Workplace violence

“Violence” refers to any intentional or reckless act that physically harms people or property. “Threat of violence” refers to any verbal or physical conduct that conveys the intent to cause physical harm or to place someone in fear of physical harm. These are situations you should not attempt to handle on your own. Any report of an act of violence or attempted violence by an employee (staff or faculty) must be referred to the Office of Professionalism and Ethics which oversees USC’s investigative offices. If the act of violence is also a crime of violence, the Office will alert DPS, which will in turn inform LAPD.

For conduct that is not violent but that raises a reasonable concern for the safety or well-being of students, faculty, staff, patients or visitors, contact the appropriate office:

USC has a threat assessment protocol and intervention team in place. The team includes counselors, mental health professionals, campus law enforcement, student affairs and human resources administrators, and mental health disability specialists. The team is charged with assessing the risk, nature and severity of possible violence to an individual or group.

If you contact the Office of Professionalism and Ethics to report a possible threat of violence, you will be asked for information to help begin the threat assessment process:

  • Brief history of the concerning conduct
  • Past disciplinary history of the employee
  • Basic demographics (how long in position, how long with university, age)
  • What specifically the employee is doing or saying that raises concerns about possible violence
  • Do you know if the employee owns weapons?
  • Do you know if s/he has family or close friends who might be able to provide additional information?
  • Have there been any recent changes in the employee’s demeanor or behavior and, if so, what are those changes?

Conduct that is unprofessional, but not violent (for example, screaming at a colleague, pounding a wall in anger, bullying) may also be reported to the Office of Professionalism and Ethics. Also see the Bullying and incivility section; you may also contact the Center for Work and Family Life for help.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence generally doesn’t happen at work, but it affects the workplace. Also called intimate partner violence, domestic violence concerns employers because it endangers employee health and safety and undercuts company productivity. Uncertainty about preventive roles, a desire to respect employee privacy, and the need for guidance are common reasons why employers (including managers) hesitate to address domestic violence in the workplace.

However, domestic violence is a safety and health issue with medical, emotional, personal, economic, and professional consequences. Approximately 2 million women are assaulted each year, 75 percent by intimate partners. Men can be victims of intimate partner abuse, as well. Many of these victims are employed and spend a majority of their time at work. So domestic violence carries over from the home into the workplace in many ways, and as such, there are ways the workplace can help.

Studies have found that domestic violence victims experience impaired work performance and require more time off than employees who are not abused. Victims of domestic violence experience a broad range of emotional consequences, including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, all of which can adversely affect employee productivity.  In addition, 75 percent of domestic violence victims face harassment from intimate partners while at work.