1.6 Zero Tolerance of Workplace Violence

Introduction

In 1992 the Minnesota Legislature adopted the following act (Minnesota Statute 1.5):

Freedom from Violence

The State of Minnesota hereby adopts a policy of zero tolerance of violence. It is state policy that every person in the state has a right to live free from violence.

In furtherance of this policy, Minn. Stat. 15.86 mandates that each agency of state government adopt a goal of zero tolerance of violence in and around the workplace.

Each agency is also encouraged to develop a plan that describes how the agency will (1) seek to eliminate any potential for violence in and around the agency workplace; and (2) seek to eliminate any potential for violence by affecting the attitudes and behavior of the people that the agency serves or regulates.

Agency Goal

It is the goal of the Alexandria Technical & Community College to achieve a work environment that is free from threats and acts of violence. The college will not tolerate workplace violence of any type from any source. This includes threatening or violent actions by employees or students directed against other employees or students, by employees or students directed against college customers or other workplace visitors, and by college customers or visitors directed against college employees or students.

Agency Policy

It is the policy of the Alexandria Technical & Community College and the responsibility of its managers, its supervisors, and all of its employees to maintain a workplace free from threats and acts of violence. The college will work to provide a safe workplace for employees, students, and visitors to the workplace. Each employee, and everyone with whom we come into contact in our work, deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect.

The college's policy on work-related violence includes the following:

  • The college will actively work to prevent and eliminate acts of work-related violence.
  • The college will respond promptly, positively, and aggressively to deal with threats or acts of violence. This response will include timely involvement of law enforcement agencies when appropriate.
  • The college hereby adopts and will work to enforce a policy of prohibiting possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons in the workplace unless under the direct supervision of registered instructors in connection with curriculum requirements for specific programs.
  • Incidents of work-related threats or acts of violence will be treated seriously by the college. Reports of such acts will be promptly investigated, and management will take action as necessary to appropriately address each incident.
  • The college will take strong disciplinary action, up to and including discharge from employment or enrollment, against employees or students of the college who are involved in the commission of work-related threats or acts of violence.
  • The college will support criminal prosecution of those who threaten or commit work-related violence against its employees, students, taxpayers, or other visitors to its work environment.
  • Pursuant to Minnesota Statute 15.86, this policy does not create any civil liability on the part of the Alexandria Technical & Community College or the State of Minnesota.

