Violence in the Workplace

Although Valdosta State University (VSU) has polices that address campus violence SECTION 807.09 and disruptive behaviors SECTION 804.12, policies do not prevent situations from occurring, all members of the VSU community must participate in protecting the campus by becoming knowledgeable of the issues that cause these situations and following the procedures put in place to prevent such acts.

To minimize the risk of violent acts occurring in the workplace, or elsewhere on campus, attention must focus on a variety of steps in the hiring and employment process. These include a rigorous applicant screening process, awareness of early warning signs, and supervisory training.

Applicant Screening

There are several elements to the screening process. The first is the application. Applications are required to be completed by all applicants for employment at Valdosta State. Applications should be complete with all items answered. Special attention should be given to number of positions held and the duration of each. In addition, there should be a complete accounting of time since enrolled as a full-time student or as far back as practical. All periods of unemployment should be explained fully. These same areas should be covered extensively during the interview. Applicants may be questioned about felony CONVICTIONS. If the applicant admits to a felony conviction, please consult with the Human Resources and Employee Development for appropriate action.

Felony convictions automatically disqualify an individual for employment with the University System of Georgia (Board of Regents Policy Manual §II (B)(2)(d)).

Failing to disclose a criminal conviction history where required in employment application materials will disqualify a candidate for employment with an institution of the University System of Georgia.

Verification of employment and a minimum of two (2) complete reference checks for the top three candidates is required. For information on how to hire the right person, please attend a training program offered by Employee and Organizational Development. For information on any portion of the hiring process please contact Employment Administration located in Human Resources.

Early Warning Signs

Early warning signs for a potentially troubled individual include but are not limited to:

  • Attendance problems 
  • Increased mental distraction 
  • Inconsistent work practices 
  • Poor interpersonal relationships 
  • Increased health and safety problems 
  • Poor health and hygiene habits 
  • Persistently inappropriate demonstrations of anger 
  • Escalated verbal aggression 
  • Brandishing weapons at work

It is important to note that almost without fail, violent individuals will fall within one or more of these categories:

  • History of violence 
  • Psychosis-loss of contact with reality 
  • Romantic obsessions 
  • Chemical dependence 
  • Depression 
  • Pathological blaming 
  • Fascination or interest in death, violence, weapons 

For additional information on how both staff members and supervisors can increase their knowledge related to these issues, please read the information compiled by the VSU Counseling Center in the Violence in the Workplace Seminar held by Employee and Organizational Development. Additional information on how you can assist your coworkers and students with a problem can be found in the handout Helping Someone with a Concern and via information on the Employee Assistance Program.

Supervisory Training:

Supervisors should be trained in effective communications, conflict resolution, team building, performance counseling, coaching, and stress management. They should also be trained to handle layoffs, disciplinary actions, and terminations with professionalism, sensitivity, and respect for the individual.

A variety of supervisory training courses are offered by Employee and Organizational Development. Information and schedules of courses offered can be found on their web page.

Before addressing any employee relations problem, supervisors should consult Human Resources and Employee Development at 333-5709 for assistance. Information regarding disciplinary procedures can be found in the Valdosta State University Policies and Procedures. Section 806.01.

The VSU Counseling Center is a resource for employees and can assist managers with determining if an employee needs counseling. Here is the procedure. Managers may contact the Counseling Center for guidance on how to help a troubled employee. The phone number is 333-5940. The Counselors on staff are

  • Dr. Victor Morgan
  • Dr. John Grotgen
  • Dr. Laura Hoffman
  • Ms. Leah McMillan
  • Ms. Shelia Wakeley

If the manager feels he/she can no longer help the employee, and feels skilled counseling is the best option, then call the Counseling Center to let a counselor know that a referral will be made. This gives the counselor up front information about the situation and that Counseling is part of the development plan for that employee.

Even though what is discussed in the actual counseling session is strictly private, the Counseling Center can let you know if the employee is attending scheduled appointments. I

If an employee does not wish to receive counseling on campus, the Counseling Center can be used as a referral source.

If you are faced with a distressed or suicidal employee, then you can contact the Counseling Center and have a counselor speak to the person over the phone to help intervene and encourage them to seek counseling. Response time for speaking with a counselor is usually 30 to 60 minutes.

