Workplace Violence

Columbia University is committed to supporting a workplace environment free from harassment, intimidation, threats, and violence for all members of the University community including but not limited to faculty, staff, student employees, contracted employees, visitors, and guests of the University. While no large organization is immune from acts of violence, clear policies and procedures help reduce the likelihood of such events and guide appropriate responses to situations that may arise.

The purpose of this policy is to address the issue of potential workplace violence in our community, prevent workplace violence from occurring to the fullest extent possible, and set forth procedures to be followed if such violence occurs.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act of 1970

New York State Public Employer Workplace Violence Prevention Law (regulations and guidelines are recommended for private employers)

This policy applies to all employees of the University including faculty, all staff, temporary employees, and student employees (with respect to conduct that pertains to their employment status). In addition, the policy applies to individuals whom the University contracts to do work on its behalf, including consultants, vendors, contractors, and sub-contractors. University employees and those working on behalf of the University are expected to adhere to this policy at all times, on or off campus, when they are officially representing or acting on behalf of the University, conducting University business and/or attending University-sponsored or financed activities. This policy covers activity at all University-owned and operated properties, facilities, and off-campus locations where University business is conducted.

All Columbia University employees should review and understand this policy.


Columbia University prohibits workplace violence. Violence, threats of violence, intimidation, harassment, coercion, or other threatening behavior towards people or property will not be tolerated. Violence in the workplace is unacceptable and all complaints are taken seriously and will be thoroughly investigated. Individuals who violate this policy may be removed from University property and are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination, consistent with University policies, rules, and collective bargaining agreements, and/or referred to law enforcement authorities.

 Please note: Complaints of discrimination and/or harassment may also be covered by the University’s Policy on Non-discrimination and Harassment.

Workplace violence is any behavior that is violent, threatens violence, coerces, harasses or intimidates others, interferes with an individual’s right of movement or expression, or disrupts the workplace or academic environment. Examples of workplace violence may include, but are not limited to:

  • Intentional physical contact for causing harm (such as spitting, slapping, punching, striking, shoving, or other physical attack).
  • Using any object as a weapon.
  • Menacing, terrorizing, or threatening behavior (such as throwing objects, pounding on a desk or door, damaging property, stalking, or otherwise acting aggressively; or making oral or written statements specifically intended to frighten, coerce, or threaten) where a reasonable person would interpret such behavior as constituting evidence of intent to cause harm to individuals.
  • Disruptive behavior intended to disturb, interfere with, or prevent normal work activities.
  • Electronically communicated threats, intimidation, or harassment.
  • Possessing firearms, imitation firearms, knives or other dangerous weapons, instruments or materials at the workplace is strictly prohibited. No one within the University community shall have in their possession a firearm (including imitations that may be perceived to be real) or other dangerous weapons, instruments or materials that can be used to inflict bodily harm on an individual or damage to University property unless they have prior approval by the Vice President of Public Safety. Very limited exceptions are made for CU personnel who use such items as necessary as per their job description and are expected to secure items appropriately when not in use.

All members of the Columbia community have an obligation to help maintain a safe work environment. Threats of violent behavior must be reported. The University shall maintain the confidentiality of workplace violence investigations to the extent possible.  If there is an immediate threat of violence, call the Department of Public Safety or call 911 immediately:


  • On campus – 4-5555
  • Off campus – 212-854-5555

Medical Center:

  • On campus - 5-7979
  • Off campus – 212-305-7979


  • On Campus -3-3333
  • Off Campus – 212-853-3333

If the threat of violence is not immediate but potentially could lead to a serious incident, please notify one of the following for next steps:

  • Your supervisor
  • Your local Human Resources representative or Departmental Administrator
  • The Dean’s Office in your school
  • CU Human Resources (212) 851-7008 or CUMC Human Resources (212) 305-3819
  • Department of Public Safety

The Department of Public Safety maintains emergency call boxes and Safe Havens throughout the area.

The University provides employees a variety of resources to address workplace violence. These resources offer services that encompass conducting investigations/fact-finding processes, providing security services, counseling, making referrals and mediating conflicts. The following descriptions outline the University resources provided to address conflicts.

  • Department of Public Safety – Public Safety will process and investigate reports of criminal incidents.
  • CUHR – Human Resources will assess and identify appropriate University and external resources to assist them with workplace and/or personal concerns.
  • Columbia University Emergency Medical Service – CU-EMS is a student-operated, New York State-certified, Basic Life Support volunteer ambulance corps.
  • Safe Havens – The SAFE HAVEN program is a consortium of businesses in the community which pledge to assist Columbia affiliates or members of the Community in the event they need help by contacting the Department of Public Safety or the NYPD. These businesses display a decal of a Columbia RED LION logo in their storefronts. To view a complete list of SAFE HAVENS in the Morningside, Manhattanville and Medical Center communities please visit the Department of Public Safety Website:
  • Columbia University Escorts – The Department of Public Safety provides escorts within the Morningside campus.  Please call 212-854- SAFE (4-7233) for further information and operation schedule.
  • Employee Assistance Program – The EAP provides resources for personal and psychological counseling services for individuals or groups.

All employees and students are protected from retaliation for filing a report or assisting in an investigation under this policy for personal and psychological counseling services for individuals or groups.