[Adopted 8-10-2009 by Ord. No. 7-2009; amended in its entirety 12-10-2012 by Ord. No. 10-2012]
The City of Newburgh is committed to the safety and security of our employees. Workplace violence presents a serious occupational safety hazard to our agency, staff and clients. Threats, threatening behavior or acts of violence against employees, visitors, guests or other individuals by anyone on the City of Newburgh property or work sites will be thoroughly investigated, and appropriate action will be taken, including summoning criminal justice authorities when warranted. All employees are responsible for helping to create an environment of mutual respect for each other as well as clients, following all policies, procedures and program requirements, and for assisting in maintaining a safe and secure work environment.
This policy is designed to meet the requirements of New York State Labor Law § 27-b and highlights some of the elements that are found within our workplace violence prevention program. The process involved in complying with this law included a workplace evaluation in conjunction with employee unions that was designed to identify the workplace violence hazards our employees could be exposed to. Other tools that were utilized during this process include establishing a committee made up of management and authorized employee representatives who will have an ongoing role of participation in the evaluation process, recommending methods to reduce or eliminate the hazards identified during the process and investigating workplace violence incidents or allegations. All employees will participate in the annual workplace violence prevention training program.
The goal of this policy is to promote the safety and well-being of all people in our workplace. All incidents of violence or threatening behavior will be responded to immediately upon notification. The City of Newburgh has identified response personnel that include a member of management and an employee representative. If appropriate, the City of Newburgh will provide counseling services or referrals for employees.
All City of Newburgh personnel are responsible for notifying the contact person designated below of any violent incidents, or threatening behavior, including threats they have witnessed, received or have been told that another person has witnessed or received:
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The City of Newburgh of the State of New York, unless otherwise specified.
- An officer, official, employee, agent, contractor or volunteer working for the City of Newburgh.
- Any location away from an employee's domicile, permanent or temporary, where an employee performs any work-related duty in the course of his or her employment by the City of Newburgh.
- Any person within the City's organization who has the authority to direct and control the work performance of an employee, or who has the authority to take corrective action regarding the violation of a law, rule, regulation or policy as to which an employee submits written notice; and includes department heads, acting department heads, deputy department heads and their designees.
- RETALIATORY ACTION
- The Discharge, suspension, demotion, penalization, or discrimination against any employee or other adverse employment action taken against an employee under the terms and conditions of employment.
- VIOLENCE and/or WORKPLACE VIOLENCE
- Any physical assault, acts of aggressive behavior including but not limited to verbal threats, displays of force, stalking or other threatening behavior that reasonably rises to the level of perception of potential violence occurring in the workplace, including with or without the use of any means, weapon or instrumentality.
THREATENING or NONEMERGENCY — A person, through intimidating words or gestures, has induced fear and apprehension of physical or other harm in another person but there is no immediate danger of such harm being inflicted.
EMERGENCY — A situation where an injury has occurred or there is an immediate threat of physical harm.
The following activities are prohibited by City employees, and engaging in such activities is considered misconduct subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination, consistent with City policies, rules, regulations and collective bargaining agreements:
Verbal or physical conduct that demonstrates explicit or implicit ridicule, mockery, derision or belittlement of any person.
Any offensive or derogatory remarks based on race, color, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation or preference or national origin, either directly or indirectly, to another person. Such harassment is a prohibited form of discrimination under state and federal employment law.
Any verbal or physical conduct that has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with the employee's ability to do his or her job.
Any verbal or physical conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
Intentional physical contact for the purpose of causing harm, such as, but not limited to, slamming, stabbing, punching, striking, shoving or other physical attack.
Menacing or threatening behavior, such as, but not limited to, 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 or property.
Possession of firearms, imitation firearms, knives or other dangerous weapons, including but not limited to chemical/biological weapons, instruments or materials, except as permitted by law, rule or regulation.
The following are risk factors, locations and applicability in the City of Newburgh:
Working in public settings: applies to all City locations and personnel.
Working late night or early morning hours: applies to personnel in City Hall, Department of Water, Department of Public Works, Recreation Department, Fire Department and Police Department.
Exchanging money with the public or transporting cash, checks or other portable items of value: applies to personnel in City Hall, Code Compliance Bureau, Recreation Department, Department of Public Works, Water Department and Police Department.
Working alone or in small groups: applies to personnel in City Hall, Recreation Department, Department of Public Works, Department of Water, Code Compliance Bureau, Fire Department and Police Department.
Uncontrolled access to the workplace: applies to personnel in City Hall, Recreation Department, Department of Public Works, Department of Water, Code Compliance Bureau and Fire Department.
Methods of risk evaluation, hazard prevention and control.
The department head of every City department, along with an authorized employee representative from each union at each work location, shall evaluate its workplace or workplaces to determine the presence of factors or situations in such workplace or workplaces that might place employees at risk of workplace violence.