Plan for Implementing Zero Tolerance of Violence in and Around the Workplace

  1. The college will provide a safe workplace.
    • The Alexandria Technical & Community College is committed to ensuring that the workplace provides for the safety of employees, students, and guests and for reasonable protection from workplace violence.
    • A "Facility Protection Plan" will be prepared for the college. The plan will address physical security requirements of the facility and will include procedures for appropriate response to threats and acts of violence.
  2. The college will attempt to limit violence from external sources by positively affecting the attitudes and the behavior of its customers.
    • Customer Service: The college will continue the customer service emphasis; the use of a "We Care" strategy to achieve a comfortable environment for all visitors; and work toward a friendly, safe educationally-sound system that is fair, efficient, reliable, competitive, and understandable. In doing so, and by treating customers with the respect and dignity they are entitled to, the potential for workplace violence from external sources will be greatly reduced.
    • Appeals: Customers have the right to make both informal and formal appeals of college decisions or actions which may affect them adversely. The college will continue to work with customers to make them aware of their appeal rights. Conscientious administration of a fair appeals process is another means by which the college can positively affect the potential for workplace violence from external sources.
  3. The college will attempt to reduce the potential for internal workplace violence by positively affecting the attitudes and the behavior of its employees.
    • Creating a Low-risk Work Environment: Division chairs, supervisors, administrators, and faculty are expected to promote positive behavior and to lead by example by treating employees and students with the respect and dignity each person deserves. Emphasis will be placed on creating a workplace where established standards of conduct are clear, communicated, and consistently enforced and discipline being used fairly and appropriately to deal with instances of unacceptable behavior.
    • Supervisory Training: All division chairs, administrators, and supervisors will be provided with training on how to deal with workplace-related threats and acts of violence. This training will focus on prevention and de-escalation of violence, suggestions for appropriate responses to threats and acts of violence, and identification of resources which are available for use once a potential problem has been identified or an incident has occurred.
    • Employee Training: All employees will be given the opportunity to receive training in threat awareness and appropriate responses to aggressive, threatening, and violent behaviors. Assessment of additional training needs for employees will be made upon request of the supervisor, and appropriate training programs will be developed and presented.
    • Employee Counseling and Assistance: The department will encourage use of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP is primarily an assessment, short-term counseling, and referral agency. While supervisors, union representatives, or family members may encourage employees to seek help from the EAP, the decision to use the services must be a voluntary one. Employees may also choose to seek assistance from private health services to deal with pressures, stress, emotional problems, or other personal issues which could, if ignored, lead to threats or acts of violence.
    • Self-help: Informational brochures and other media will be used to make all employees familiar with the services offered by the EAP and by the college's Health Services Office. Information will also be provided about other options for the resolution of personal and work-related problems which may have a potential for escalating to a violent incident. Employees will be encouraged to utilize all available resources.
    • Valuing and Respecting Diversity: It is the college's policy and practice to value and respect individual differences among people. Harassment of any person in the workplace is strictly prohibited. Harassment can be any behavior which is unwelcome, personally offensive, insulting, or demeaning when
      • submission to such conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic status;
      • submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions or academic status affecting such an individual; or
      • such conduct has the purpose or the affect of unreasonably interfering with an employee's or student's educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
    Harassment and discrimination are serious concerns. Incidents of this nature, if not corrected, may result in workplace violence. Management will continue to treat reports of harassment and discrimination seriously. Complaints of alleged harassment or discrimination will be promptly investigated, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken as necessary.
  4. The college will effectively deal with threats of violence and with actual incidents of violence.
    • Supervisory Responsibilities: Division chairs, supervisors, and administration have primary responsibility for ensuring a safe work environment. Administrators and division chairs are specifically empowered to take immediate action to resolve or stabilize violent situations in the workplace and protect people from harm. Division chairs, supervisors, or administrators will ensure that when a threat is made or a violent incident occurs, appropriate incident response resources are notified immediately. Administrators will also ensure that appropriate disciplinary responses to internal workplace violence and aggression are made.
    • Incident Response Coordinator (IRC): The college has appointed an "Incident Response Coordinator" (IRC) who is responsible for coordinating responses to violent or threatening situations in the workplace. The IRC will
      • assist division chairs, administrators, and supervisors in the development of applicable training programs;
      • serve as a resource referral agent and information source for supervisors and others with regard to workplace violence concerns; and
      • respond, as needed, to incidents involving threats or acts of workplace-related violence. While each situation will be unique, this will often require that the IRC
        • perform situation assessments and evaluations;
        • assist with attempts to de-escalate/properly manage potentially violent situations when possible;
        • facilitate and coordinate response actions of appropriate resources, both internal and external; and
        • ensure that appropriate follow-up action is taken (investigation, victim assistance, preventative and corrective actions, etc.)
    • The IRC will carry out these responsibilities with the assistance of appropriate college, state, and local government resources.
  5. The college will work to eliminate dangerous weapons from the workplace.
    • Dangerous Weapon Prohibition: Effective immediately, the possession of any dangerous weapon, including firearms, in the college workplace by any person, other than a law enforcement officer or under the control and supervision of the Law Enforcement training program as pursuant to the Law Enforcement curriculum, is strictly prohibited. See Appendix A for a list of dangerous weapons included in this prohibition.

Plan Implementation

Copies of this policy and plan will be distributed to all employees and will be posted on employee bulletin boards. Division chairs and supervisors will be responsible for informing employees of this policy and plan and for enforcing compliance with them. This policy and plan will be discussed at new employee orientation, and all new employees will be provided with a copy of this policy and plan. A copy of this plan will also be available in the college's Library.

The college will continue to provide information about the services available through the Employee Assistance Program and the Health and Wellness Program to help employees deal with concerns and issues related to workplace or family violence. Training needs will be assessed; and training sessions for division chairs, supervisors, and employees will be developed and presented. The college will work to further advance this plan and identify and address specific action items.

Following appointment of the college's Incident Response Coordinator (IRC), employees will receive informational materials on the role and responsibilities of the IRC.

Effective immediately, the IRC will assume responsibility for coordinating the college's response to work-related threats and acts of violence. Division chairs and supervisors will continue to have primary responsibility for ensuring a safe workplace, monitoring and resolution of employee conflicts or disputes, taking appropriate corrective action when potentially violent situations develop, and for working with the college's IRC when threats or acts of violence do occur.

Appendix A

Dangerous Weapons

For purposes of this Plan and Policy, the following items are considered to be "dangerous weapons":

  • any weapon which, per applicable law, is illegal to possess
  • any firearm, loaded or unloaded, assembled or disassembled, including pellet, "BB," and stun guns (electronic incapacitation devices)
  • replicate firearms as defined in Minn. Stat. 609.713
  • knives (and other similar instruments) with a blade length of more than three inches other than those present in the workplace for the specific purpose of food preparation and service
  • any "switchblade" knife
  • "brass knuckles," "metal knuckles," and similar weapons
  • bows, cross-bows, and arrows
  • explosives and explosive devices, including fireworks and incendiary devices
  • "throwing stars," "numchucks," clubs, saps, and any other item commonly used as, or primarily intended for use as, a weapon
  • any object that has been modified to serve as, or has been employed as, a dangerous weapon
  • any other item so designated by the president of the college
  • exception: The Law Enforcement program at Alexandria Technical & Community College may possess necessary weapons for the sole purpose of training pursuant to compliance with its curriculum and MN POST Board program certification requirements.
Approved by: ATCC Leadership Council
Effective Date: 3/16/06
Last Date Revised: 3/16/06