occupations.
  • Annually perform a Workplace Violence Prevention Risk Evaluation that includes:
    • Examination of the history of past incidents to identify patterns or trends in the workplace
      • An evaluation may also occur for repeat incidents in a short period of time or an injury requiring more than first aid
    • Review of occupational injury and illness logs (SH900) and incident reports to identify injuries that may have resulted from workplace violence incidents
    • Survey of employees regarding details associated with the occurrence of workplace violence incidents
  • Develop workplace violence prevention training materials to prepare individuals to recognize the signs and behaviors of potential workplace violence and how to respond to occurrences of workplace violence.
  • Utilize workplace violence prevention tools to assist in recognizing and preventing workplace violence on campus.
  • Utilize prevention, intervention, and interviewing techniques in responding to workplace violence.
  • Identify patterns of bullying behavior in a department or targeted toward individuals or groups, and work with unit leadership to address this.
  • Evaluate reported incidents of workplace violence to prevent future occurrences.

Managers and Supervisors

  • Report all incidents and concerns for potential workplace violence to UPD then the Employee Relations Office immediately.
  • Address reported incidents of bullying in consultation with ER.
  • Annually perform a departmental Workplace Violence Prevention Risk Evaluation that includes:
    • Examination of the history of past incidents to identify patterns or trends which occurred in your workplace
    • Conducting physical workplace security building surveys; UPD may assist with this upon request
  • Monitor to ensure that all employees comply with the annual requirement for completing Workplace Violence training.
  • Monitor and follow-up on reported situations to prevent recurrence of the behavior.

Employees

  • refrain from engaging in violent, threatening, harassing, or bullying behaviors.
  • Report all incidents and concerns of potential workplace violence and bullying to UPD, your supervisor, or the Employee Relations Office immediately.
  • Contact University Police to report a situation:
    • Of workplace violence or bullying that involves an imminent threat
    • Where a UB student engages in threatening or harassing behavior
  • Annually complete the Workplace Violence training program.

Contact Information

Contact An Expert
Contact Phone Email
Employee Assistance Program 716-645-4461 ub-eap@buffalo.edu
Employee Relations 716-645-7777 putrino@buffalo.edu
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion 716-645-2266 diversity@buffalo.edu
University Police 716-645-2227 ub-police@buffalo.edu
University Police Escort 716-645-2227 ub-police@buffalo.edu

Related Information

University Documents

Forms

Related Links

History

Policy Revision History
October 2021 Full review. Updated the policy to:
•  Change the title of the policy from "Workplace Violence Prevention" to "Workplace Violence and Bullying Prevention"
•  Specify that behaviors that violate this policy may also violate other applicable policies
•  Clarify language regarding carrying or possessing firearms, dangerous weapons, or instruments
•  Add a Reporting section
•  Add references to bullying in the Policy Statement and the Reporting and Retaliation sections
•  Add a Background section
•  Revise the Applicability section
•  Add a definition for Bullying, Harassment, Imminent Threat, and Stalking
•  Remove binary language references
January 2012 Updated to expand the restriction regarding the possession of weapons to include university employees working on non-university owned premises.
November 2011 Updated the Office of Equity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Administration (EDAAA) department name to reflect the current name of Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).
December 2010 Updated to add information in accordance with requirements of the New York State Department of Education and New York State Department of Public Employee Safety & Health.

Presidential Approval

Signed by President Satish K. Tripathi

Satish K. Tripathi, President

 

10/18/2021

Date