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West Campus, Health Sciences, and School of Medicine

Disruptive Behavior Procedure

Disruptive, Threatening, or Violent Behavior

Students, faculty, and staff have the right to be free from acts or threats of disruptive behavior and/or physical violence, including intimidation, harassment and/or coercion, which involve or affect the University Community. The University does not tolerate any student, faculty member, administrator, or employee, acting individually or in concert with others, who clearly obstructs or disrupts any teaching, research, administrative, disciplinary, public service activity or any other workplace activity held on campus property. The University prohibits retaliation against those who report or cooperate in the investigation of disruptive behavior, 

University Policy Manual: Disruptive Behavior Policy


What is Disruptive, Threatening, or Violent Behavior?

Disruptive Behavior

Disruptive behavior is inappropriate behavior that interferes with the functioning and flow of the workplace. It hinders or prevents faculty and staff members from carrying out their professional responsibilities. It is important that faculty, managers, and supervisors address disruptive behavior promptly. If left unaddressed, disruptive behavior typically continues to escalate, resulting in negative consequences for the individual as well as others. Examples include yelling, using profanity, waving arms or fists, verbally abusing others, and refusing reasonable requests for identification.

Threatening Behavior

Threatening behavior includes physical actions short of actual contact/injury (e.g., moving closer aggressively), general oral or written threats to people or property ("You better watch your back" or "I'll get you") as well as implicit threats ("You'll be sorry" or "This isn't over").

Violent Behavior

Violent Behavior includes any physical assault, with or without weapons; behavior that a reasonable person would interpret as being potentially violent (e.g., throwing things, pounding on a desk or door, or destroying property), or specific threats to inflict physical harm (e.g., a threat to shoot a named individual).

For further information regarding threatening or violent behavior in the workplace, please refer to the University Policy Manual P519 Workplace Violence

After Identifying Disruptive Behavior, How Can I Prevent or Help the Employee?

Employee Awareness 

Stony Brook University shall take all responsible actions to educate employees regarding the ways to identify and address disruptive behavior. Training and University-wide publications on disruptive behavior will reinforce the University's expectations that disruptive, threatening, and violent behavior will not be tolerated.

What are the Warning Signs?

Below is a list of signs that may be indicators of disruptive behavior. If you observe a pattern or change in behavior and attitude that causes you concern, please notify your supervisor.


  • Repetitive verbal abuse, including sarcasm or poor relationship with customers, co-workers, supervisors, or others
  • Very controlling
  • Blaming others for problems in life or work; being suspicious, holding grudges
  • Persistent complaining
  • Challenging or resisting authority
  • Destruction of University property
  • Becoming unusually upset over recent event(s) (work or personal crisis)
  • Withdrawing from normal activities, family, friends, and co-workers
  • Making a major change in lifestyle, demeanor, or appearance


Specific examples of disruptive behavior:

  • Numerous conflicts, verbal abuse, or poor relationships with customers, co-workers, supervisors, or others
  • Inappropriate reaction to criticism of conduct or job performance
  • Persistent complaining about being treated unfairly
  • Increased, nontypical, or inappropriate tardiness and/or absenteeism
  • Behavior related to obsession with another person at the University
  • Inability to control feelings, outbursts of anger, swearing, slamming doors, etc.
  • Interrupting meetings or trainings with inappropriate comments; hijacking the agenda
  • Is isolated or a loner
  • Expresses entitlement to special rights and that rules don't apply to him/her
  • Says that he/she feels wronged, humiliated, degraded; wants revenge

How to Respond to Disruptive Behavior

Step 1

If it is determined that the disruptive behavior most likely occurred but represents a single relatively minor instance, the relevant department head will attempt to correct the conduct informally. The staff member should be made aware of the reported conduct and be given an opportunity to respond. The department head should emphasize (a) the inappropriateness of the conduct and (b) the possible consequences, including formal corrective action, if the disruptive behavior is repeated.

If the circumstances warrant the issuance of a formal written counseling memorandum, guidelines to do so are found on the Labor Relations' Website. The response by the staff member and any agreed upon actions should be included and a copy of the written counseling memorandum placed in the employee's official personnel file or credential file.

Step 2

The following strategies may be helpful when addressing disruptive behavior. However, if you are concerned that the behavior is violent, or if you or employees experience an immediate threat, dial 911 from a University phone or (631) 632-3333 from a cell or non-campus phone.

  • Choose a private place for discussion
  • Speak slowly and confidently
  • Encourage the person to talk; listen closely and patiently
  • Arrange yourself so your access to exits are not blocked
  • Acknowledge the person's feelings
  • Point out alternatives; break big problems into smaller problems
  • Have a means of notifying co-workers or the police if disruptive behavior becomes threatening (e.g., panic button, code word)

To prevent the escalation of incidents, employees should immediately inform their HR Office or their supervisor of any disruptive behavior.



As a supervisor, you should take immediate steps to address problem behavior and ensure the safety of your employees. Do not ignore or downplay direct or indirect threats from any person, as they could escalate into serious incidents later on. Work with your manager and Human Resources to develop and implement an integrated action plan to address the problem behavior. For advice call your Human Resource office. Contact information is provided in the "Inquiries/Requests" section.