The Employee Assistance Program is another avenue offered to employees for assistance with problems that may be unrelated to their job. This on-line service provide information on resources within the VSU community and off campus related to a variety of different topics, issues and concerns.

 

Above all if you are ever faced with a situation:

Threatening Behavior--Non-emergency: Reduce the possibility of threats or violence by treating all co-workers, students, employees and the general public with respect. Attempt to move the situation to a private place away from populated work areas. Listen carefully and thoroughly before speaking and acknowledge distress. Project understanding, care, and commitment being constantly aware of the tone of your voice. If you become angry or upset, remove yourself from the situation and find a co-worker, supervisor, resident advisor or another person to immediately assist you. An individual experiencing threatening behavior from a co-worker, student, or the general public should report the behavior to his/her supervisor, resident advisor, or someone in authority immediately. If the threatening person is the supervisor or someone in authority, the individual will report the incident to the next person in authority up the chain of authority. Reporting threatening behavior will not be the basis for adverse action.

Emergency: Any member of the VSU community observing violent or threatening behavior is expected to first secure his/her own safety and then call the Valdosta State University Police at 259- 5555 or 911 if the situation requires immediate assistance of medical personnel and/or law enforcement. If the incident occurs off campus or at satellite locations, the observer should call 911 or the emergency number of the facility at which he/she is located. Be prepared to provide an accounting of what happened, e.g., injuries sustained by the victim if any, a description of the violent or threatening individual and the exact location of the incident. The individual reporting the incident should immediately thereafter notify his/her supervisor or person in authority. The person in authority who receives the report will notify his/her chain of authority, and the individual having authority over the threatening individual.

 

Quick Resource Information

VSU Counseling Center:

During the hours of M-Thursday from 8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. & on Fridays from 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. call 229-333-5940.

  • After hours contact VSU Public Safety for an on-call Counselor at 229-259-5555 or 229-333-7816.

Valdosta State University Police

  • (For an Emergency) call 229-259-5555 or 911 or

  • (For a non-emergency) call 229-333-7816

Farber Student Health Services:

229-333-5886

Dean of Students, Judicial Affairs:

229-333-5941

South Georgia Medical Center:

229-333-1000 

Smith Northview Hospital:

229-671-2000

Greenleaf Center, Inc.:

229-247-4357 or

24-hour Hotline: 1-800-247-2747

Behavioral Health Services:

Access Center - 229-247-4440

Valdosta Police Dept.:

229-242-2606 or 911 if an Emergency

Lowndes County Sheriff’s Dept.:

229- 333-5138 or 911 if an Emergency

Remerton Police Dept.:

229-247-2329 or 911 if an Emergency

The Haven Rape Crisis Center:

229-242-1544 (daytime hours)

229-244-4477 (evening hours)

The Haven Battered Women’s Shelter:

229-244-4477

Hotlines:

Georgia Crisis Access Line:

24-Hour Crisis Line – 1-800-715-4225

National Domestic Violence/Abuse Hotline:

1-800-700-SAFE

The Haven Rape Crisis Center/Battered Women’s Shelter:

24-Hour Crisis Line – 229-244-4477 or 1-800-33-HAVEN

Policies

SECTION 807.09
Violence in the Workplace.

Violence of any form is prohibited in the work place and will lead to severe disciplinary action to include termination of employment.

Examples of non-acceptable behavior may include physical or verbal threats by an employee, disruption of work routines as the result of bizarre behavior, disorderly conduct, physical occupation of a campus area ignoring requests to disperse, etc.

Supervisors are encouraged to deal with such behavior in a positive manner, maintaining open channels of communication, and encouraging the employee to seek professional assistance in dealing with the problem, when such action seems appropriate.

SECTION 804.12
Disruptive Behavior.

The Board of Regents and the University are deeply concerned with those students, faculty members, administrators and employees who, acting individually or in concert with others, disrupts or obstructs or attempts to disrupt or obstruct any teaching, research, administrative, disciplinary or public service activity or any other authorized activity to be held or discharged on any University System campus. Those employees having attempted or conducted such disruptive activities shall have committed an act of gross irresponsibility and shall be subject to disciplinary procedures possibly resulting in dismissal or termination of employment.