The City of Newburgh shall make high-risk areas more visible, install additional lighting where needed, post signs where necessary, secure cash on hand with proper devices, provide annual training to employees and maintain an appropriate response system.
The City of Newburgh shall periodically review employee security surveys, including surveys completed by authorized employee representatives, self-assessments, City Police Department and risk management consultant recommendations and other lessons learned from other entities to effectuate changes which will make the City's work areas and personnel as safe as possible.
Reporting workplace violence.
All incidents of workplace violence, threats of workplace violence or observations of workplace violence shall be reported promptly in written form.
Employees assigned to City Hall, the Department of Water, the Department of Public Works, the Recreation Department and the Fire Department, including the Code Compliance Bureau, shall report threatening or nonemergency incidents to their department heads. The employees may report threatening or nonemergency incidents involving their department head directly to the City Manager.
Police Department employees shall report threatening or nonemergency incidents to the shift supervisor, unless the shift supervisor is involved in the incident, in which case the report shall be made directly to the Police Chief.
Elected officials and department heads shall report threatening or nonemergency incidents directly to the City Manager.
All employees, including department heads and elected officials, shall report emergency incidents by calling 911, the City Police Department or other law enforcement agency immediately.
Employees who make false and/or malicious complaints of workplace violence will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination, consistent with City policies, rules, regulations, collective bargaining agreements and/or referral to law enforcement agencies as appropriate.
Any employee or representative(s) of employees who believe that a violation of a workplace violence protection program exists or that an imminent danger of workplace violence exists shall bring such matter to the attention of a department head in the form of a written notice and shall afford the department head a prompt and reasonable opportunity to address such risk or violation or to correct such activity, policy or practice.
If, following a referral of such matter to the department head and after a reasonable opportunity to address or correct such risk, activity, policy or practice, the condition, circumstance or matter has not been resolved and the employee or representative(s) of employees still believe that a violation of this workplace violence prevention program remains, or that an imminent danger exists, such employee or representative(s) of employees may request an investigation or inspection by giving notice to the City Manager of such violation or danger. Such notice and request shall be in writing, set forth with reasonable particularity the grounds for the notice and be signed by such employee or representative(s) of employees. Such investigation and/or inspection shall be made promptly and proportionately in time and manner to the degree and/or extent of the risk, condition, circumstance, activity, policy or practice reported.
The City Manager or the City Manager's designee shall conduct an investigation and/or conduct an inspection for the purpose of evaluating the facts and circumstances and assessing the risks reported in such notice. The City Manager or City Manager's designee shall prepare a written report of the findings of the investigation and/or inspection.
A file of workplace violence complaints and investigative reports shall be maintained in a secure location in the City Manager's office.
No department head or supervisor shall take retaliatory action against any employee because the employee submits a complaint of workplace violence or assists, testifies or participates in the investigation of such complaint.
This policy does not preclude any employee from filing a complaint with an outside agency or a grievance under the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Responsibilities of department heads.
Each department head is responsible for the implementation of this policy within his/her department.
Department heads must report any complaints of workplace violence of which he/she becomes aware or reasonably believes to exist to the City Manager.
Department heads must call 911 or the City Police Department immediately in the event of imminent or actual violence involving weapons and potential physical injuries.
Responsibilities of employees.
Employees must report workplace violence, as defined in this article, to their department head. Employees who are advised that a workplace violence incident has occurred or has been observed must report this to their department head. Recurring or persistent workplace violence that an employee reasonably believes is not being addressed satisfactorily or violence that is or has been engaged in by the employee's department head should be brought to the attention of the City Manager.
Employees who have obtained orders of protection are expected to notify their department head and provide a list of locations that are designated as protected areas. Employees who are victims of domestic violence and believe the violence may extend to the workplace are encouraged to notify their department heads. Confidentiality will be maintained to the fullest extent possible.
Upon hiring, employees will have copies of this policy made available to them; and annually thereafter, employees will participate in training.
Each employee is responsible for assisting in the prevention of workplace violence by refraining from participating in, or encouraging, actions that could be perceived as workplace violence; reporting acts of workplace violence to their department heads; and encouraging any employee who confides that he or she is being subjected to workplace violence to report these acts to a supervisor.
Failure to take action to stop known workplace violence shall be grounds for discipline in accordance with applicable laws, rules, regulations and collective bargaining agreements.
The City shall make the written workplace violence prevention policy available to its employees, their designated representatives and to the head of every department.
The City shall provide its employees with training on the risks of workplace violence in their workplace or workplaces annually.
Nothing in this article shall be deemed to alter, amend or negate any general order, procedure, operation, rule, practice or other directive applicable to the carrying out of the duties of any police officer, firefighter or other law enforcement officer or emergency response officer.