Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 442: Establishing a policy of zero tolerance for workplace violations

Date: 10/30/2002
Issuer: Acting Governor Jane Swift
Mass Register: No. 961

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, incidents of workplace violence are of major concern for our state and nation: and

WHEREAS, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, there were 674 workplace homicides in 2000, making homicide the third leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States; and

WHEREAS, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, between 1993 and 1999 in the United States, an average of 1.7 million violent crimes were committed against people at work per year; and

WHEREAS, the fear created by workplace violence, whether real or imagined, translates into distraction, loss of morale, loss of productivity, increased absence and increased employee turnover; and

WHEREAS, according to insurance industry statistics, in addition to the trauma inflicted upon victims and their families, such incidents cost employers billions of dollars annually in damage awards and business costs and expenses; and

WHEREAS, all employers both public and private have a general duty to provide a work environment that is safe from all forms of violence for all employees while in the workplace; and

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not tolerate harassment of state employees within state offices, facilities, work sites, or vehicles, or the display of violent, aggressive, or threatening behavior that results in physical injury or emotional trauma to any employee; and

WHEREAS, the executive department of the Commonwealth is the largest employer in the state and has a responsibility to set an example for other employers through a policy of zero tolerance for workplace violence; and

WHEREAS, I intend that the executive department of the Commonwealth be a violence free workplace for all of its employees by establishing preventative measures, providing support and assistance to victims and holding perpetrators of workplace violence incidents accountable for their actions.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jane M. Swift, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Supreme Executive Magistrate, do hereby order as follows:


For purposes of this executive order, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

"Workplace", any Commonwealth owned or leased property, location where the Commonwealth business is conducted, or site where an employee is considered "on- duty." Commonwealth vehicles or private vehicles being utilized for Commonwealth business are included in this definition. Additionally, workplace violence can occur at any location if the violence has resulted from an act or decision made during the course of conducting Commonwealth business.

"Workplace violence", includes, but is not limited to the following: intimidation or threats communicated by any means; physical assault and/or battery; property damage; or other disruptive or aggressive behavior that causes a reasonable person to be in fear of their own safety or that of a colleague or that causes the disruption of workplace productivity. Violent behavior can include actions or communication in person, by letter or note, telephone, fax, or electronic mail. Incidents of workplace violence may be acted out individually or take place between employees, employees and clients/customers, employees and acquaintances/partners and employees and the general public.

"Employee", any person employed full time or part-time by a the Commonwealth;

"Employer", the Office of the Governor and any state agency as defined in section 1 of Chapter 6A of the General Laws;


2.1 It is the policy of the Commonwealth to have zero tolerance for workplace violence in any form.

2.2 All employers are directed to establish a policy of zero tolerance for workplace violence within their agencies. Such policies shall include the following elements: (i) a definition, description, and examples of workplace violence; (ii) a statement that any use of work time or workplace facilities to commit or threaten to commit acts of workplace violence is cause for discipline up to and including dismissal; (iii) a clear description of procedures for reporting acts of workplace violence; and (iv) information indicating where victims and perpetrators can go for help. Employers are directed to designate an agency workplace violence coordinator and response team and provide those names to the Human Resource Division of the Commonwealth. Employers are directed to exercise their best efforts to include principles of zero tolerance of workplace violence in future collective bargaining agreements.

2.3 The Commonwealth recognizes that exposure to threats from, or the violent acts of persons in the Commonwealth's care or custody, or the public at large, is an unavoidable component of certain occupations. This policy is not intended to replace or supersede agency or department policies relative to the lawful use of force. Agencies are encouraged to develop policies that provide the best possible protection for employees as well as the individuals with whom they must interact through the implementation of appropriate safety programs.

2.4 Employers shall create an environment that encourages discussion of workplace violence issues, and where emergency and reporting procedures are made known to employees.

2.5 Employers are directed to implement a workplace violence awareness and prevention training program developed by the Human Resource Division in coordination with the Executive Office of Public Safety. This training shall include an emphasis on workplace security and safety, workplace violence identification and awareness, and appropriate reporting procedures. Employers are directed to provide this training to all employees, including supervisory, human resource, labor relations, legal, and security personnel.

2.6 Employers are directed to respect the privacy of victims and to preserve confidentiality, to the extent possible, in dealing with situations involving workplace violence.


3.1 Employers are required to promptly respond to reports of workplace violence and, upon notice of a serious incident, take immediate action to ensure the safety of employees. Employers shall report incidents of workplace violence to appropriate public safety personnel when incidents involve potential criminal conduct.

3.2 Employers, after ensuring the safety and well being of all those involved in an incident of workplace violence shall takes further steps to provide victims with appropriate support and services.

3.3 After investigation, where a determination has been made that an employee has committed an act of workplace violence or other violation of agency rules, regulations or policies, the employee may be disciplined by the employer when appropriate and pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining contract if applicable. Discipline may include the successful completion of counseling, anger management education or other equivalent programs. Employers may consider acts of workplace violence, along with an employee's success in completing a counseling program, in promotion and other work related determinations.

3.4 Retaliation by alleged offenders or Employers against an employee for reporting an incident of workplace violence is prohibited.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 30th day of October in the year of our Lord two thousand and two.

Jane M. Swift

Acting Governor

William Francis Galvin

Secretary of the Commonwealth

Contact   for No. 442: Establishing a policy of zero tolerance for workplace violations

Help Us Improve Mass.gov  with your feedback

Please do not include personal or contact information.