Violence in the Workplace

Introduction Managing the Aftermath of an Incident
Policy Employee Responsibilities
  Examples of Prohibited Behavior Supervisor Responsibilities
  Warning Signs Management Responsibilities
  De-Escalating Threatening Behavior
Quick Reference Sheet
  Behavioral Intervention Team Online Training
  Being Prepared

Warning Signs

There is no exact method to predict when a person will become violent. One or more of these warning signs may be displayed before a person becomes violent, but they do not necessarily indicate that an individual will become violent. A display of these signs should trigger concern as they are usually exhibited by people experiencing problems.

  • Verbal, nonverbal, or written threats - or intimidation, explicit or subtle
  • Fascination with weaponry and/or acts of violence – carrying a concealed weapon
  • Expression of a plan to hurt self/others
  • Feelings of persecution, expressed distrust, especially with management
  • Fear reaction to employee among coworkers/clients
  • Expression of extreme desperation over family, financial or personal problems
  • Frequent interpersonal conflicts
  • Unable to take criticism of job performance
  • Displays of unwarranted anger
  • Moral righteousness – believing the organization is not following its rules
  • Violence toward inanimate objects
  • Sabotaging projects, computer programs or equipment
  • Holding a grudge against a specific person; verbalizing a hope that something will happen to him/her

Those who witness these warning signs are strongly encouraged to inform their supervisors. Managers and supervisors are encouraged to consult with the Behavior Intervention Team to attempt to prevent a difficult situation from escalating into violence.

Another type of workplace violence may occur when an individual becomes romantically obsessed with someone who does not reciprocate the romantic feelings. The obsession is irrational and the subject does not respond to the victim’s attempts to set limits or to end the attachment. Obsessed individuals have sometimes been known to be a threat to the safety of the individual with whom they are obsessed. If you believe that you are being stalked or that someone has an obsessive attachment to you, you should notify the UC Santa Cruz Police.