Workplace Violence

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University Policy Number 2208


Responsible Office:

Policy Procedure:

Related Law & Policy:

**See related University resources:


The policies provided herein apply to all University faculty, staff, students, visitors, and contractors.


George Mason University strives to provide faculty, staff, students, and visitors a safe place in which to work, study and live.  As such, George Mason University takes a zero-tolerance approach to workplace violence.  This policy is designed to reduce the likelihood of workplace violence. The policy also provides information for all employees to use and identify the potential for violence, methods for prevention and intervention, and present a plan for post incident recovery.  Any member of the university community who commits a violent act or threatens to commit a violent act towards other persons or property on campus or at campus sponsored events shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from employment or expulsion from the university, exclusive of any civil and/or criminal penalties that may be pursued.

Violence in the workplace can have many sources.  It may be a current or former disgruntled employee or student.  It may be an angry customer, spouse, or relative of an employee or student.  It may also be someone without any relationship at all to the victim.  The violence may result from the discipline or firing of an employee, abuse of drugs, abuse of alcohol, harassment by co-workers, mental illness, or stress.  The violence also could be a random act such as robbery, terrorism, hate crimes against the University, rebellion against authority in general, or to gain public attention.


For the purposes of this policy, violence and threats of violence are defined as:

  • Any direct or indirect threat, behavior or action which suggests personal violation or endangers a person’s safety, including but not limited to sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence,  verbal and non-verbal threats, bullying, intimidation, or harassment of any nature, in person, through electronic media, or by phone; or
  • Use by an employee of workplace resources such as phones, fax machines, e-mail, mail or other means to threaten, harass or abuse a family or household member; or
  • Use of confidential University or personnel information by an employee to abuse or harm any victim; or
  • Behavior likely to result in an act of aggression such as a display of escalating anger; or
  • Any act that is a physical assault including, but not limited to, beating, stabbing, shoving, kicking, throwing of objects, shooting, or rape; or
  • Acts that destroy or damage property.


  • Every administrator, faculty member, staff member and student must act to maintain a violence-free workplace, to take any threat or violent act seriously, and to report acts of violence or threats to the appropriate authorities as set forth in this policy.
  • In case of a violent incident, contact the University Police by dialing 911 from any campus phone. Only the University Police or other law enforcement agencies should attempt to apprehend the offender.  All other persons should remain calm and cooperative.
  • George Mason University will provide assistance to the victimized person in connection with safety planning and other strategies aimed at enhancing the victim’s safety.
  • The Associate Vice President for Human Resources will oversee the Workplace Violence Assessment and Support Group and coordinate any preventive measures.
  • The Chief of Police will coordinate all University actions in case of a violent incident in the workplace.
  • Appropriate members of the Workplace Violence Assessment and Support Group will coordinate actions in response to expressed concerns of potentially violent situations.
  • Instructional faculty and supervisors should ensure that persons under their charge are protected from violent confrontations.  This includes reporting indications of possible hostile behavior, ensuring that the facilities are as safe as feasible, and protecting students and employees.  See specific guidance under Procedures, above.


A Workplace Violence Assessment and Support Group will assist faculty, staff and supervisors in handling potentially violent incidents. Information regarding potentially violent situations involving students should be directed to the Dean of Students.  Information regarding potentially violent situations involving faculty or staff should be directed to the Director of Employee Relations or the Chief Human Resources Officer.  The group will then assess the situation and recommend appropriate action.  All reasonably feasible efforts will be made to protect the safety of anyone who comes forward with concerns about a threat or act of violence.  Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent allowed by the law.  The Workplace Violence and Support Group will make formal education available to supervisors and managers in the best practices for responding to workplace violence.

Individuals from the following offices will comprise the Workplace Violence Assessment and Support Group:

– Counseling and Psychological Services: 993-2380
– Human Resources Office: 993-2600
– Office of the Provost: 993-8767
– University Life (Dean of Students): 993-2884
– University Police: 993-2816
– Sexual Assault Services: 993-9999
– Environmental Health and Safety Office: 993-8448


When managing situations of workplace violence or potential workplace violence, both the affected employee and her/his supervisor’s needs should be known and respected.

  • The University will endeavor to make adjustments to the work environment to help an employee who is a victim of workplace violence to perform the essential duties of her/his job, as set forth in her/his position description.
  • The University may allow paid or unpaid leave to an employee who is a victim, or may adjust that employee’s work assignment to permit the employee to take steps to address the violence and maintain her/his employment.
  • There may be a need for work adjustments to help an employee to continue to perform the essential functions of her/his job in a safe environment.  These adjustments may include, but are not limited to, changing a phone extension, transferring an employee to a different office, escorting an employee to her/his vehicle, or taking other appropriate steps to prevent the perpetrator from entering the workplace of the victim.
  • To request time off or any other adjustment of the work environment, University employees must contact their supervisor.  The Employee Relations team in the Human Resources and Payroll Department are available for consultation on these issues.


The Senior Vice President and the Provost will review all amendments and additions to this Administrative Policy.


This policy is effective July 1, 2003, was revised August 1, 2007 and August 30, 2010. This policy shall be reviewed and revised, if necessary, annually to become effective at the beginning of the University’s fiscal year, unless otherwise noted.


Maurice W. Scherrens
Senior Vice President

Peter N. Stearns

Date approved: August 17, 2011

Revision Date: September 18, 2007
Revision Date: August 11, 2011